Make Innovation Work

Ambassador Smith at "Make Innovation Work" competition (State Department Photo)
Ambassador Smith at “Make Innovation Work” competition (State Department Photo)

Launch of 2nd Make Innovation Work
Tuesday, July 23 at 1000H
Athens Exchange, Ermis Room

President Anastasopoulos,

Chairman Lazaridis,

businessmen and women, friends, thank you very much for the invitation to be here today.

I am delighted to participate in this launch of the 2nd Make Innovation Work Competition, co-organized by the American Hellenic Chamber of Commerce and the Athens Stock Exchange.

I saw excellent results from the 1st competition, and have no doubt that this 2nd competition will do as much to highlight and reward the efforts of leading Greek entrepreneurs.

As all of you know, I am nearing the end of my three-year tenure in Greece.

As I consider the tremendous difficulties and challenges that Greece has faced over these past several years, I am more convinced than ever that innovation and entrepreneurship are critically important for the country’s economic future.

Greeks are extraordinarily talented and entrepreneurial people, and unlocking this talent will help provide new economic dynamism that can propel the country toward a brighter future.  economic and fiscal stability, improve competitiveness, and turn the economy around, the Greek government has committed to undertake difficult reforms in cooperation with Greece’s international creditors.

This is a painful, long-term process, but it is essential if Greece is to return to economic growth and prosperity.

We commend these efforts, but also have emphasized the vital need to engage the creativity and energy of the private sector as the key driver for Greece’s future success.

As part of this, Greece needs to improve its “innovation ecosystem,” to support and enable the success of new startups and businesses that will lead Greece into the future.

In that regard, as Greece has struggled through its crisis, I’ve been tremendously impressed by many inspiring young business leaders and entrepreneurs who are working to accelerate this economic transformation by creating and realizing new economic opportunities.

In the face of great resistance from those who want to preserve “business as usual,” these leaders have worked to educate other Greeks about the potential of entrepreneurship, to start new businesses, to open markets to new competition, to strengthen the rule of law, and to build new domestic and international business partnerships.

The number of these people is growing, as more Greeks realize that the future lies in unlocking the dynamism of Greece’s private sector, but these innovators need the tools and resources to succeed in the current tough environment.

This is why the Make Innovation Work competition is so important.

The prestige and backing of the American Hellenic Chamber and the Athens Stock Exchange lend this competition high visibility and value, ensuring that this program will not only provide concrete awards to some of the most promising Greek innovators but also inspire others to pursue their own entrepreneurial goals.

We see great potential among Greek entrepreneurs, in the sectors you are targeting in this competition and others as well.

In closing, I wish to thank the American-Hellenic Chamber of Commerce, the Athens Stock Exchange, and all of the competition’s sponsors, for your support of innovation and entrepreneurship in Greece.

Thank you very much.