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Presentation and Discussion of Research Study “Innovation in Greece”

On the occasion of the European Year of Innovation the Kokkalis Foundation organized, under the aegis of SEV-Hellenic Federation of Enterprises, an event presenting the research study “Innovation in Greece-Comparative Evaluation with International Indicators, Policies, Strategy Recommendations,” a study conducted by the Athens University of Economics and Business (AUEB). In his opening address the president of the Kokkalis Foundation Mr. Socrates Kokkalis referred to the work and contribution of the Foundation toward furthering education and research in Greece and in SE Europe, as well as to the contribution made by Athens Information Technology, a prototype non-profit education and research centre founded by the INTRACOM Group in 2002. SEV’s President Mr. Dimitris Daskalopoulos defined innovation as a combination between creation and change that requires boldness, risk and freedom from fear of the new. He committed on behalf of SEV to contribute to further evaluating the findings of the study of the AUEB and to act upon these findings. In the presentation of the research study, the head of AUEB’s research team Professor Spyros Lioukas underlined that low expenditures on R&D in Greece and problems in entrepreneurship, the absence of networks between education institutions and industry, and investment incentives to innovation start-ups are among the factors that explain the low ranking of the country in the general indicators of innovation. On the other hand, Greece fares better in the areas of absorption and diffusion of innovation, through in-company innovation or integration of products and processes new to the company but not new to the market. The research leads to strategic recommendations for a focus on the so-called model of “open innovation,” that emphasizes the absorption, integration, and configuration of innovations, because it maximizes the benefits of the trends observed in the Greek context and it does not require solving other complex issues such as those concerning the relationship between the university and the market, the bureaucratic requirements for start-ups, and the steep increase in expenditure on innovation. In the discussion, the Special Secretary for Competitiveness of the Hellenic Ministry of Development Mr. Eleftherios Stavropoulos described the government efforts to promote youth entrepreneurship and innovation, the new microelectronic clusters and the new ministerial programs for competitiveness and green entrepreneurship, which the minister added must be complemented by tax benefit initiatives for investments in technology. The CEO of Greek lottery games company INTRALOT, Mr. Konstantinos Antonopoulos, underscored the importance of innovation in every stage of company development, in particular of overcoming the economic crisis, and stressed that INTRALOT supports a research expenditure equivalent to 12% of annual revenues. Equally important, Mr. Antonopoulos stated, is to go beyond product innovation and focus on new processes and applications, and on offering a favourable environment maximizing the talent of company professionals and workers. Using IOBE’s research dta, the Research Director of the Foundation for Economic and Industrial Research (IOBE) Mr. Ioannis Stournaras underlined the importance of the triangle of knowledge: education-research-innovation. He referred to the low quality of education proposing changes in primary and secondary education seeking to develop critical thinking and to offer conditions that enable the true autonomy of Greek universities. Mr. Stournaras argued that it is imperative that Greece focuses research efforts on areas where it has comparative advantage and that it creates institutional ties between education and technology. NBG’s Chief Economist and Chief of Strategy Pavlos Mylonas presented data showing the importance of a fair and flexible stability framework for healthy entrepreneurship and called for incentives that take advantage of the abundant talent of Greek researchers abroad to transfer research knowledge to Greece.




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