The multiple dimensions of brain drain in the spotlight of EKT's Event in Thessaloniki

Collaboration, networking and innovative entrepreneurship are the ‘keys’ to the country’s growth prospects. 4,500 Greeks from 20 towns all over Greece and 30 countries from all over the world followed the event via live streaming.

The event held by the national initiative ‘Knowledge and Partnership Bridges’ on Monday 10th of September in Thessaloniki was very successful. Its main topics were the benefit of networking for Greeks around the world, innovative entrepreneurship and the different dimensions of the brain drain.

The event, which was jointly organised by the National Documentation Centre (EKT), the General Secretariat for Strategic and Private Investment of the Ministry of Economics and Development and the Municipality of Thessaloniki, attracted more than 150 mainly young participants, corporate executives, students and citizens, as well as representatives of chambers and institutions. At the same time, the event was followed by 4,500 Greeks in 20 towns all over Greece and 30 countries from all over the world via live streaming.

The Mayor of Thessaloniki, Yiannis Boutaris, opened the event stating that the mobility of human capital is not a barrier but an asset for the economic growth of Greece. He was followed by Pr. Kostas Douzinas, President of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on National Defence & Foreign Affairs, who also emphasised the importance of mobility and flexibility in education and carreer orientation as well as the modern digital forms of working.

Lois Lambrianidis, General Secretariat for Strategic and Private Investment, emphasised on the diverse aspects of the ‘brain drain’ in terms of transfer of experience, know-how and the utilization of the skillset acquired by the risk takers, while pointing out that participation in the initiative ‘Knowledge and Partnership Bridges’ will give 'a sense of belonging' in today’s digitally shaped society.

Professor Konstantinos Kozirakis, treasurer of AHEPA (American Hellenic Educational Progressiνe Association), stated that the Association will help in every way the promotion of the initiative, considering it an effort of high importance to connect Greeks around the world.

Talks presented by CEO's of companies based in Thessaloniki and Athenss as well as young professionals, operated by Greeks either working globaly from Greece, or returning from abroad and setting up their business in Greece, or that have setteled and excel abroad.

Common ground for all speakers was that there are indeed dimensions of the brain drain can be exploited for the benefit of the Greek economy and society. Of paramount importance was the conclusion that entrepreneurial opportunities in Greece do exist, as do high-level jobs (particularly in the ICT sector). The discussion was co-ordinated by two young representatives of the initiative’s operations team at EKT, Dimitris Maragkos and Athanasia Megremi.

Panayiotis Kouvrakis, vice-President and CEO of BETA CAE Systems, one of the most internationalised companies in Greece, emphasised on the personal effort of entrepreneurs to achieve their goal, on the procedure of failure and learning from this so they can be successful in their next entrepreneurial move.

Maria Rammou, HR Manager of Veltio company, referred to the idea of continuing the education of young professionals in intelligent ways, aiming to produce high value-added services and the good practice of internaly mentoring the young professionals coming into the company by senior members.

Support offered through mentoring young professionals was a common ground for all speakers, particularly by Manolis Babatsikos, 3D VR/AR visualisation artist, who, during the crisis, left his career abroad to return to Greece to entrepreneur with the help of the ‘Knowledge and Partnership Bridges’ initiative. He stressed that he is willing to share his experience with other young people so that they can avoid the difficulties he himself had to deal with, at the beginning of his career.

Patroclus Papapetrou, founder of SoftConf, focused on his efforts to embed the culture of creating working groups with common goals and a common vision and also on his role as an mentor in secondary education, as program in which he participates due to his partnership with the "Knowledge and Parthership Bridges" initaitve.

John Kampas, founder and CEO of EMPIST, decided to move a large part of his business to Greece and hasn’t regretted it since. The Greek-American entrepreneur stressed that given the right circumstances and having been offered the opportunities, people who have left Greece will come back, since his company is a true exmple of that practice. In that point all speakers agreed with him. According to Vangelis Liakos, co-founder of Beetroot Design Group, which amongst other companies, has helped to make Thessaloniki an European capital of graphic design, feels Beetroot is like a family and co-operation within and outside the company is an important growth factor, as improving conditions for teams improves their work ethic.

On the other side of the Atlantic, Marily Nika, computer program manager at Google, drew attention to the importance and value of the transfer of know-how through mentoring and the need she feels to bring back her acquired life and work experince to Greece. Daphne Vitsikounaki, Commercial Attache at the Consulate General of Greece in San Fransisco, emphasised the fact that there a great number of Greeks and Greek-Americans in Silicon Valley that are eager to connect with Greeek economy and reconnect with Greek society, and spoke about the prospect of further co-operation between the iIitiative and the Consulate.

You can watch the video of the event on youTube.

The ‘Knowledge and Partnership Bridges’ initiative

The ‘Knowledge and Partnership Bridges’ initiative is being implemented by EKT in co-operation with the General Secretariat for Strategic and Private Investment, Ministry of Economy and Development. Τhe initiative creates networks, develops ‘bridges’ between Greeks who live and work abroad, focuses on the reconnection of expat Greeks with Greece, showcases opportunities and strengthens partnerships with scientists, professionals, institutions and businesses.

Greeks all over the world can transfer know-how, good practices and experience to Greece. The initiative engages all stakeholders to participate and benefit form a national effort.

The platform has three pillars: 1) specialized networking for partnerships, synergies and co-operation through the creation of a digital network of Greek scientists, professionals and entrepreneurs; 2) updates on funding opportunities in Greece and 3) the mapping of highly skilled Greeks who live and work abroad., with information from ΕΚΤ