Despite its much-publicized economic and political crisis, Greece and its citizens are paving their own path to recovery. This is especially the case with new tech ventures: small businesses in Greece may be suffering, but startups are in full bloom.
After all, the Greeks built the Acropolis, created democracy and philosophy, and gave birth to modern medicine—now, they’re finding their own cures to regain economic stability and sustainable growth. With this in mind, here are the top 11 reasons why Athens might be the next Silicon Valley.
11. An international city full of well-respected academic institutions.
Many of Greece’s universities are top-ranked and compete with the best educational and research institutions in the world. Six Greek universities are amongst the top 800 institutions worldwide, with the National Technical University of Athens ranked first amongst the top Greek universities.
10. A convenient, well-developed transportation network.
Transportation in Greece has undergone significant infrastructure modernizations in the past few decades. In Athens, public transportation connects the city centre and suburbs; this network consists of a developed system of motorways, buses, railways, airlines, and maritime routes that service more than 4 million inhabitants of the city spread over an area of 2928 km².
9. Easy accessibility to and from the rest of the world.
Entrepreneurs looking for an ideal location at the crossroads of Europe, Asia and Africa need look no further than Athens, Greece’s capital. The geographic position of the city has for centuries nurtured a local society focused on commerce and entrepreneurship.
8. A multicultural country open to the world.
Greece has gone a long ways towards transitioning from a monocultural society to a multicultural one—but in many ways, this ideal had long been embedded in the country’s identity. In fact, the Greeks are considered the ancient pioneers of multiculturalism and the first European race to promote multiculturalism.
7. A variety of EU-supported and community-driven startup resources.
Athens plays host to a myriad of tech startup events every year, connecting entrepreneurs to both local and international investors and partners. For example, the NSRF’s ESPA program provides financing to startups in order to boost job creation and employment opportunities.
6. A workforce of young, tech–talented professionals.
Professionals—as well as researchers and students at Greek universities—are highly educated with international study experience and a global outlook. Greeks can be found at tech events and startups across the continent, helping to build innovative businesses in other parts of Europe. Additionally, Athens in particular boasts a vibrant startup community composed of young innovators.
5. Greece is the world’s most popular travel destination.
Greece is a perennial favorite amongst travelers and usual tops favorite travel destination lists for good reason: along with archaeological and historical treasures, Greeks are also famous for their hospitality, warmth, humor, and generosity. New entrepreneurs from abroad will find that locals go a long way towards creating a comfortable and welcoming climate for doing business.
4. A growing e-commerce and online retail market.
Greeks are accustomed to shopping online and purchasing products/services via the internet, and are amongst Europe’s most savvy technology users. According to a MasterCard survey, Greeks rank first amongst consumers in 23 European countries when it comes to shopping for clothes online.
3. One of the lowest costs of living in Europe.
Despite its rich culture, history, and enviable climate and cuisine, Greece remains surprisingly affordable, boasting one of the lowest costs of living in Europe. Since the economic crisis, accommodation prices have fallen dramatically, allowing cash-strapped entrepreneurs to enjoy high quality living on a limited budget.
2. A government dedicated to supporting tech startup initiatives.
Startup Greece—created and run by the Ministry of Economy, Development and Tourism—is a portal for starting or expanding new businesses ventures, with a myriad of resources for funding, networking, legal, and more. The program is a vital part of the Greek Action Plan for Open Government Partnership.
1. A fast growing tech startup ecosystem.
Greece’s network of tech startups is drawing increasing investment opportunities to the region, helping to create jobs and reduce the country’s high unemployment rate. Hubs and coworking spaces like Coho in Thessaloniki and The Cube and Impact Hub Athens in Athens play prominent roles in Greece’s rapidly expanding tech startup ecosystem.
In short, Athenian tech startups have brought to market some of the world’s most innovative digital products and services; with a thriving tech sector and workforce full of highly educated engineers and developers, the country may well be on a fast track to recovery. Be sure to keep its tech startup ecosystem on your radar in 2018 and beyond.