The members of the Enterprise Europe Network Hellas consortium celebrated 30 years of the Single Market and 15 years of the Enterprise Europe Network Network at an event that highlighted the results and services the Network offers small and medium-sized enterprises with potential for innovation and extroversion.
The resplendent event hall in the building on Amerikis Street, which houses the ‘Konstantinos Michalos’ Entrepreneurship Centre of the Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry, welcomed representatives of the business world, the EU and institutions participating in the Enterprise Europe Network on Wednesday November 29 2023.
The speakers highlighted the possibilities and opportunities offered by the Single Market and the milestones in the fifteen-year course of the Network internationally and in Greece. They also highlighted the important role played by the Enterprise Europe Network in transferring know-how, facilitating innovation and promoting sustainability, resilience, green and digital transitions.
Empowering the extroverted, innovative Greece
Sofia Kounenaki-Efraimoglou, the President of ACCI, highlighted the remarkable achievements of the Network, stating, "With over 4 million SMEs supported to date, the Enterprise Europe Network is a true success story for Europe. It is a valuable ally that can make a tangible difference. It is no coincidence that the network's customer satisfaction rate is close to 90% worldwide. In our country, specifically, nine out of ten customers/businesses have reported finding assistance to improve their performance and increase their turnover."
Evi Sachini, the Director of the National Documentation Centre (EKT), emphasized that innovation is a key objective of the Enterprise Europe Network. She noted that the country now has a significant strategy for digital transformation and highlighted the encouraging trend of innovation among businesses in Greece. "Last year, we witnessed the highest rate of innovation growth in Europe, which indicates that we have achieved positive results that we can build upon," she said.
Konstantinos Vavekis, the Director of PRAXI Network, discussed the Network's initiatives aimed at enhancing business competition. He stated, "Our vision is for the Greek market to have viable and resilient businesses, with a focus on extroversion, innovation, and the necessary tools and strategies to enhance the competitiveness of small and medium-sized enterprises."
Lina Ioannou, Director of International Relations and Institutional Networking of Enterprise Greece, underscored the organization's role in promoting the international presence of Greek SMEs. She specifically mentioned the upcoming signing of a memorandum of cooperation between Enterprise Europe Network Hellas and Enterprise Greece, with the primary objective of promoting Greek innovative products and services abroad.
Anna Athanasopoulou, Head of Unit 'Proximity, Social Economy, Creative Industries' at the European Commission, emphasized that "competitiveness in Europe must be achieved through the green digital transition." In her address, she analyzed the challenges faced by small and medium-sized enterprises in the modern environment and highlighted the continued opportunities and tools for growth offered by the single market.
Evi Georgitsis, Communication Officer of the European Commission's Representation in Greece, discussed the significant opportunities that the Single Market provides to European citizens, emphasizing the free movement of goods, services, capital, and people within the Union's internal market.
Achilleas Barlas, Coordinator of the consortium (PRAXI Network), and Angelos Angelidis (EKT) presented the contributions of their respective organizations in establishing and strengthening the Network within the country.
Achilleas Barlas discussed the new mission of Enterprise Europe Network Hellas, which aims to support innovation, as well as the green and digital transition of Greek SMEs, through the collaboration with entrepreneurship support bodies. He also highlighted the recent evaluation results that demonstrate the Network's significant contribution to job creation, job retention, and the international expansion of Greek businesses.
Angelos Angelidis provided insights into the evolution of the Network in Greece and referred to notable success stories. He emphasized the commitment to continue providing high-quality services and supporting the country's businesses and capabilities in the international ecosystem in the best possible way.
Immediacy, quality, efficiency
During the second half of the event, three representatives from small, new, and innovative businesses engaged in a discussion with each other and the audience, sharing their journey towards success and the type of services they received from the Network.
Georgia Kalantzi spoke about the valuable contribution of PRAXI Network and Enterprise Europe Network in establishing AlongRoute, a company that utilizes artificial intelligence to optimize weather routing at sea, with the aim of revolutionizing the shipping industry. She emphasized the significance of the services provided by the Network, stating, "The services we currently receive are incredibly important, and if we were to seek them in the market, they would be very expensive."
Spyros Frangos, the founder of Pepper Vally, shared his initial skepticism about the existence and services of the Network. He said, "When we first learned about the Network and its services, we didn't believe it." Pepper Vally, headquartered in Acharnes, specializes in producing innovative textile products and receives strong support from ACSMI and PRAXI Network. Frangos continued, "Since 2018, we have been experimenting with smart fabrics, resulting in the development of biometric sensors embedded in the fabric that receive signals from the human body."
Kozell Williams, Communications Manager at TRYGONS, expressed her enthusiasm for the Enterprise Europe Network and its executives in Greece. She stated, "For us, the Network is perfect. We had no doubts or suggestions about how things could be done differently. The immediacy, quality, and courtesy are all at 100%. Currently, we are implementing the sixth consecutive program that introduces artificial intelligence applications into our production process. Through the mediation of EKT, we have found an excellent partner from Europe."
Marianthi Frangopoulou from HERADO, a company specializing in radiation measurement systems, shared her experience with the Network in Greece. She mentioned the challenges of finding international partners in demanding fields and expressed gratitude for the support provided by the Network executives from EKT, PRAXI Network, and ACSMI. Frangopoulou stated, "It may seem unusual for our country, but we have managed to reach space and have many more applications. The Network made it feel like a game at times."
Panagiotis Frantzis, the Communications Manager of the Greek consortium (EKT), who co-facilitated the discussion with Alexandra Palivakou (PRAXI Network), emphasized the importance of collaboration within the Enterprise Europe Network. He expressed, "The individuals who receive support from the Network inspire us. We gather ideas and insights from their stories, which enable us to enhance how we showcase the Network's services."
The Enterprise Europe Network Hellas consortium, led by the National Documentation Centre (EKT) and PRAXI Network, has been providing support to small and medium-sized enterprises with innovation potential since 2008. Comprising 16 organizations, including industrial associations, research and technological institutions, as well as chambers of commerce and industry, Enterprise Europe Network Hellas is a collaborative force driving business growth.