MITEF Greece Startup Competition: Remarks by Deputy Chief of Mission Kate Byrnes

Deputy Chief of Mission at MITEF Awards (State Department Photo)

Opening Remarks for the DCM’s Participation in
MITEF Greece Startup Competition
Finals and Awards Ceremony
The National Center for
Scientific Research Demokritos
18:00-19:15 p.m., June 28, 2018

Good evening everybody.

I want to say it’s really a thrill for me to be here tonight for a number of reasons. First of all, it’s a thrill to meet, for the first time, Professor Negroponte. He is a legend in the United States. There’s another Negroponte who is a legend in the State Department, but anybody who’s followed technology and innovation knows Professor Negroponte’s name, and it’s an honor to have you here tonight. You are a great model for all of us Americans and Greeks alike, so thank you. It’s also a thrill to be a part of the program tonight because I had the pleasure earlier this spring of being witness to some of the initial pitches of the groups presenting tonight, so to be able to be here at the final awards ceremony and to see these teams now before a very distinguished panel of judges present their final ideas – it’s nice to be a part of a project from that start to this stage. It’s also a thrill to see the U.S. Embassy Athens name on the logo board, along with The Hellenic Initiative, the Stavros Niarchos Foundation, The People’s Trust, and so many great corporate sponsors, and to know we are a part of this collaborative effort.

The U.S. Embassy engaged with MIT Enterprise Forum not just because it’s a feel good operation, although we’re extremely grateful to Vassilis Papakonstantinou and Katerina Saridaki for allowing us to be part of this program. We do it, obviously, because it’s great to hear these inspiring stories of young people take a vision, get the expertise they need, and then bring their ideas to life. But it’s much more than that. And what the MIT Enterprise Forum is doing is actually helping create a path for the future, not just for these young entrepreneurs, but for Greece and for Greece’s economy moving forward. It’s one of the reasons why Ambassador Pyatt and the entire American Embassy have so supported the idea of entrepreneurship, and with a special focus on technology and innovation.

We partnered with our American Chamber of Commerce this year to plan in Thessaloniki at the International Fair an American pavilion that will precisely spotlight the role that technology and innovation play. And we do this because we really truly believe that for the U.S. and Greece to have a strong relationship, both partners need to be strong, and the best way that we can be strong and be strong together is to embrace technology and innovation as a passport to the future.

So thank you again to the MIT Enterprise Forum for allowing the U.S. Embassy to be your collaborative partner in this exercise. We hope to continue this in the years ahead and with all of you, and to all of the finalists tonight, good luck, we can’t wait to hear you, and wish you all the best.