Hailed as one of the main tools to extract Europe from the economic crisis, tech start-ups have recently experienced a boom in crisis-struck Greece. Especially young Greeks, who have to suffer the most during the crisis, are coming up with innovative and state-of-the-art ideas which are highly recognized by the international tech community.
But, as all Europeans had to learn the hard way during the crisis, the Hellenic Republic unfortunately is not the business-friendliest place on earth. Does the current government do enough to support young tech start-ups to flourish? How can the liberal community in Greece and elsewhere help to lay the foundation for future success? And are there lessons to be learnt from other European countries how to use the unique format of tech start-ups to extract countries from the economic crisis? Those were only some of the questions raised and answered during the “Ralf Dahrendorf Roundtable” entitled “Tech Start-Ups – a way to recovery?” which took place in Athens on June 16th, 2014.
Dimitrios Katsoudas, Director of Studies at the Forum for Greece, highlighted the will and talent of many young Greeks who are seeking for chances to build their own innovative product. Susanne Hartig, Executive Director at ELF, underlined that especially start-ups give an impetus for growth to a crisis-ridden economy like the Greek one.
Antigone Lyberaki, Vice-President of the liberal party Drassi, analyzed the Greek start-up success story, pointing out that there is still a lot of political work to be done in order to facilitate investments in Greek technology. John Papageorgiou, founder and CEO of Truckbird, shared his experience from forming a concept all the way to making it a real product, despite the difficulties of bureaucracy in Greece. Jan Versteeg, Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to Greece, referred to the development model followed by his country, commenting on how start-up companies have drastically changed the economic model in the Netherlands.
In the end, all participants agreed that a true turn-around towards a sustainable private economy can only be achieved with more and broader liberal reforms to foster private entrepreneurship. A handful of successful tech start-ups can surely serve as prime examples for future young entrepreneurs; they however cannot solve the Greek problem of an overregulated and too restrictive business environment.
Athanasios Grammenos & Markus Kaiser