Empowering Digital Transformation in Greece: ICCS launches the EIT Digital Office in Athens!

On 17th January, ICCS and the European Institute of Innovation and Technology – EIT Digital announced the launch of EIT Digital office in Athens, in a remarkable event. It has been a a significant moment for ICCS /NTUA, a day of celebration, innovation and the beginning of a collective journey.

Building EIT’s digital local ecosystem in Greece, we hope that we can strengthen extroversion of our national innovation system and foster these types of collaborations that can create socio-economic benefits throughout the country’s value chain.

The event marked the initiation of a significant initiative for Athens and, more broadly, for our country, as EIT Digital of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) – the largest innovation ecosystem in Europe connecting companies, universities, research centers, and startups to promote the development of innovative ideas and products in the digital sector – expands to have a strong Greek component. The reconstruction of this community in the Greek space is undertaken by ICCS of the NTUA with the vision of contributing to the digital transformation of the country by promoting the exchange of knowledge and collaborative actions offered by guidance and dialogue with a strong European entity.

The event was opened by the Greek Minister of Digital Governance, Dimitris Papastergiou, who emphasized the importance of the operation of the EIT Digital office in Athens. This will provide an opportunity to create new bridges of collaboration between the research-academic community, the business world, and the broader public sector, enabling new innovative ideas to flourish and new digital tools to be developed. ‘In recent years, the digital transformation of the public sector, and strong political will has contributed significantly to the development of an innovation system in our country, and  we continue vigorously with this effort, strengthening Greece’s digital leap into the future”, highlighted Mr. Papastergiou.

The welcome was extended by the Director of Research and Development at ICCS, Dr. Angelos Amditis, along with Federico Menna, CEO of EIT Digital. As Mr Federico Menna presented, EIT Digital, established in 2010, invests in strategic areas to accelerate the market and scale digital research technologies (deep tech). It focuses on key social challenges in Europe: Digital Technology, Digital Cities, Digital Industry, Digital Wellbeing, and Digital Finance, with applications in areas such as transportation, energy, supply chain, and governance.

Greetings were also addressed by the Rector of the National Technical University of Athens (NTUA), Prof. I. Chatzigeorgiou, and the Director of ICCS , Prof. Ioannis Psarras. The NTUA Rector emphasized the enormous potential for high-quality research and expertise at the university, highlighting the urgent need to transform this knowledge into tangible benefits for the local market, economy, and society. He noted that the transition to a culture of innovation and collaboration in the academic space is already a task that NTUA and ICCS undertakes by seeking new ways to connect with the business reality, create spin-offs, and encourage the development of skills – essential elements for a society preparing to digitally innovate.

Focusing on ICCS’s rich scientific output, Prof. Ioannis Psarras, Director of the Institute, highlighted the benefits for the Greek digital innovation community from the exchange of accumulated knowledge in the field of digital technologies.

From the position of  the Director of Research and Development at ICCS, Dr. Angelos Amditis, the visionary of this project, emphasized the need to strengthen the culture of collaboration in the Greek space and its connection to European structures. He noted  that ICCS produces daily international excellence and supports digital innovation through pioneering research results applicable to various aspects of human activity. From the energy and transportation sectors to healthcare, the environment, and the climate crisis, digital innovation can provide the answers to the major challenges of our time. He underscored the importance of digital innovation as a fundamental pillar for the journey towards digital transformation and demonstrated how, in the contemporary reality, digital innovation can only arise through collaboration.

Elena Contioso-Fleming, Interim Regional Director South at EIT Digital, presented on the work and actions of EIT Digital, such as training programs, business acceleration for startups, research and innovation, as well as support for the development of digital products and services in both the public and private sectors. Notably, EIT Digital has supported over 780 startups and scale-ups for international development, initiated more than 250 entrepreneurial efforts, and launched over 540 commercially viable products and services.

Greek businesses and entities that are currently members of the EIT Digital ecosystem were present at the event and led the discussion in the panel titled “Mobilizing a Dynamic Greek Innovation Ecosystem, Open and Connected.” Panel participants included M. Pournari, COO of EDIH Health Hub & Intl Growth Mgr at JOIST Innovation; P. Papageorgiou, Innovation Division Director at Hellenic Development Bank (HDB); X. Mygdalis, Group Chief Digital Officer at Eurobank; F. Zakopoulos, Managing Partner at Found.ation; and G. Michalitsis, New Ventures, Cyber, and Data Intelligence Director at Netcompany-Intrasoft. The panel was moderated by O. Trasanidis, Managing Director – EIT Hub Silicon Valley.

The panel discussion focused on the challenges faced by Greek businesses on their journey towards technological and digital transformation. It addressed the role of financial mechanisms and emphasized the importance of collaboration between the public and private sectors as a key factor that can accelerate the adoption of innovative technologies. The need for innovative financing structures that respond to the constantly changing landscape and the addressing of interoperability issues of systems and data for the efficiency of digital services and the sustainability of digital infrastructure were also highlighted.

Financial institutions such as HDB were mentioned as entities that can promote innovation through creative financial means and assessment tools for entrepreneurial opportunities, thereby reducing risks. Leading digital service providers, like Eurobank, were seen as potential supporters for Greek SMEs in overcoming the challenges of digital integration through strategic initiatives, education, and collaborations. Trust issues hindering Greek startups were identified as requiring collaborative measures to enhance their credibility. Finally, collaborative formations such as iED/Joist park & Found.ation were expected to play a vital role in integrating digital innovation, providing the right environment to leverage the rich research results offered by research institutions and universities in the country.

“Our vision is to mobilise a strong innovation ecosystem in Greece, a supportive and dynamic environment for growth that includes everyone: local government agencies, regulatory bodies, universities, research institutions, educational centers, business and corporations, incubators and accelerators, entrepreneurs and start ups, business associations, infrastructure and service providers, costumers, citizens and end users.It is through collaboration that innovation can thrive” Dr Amditis, Research and Development Director of ICCS notes.

 The event concluded with the ceremonial ribbon-cutting. The EIT Digital office in Athens will operate within the premises of the National Technical University of Athens.

👏 We believe that the outcome will be a vibrant community that will leave its footprint to the country’s digital transformation!

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