Thursday, 25 April 2024

Two-day mission to Thessaloniki for its promotion as a research and innovation centre


Two-day mission to Thessaloniki for its promotion as a research and innovation centre

Synergassia: a pioneering program contributing to Greece's overall equitable and sustainable economic development

Athens, April 25th, 2024 | Enterprise Greece (Greek Investment and Foreign Trade Company SA), in cooperation with the Region of Central Macedonia and the Association of Financial and Commercial Attachés of Foreign Embassies, organized a two-day mission in Thessaloniki on April 23rd and 24th, 2024, within the framework of the Synergassia program.

The Synergassia program is a flagship initiative by Enterprise Greece and has been acknowledged as best practice by the OECD (2022). It is a pioneering program contributing to Greece’s overall equitable sustainable economic development and seeks, in cooperation with local authorities and the business ecosystem, to boost competitiveness, productivity and employment in the Greek regions. Enterprise Greece has been implementing the Synergassia program for the past ten years, aiming at strengthening outward orientation in the Greek Regions, turning them into attractive destinations for international businesses, also taking into account the existence of highly skilled and qualified human resources, and at promoting their comparative advantages in the international business community One of the actions integrated in the program is organising field missions for Financial and Commercial Attachés (FCAs) from foreign diplomatic authorities in Greece, with the ultimate aim of briefing the businesses in their countries.

The mission to Thessaloniki included diplomats from the national delegations of Egypt, Austria, Belgium, France, Estonia, USA, Indonesia, Ireland, Croatia, Cyprus, Montenegro, Moldova, Norway, Poland and Portugal.

During the two-day mission, the 20 participants visited the Technopolis in Thessaloniki, the first High Technology Business Park in Greece; the Alexandrian Innovation Zone, the body that has undertaken the management and development of the Thessaloniki Innovation Zone; the International Centre for Digital Transformation and Digital Skills by Cisco; the Centre for Research and Development Hellas (CERTH), one of the leading Greek public research centres; Accenture, which serves its clients in Greece and abroad through its hub in Thessaloniki; the Deloitte Alexander Competence Centre (DACC), Deloitte's hub for the development of specialized skills and competencies; and Pfizer Hellas, the largest biopharmaceutical company in Greece.

The CEO of Enterprise Greece, Dr. Marinos Giannopoulos, said the following: “With Synergassia, Enterprise Greece seeks to play an active role in the regional development of our country, promoting our Regions’ available investment opportunities as well as their business ecosystems, always in close cooperation with local authorities and all local partners. Synergassia, a strictly Greek word, is a branded program that has been developing actions since 2008, and it is a highly targeted approach for the promotion of our Regions. Our two-day visit to Thessaloniki aimed at promoting the Region of Central Macedonia as a research and innovation centre, capitalising on its advantages.

In his statement, Bane Prelevic, Vice Governor for Outward Orientation at the Region of Central Macedonia, said: “It was with great pleasure that we welcomed foreign diplomats to our Region as part of the Synergassia program, strengthening the bridges that connect the local community and economy with the international investment market, deepening the cooperation between the Knowledge Sector and Entrepreneurship and the development of an innovative environment in order to exit the crisis and create new jobs, based on innovation, competitiveness and outward orientation.

Mr. Tasos Tzikas, President of Technopolis in Thessaloniki, referred to the development strategy of the High Technology Business Park and to the established businesses, as well as to the businesses supported by the Technopolis Incubator and artificial intelligence cluster. He also expressed his belief that Thessaloniki has already evolved into an international centre for New Technologies. In achieving this ambitious goal, it relies on its remarkable human resources, new entrepreneurship and the ecosystem of the new economy that has already been created in the city of Thessaloniki.

For his part, Dr. Panagiotis Ketikidis, President of the Alexandria Innovation Zone (AZK), stressed the importance of cooperation on a global scale: “Within this context, AZK's priority is to strengthen OUTWARD ORIENTATION (and the growth of businesses) based on Synergies with all stakeholders in order to build a strong, sustainable innovation ecosystem (ScaleUp Northern Greece) in our country's best interest. Together, we can achieve more and promote meaningful partnerships across borders.

Nikos Lambrogeorgos, Director of Cisco's Digital Transformation and Digital Skills Centre (DT&S), said “Cisco was honored to welcome Enterprise Greece together with an international delegation of officials as well as commercial and financial attachés from foreign embassies, to the International Digital Transformation and Digital Skills Centre (DT&S) in Thessaloniki, and it had the opportunity to present the activities and initiatives it develops. In alignment with the objectives of the Synergassia program, the visit demonstrated Cisco's leadership in digital transformation, the development of skills and the collaborative development of innovation and local digital ecosystems with trusted partners, startups, technoblasts, academia, and institutional partners, such as local and national governments and chambers of commerce, highlighting Cisco's commitment to foster an inclusive digital economy and equip human resources with skills of the future.

Dr. Dimitrios Tzovaras, Chairman of the Board of Directors at the National Centre for Research and Technological Development, said: "The visit by Enterprise Greece and the delegation of financial and trade diplomats to CERTH, as part of the Synergassia program, provided the representatives of foreign countries with the opportunity to become familiar, in a creative atmosphere, with CERTH’s strategy, its Institutes’ activities, as well as the Research Centre's actions in order to commercially exploit its results and connect it with the real economy. Through such initiatives, CERTH intends to contribute, on its part, to the creation of the appropriate conditions, which will result in partnerships with companies and organizations from foreign countries, with the ultimate goal of creating benefits for society and the economy.”

Alexandros Minas, Head of Accenture's Technology Hub in Thessaloniki, referred to this initiative: “Based on our strong 30-year presence in Greece, we are continuously strengthening our footprint in the country, focusing strategically on Thessaloniki for the last 5 years. Within this context, we were honored to host the Synergassia mission at our Technology Hub in Thessaloniki -which serves as an innovation centre for the greater Southeast Europe region- where we thoroughly discussed the opportunities and our growth path in the city.

Vassilis Kafatos, Partner, Growth Leader, and Competence Centre President of Deloitte, said: “We are grateful for the opportunity to contribute to this important initiative by Enterprise Greece, aiming at attracting investment interest to Thessaloniki and Greece, and at further promoting its potential as a vibrant technology and innovation hub of international scope. At Deloitte, we are implementing our commitment to add value to the local economy and society, by investing in the talent of the region and supporting its development. In 2018, we established the Deloitte Alexander Competence Centre in Thessaloniki, the first international centre in the city for the development of innovation and skills in cutting-edge technologies, which now employs more than 1,200 specialized executives, while at the same time we cultivate partnerships aimed at retraining human resources and strengthening the greater ecosystem of knowledge and innovation.

Nico Gariboldi, Head of Pfizer in Thessaloniki and Head of the Centre for Digital Innovation (CDI), pointed out: “We were delighted to welcome Enterprise Greece, as well as financial and commercial diplomats from other countries, to Pfizer in Thessaloniki and to the Centre for Digital Innovation, where we had the opportunity to present Pfizer's flagship investment in Thessaloniki. Greece, and especially Thessaloniki, offers unique opportunities for foreign investment, since it brings together a dynamic talent pool, internationally renowned universities, and an emerging innovation ecosystem, while its strategic geographical location maximizes the potential for global partnerships. These characteristics have played a key role in the continuous development of Pfizer's investment in Thessaloniki, which in just 4 years since its launch comprises 4 global organizations and employs more than 1,000 highly qualified employees. Thessaloniki has the potential to and can establish itself as an innovation hub for Southeast Europe and the greater region.