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Poster Magazine

Categorized | BUSINESS - INNOVATION

GREECE 2.0: A RENAISSANCE OF RESILIENCE AND INNOVATION Posted on 08 June 2024.

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GREECE, RENOWNED FOR ITS RICH HISTORY AND STUNNING LANDSCAPES, IS UNDERGOING A PROFOUND TRANSFORMATION. DUBBED “GREECE 2.0, THIS RENAISSANCE IS DRIVEN BY A WAVE OF RETURNING TALENT, INNOVATIVE STARTUPS, AND SIGNIFICANT FOREIGN INVESTMENTS.

 

At the heart of this transformation is Dr Marinos Giannopoulos, the CEO of Enterprise Greece, whose vision and leadership have been instrumental in repositioning Greece on the global economic stage. The severe economic crisis that plagued Greece over a decade ago led to a massive exodus of talent. Nearly 600,000 Greeks, predominantly young and highly educated, left the country in search of better employment opportunities abroad. This brain drain posed significant challenges to Greece’s recovery, slowing down economic reboot and impacting various industries, including infrastructure construction.

 

UNEARTH by K-Studio. The Acropolis. Dr Marinos Giannopoulos. Mr Kostas Skrekas.

 

Marinos Giannopoulos recognized the critical need to reverse this brain drain. Under his leadership, Enterprise Greece has been pivotal in implementing strategies to lure back Greek professionals. By 2021, about 57% of those who left had returned, bringing with them valuable international experience. “This ‘brain regain’ phenomenon is crucial; Greeks are returning and they’re bringing valuable international experience and knowledge with them,” Giannopoulos states. One compelling incentive is a 50% income tax reduction for five years, which, coupled with opportunities to work for global giants like Google and Amazon, makes Greece an attractive destination for returning talent.

 

Giannopoulos’s approach goes beyond financial incentives. He has actively fostered a culture of innovation and inclusivity, ensuring that returning professionals find not just jobs but fulfilling careers. This has included partnerships with universities and research institutions to create robust networks for knowledge exchange and collaboration.

 

 

Photo Jason Lloyd-Evans. UNEARTH by K-Studio. Mr Manolis Sigalas. Mr Dimitris Manoussakis.

 

The Greek government, alongside private sectors, has been actively fostering an ecosystem conducive to innovation and entrepreneurship. Initiatives like BrainReGain and platforms such as Elevate Greece are crucial components of this strategy. Georgios Papadimitriou, Country Managing Partner for EY in Greece, highlights the progress: “There’s been substantial progress in the last two to three years, especially with regards to funding, with new funds being created that mainly deal with new technologies.”

 

These efforts are bearing fruit. Greece now boasts about 800 startups, with many entrepreneurs eyeing the potential to create their own businesses. This entrepreneurial spirit is supported by accelerators, incubators, and tax incentives for angel investors, all aimed at nurturing the next generation of Greek unicorns.

 

Greece’s real estate sector is also experiencing a renaissance, marked by significant foreign investments and iconic projects. Dimitris Manoussakis, Head of Office at Savills Greece, notes: “Following a very successful 2022, the sector had an exceptional performance in 2023 and I believe 2024 will be another record year. The frontrunners in this are expected to be hospitality and logistics, followed by offices, while residential will be the next hit for Greek real estate.”

 

MANNA by K-Studio. The Ellinikon. Mr Odisseas Athanasiou. Ms Vassiliki Lazarakou.

 

Prominent projects like The Ellinikon, the largest and most iconic real estate development in Greece, exemplify this transformation. Odisseas Athanasiou, CEO of Lamda Development, involved in The Ellinikon project, emphasizes its global appeal: “We’re passionate about this project, we’re creating a paradigm way of living and invite everybody to experience it.” This project, along with other developments like the One&Only resort in Athens and the ongoing expansion of Costa Navarino in the Peloponnese, underscores the vibrancy and potential of Greece’s real estate market.

 

In addition to luxury developments, there is a concerted effort to revitalize urban areas and make them more livable. This includes improving public spaces, investing in sustainable transport options, and ensuring that new developments are environmentally friendly. These projects aim to enhance the quality of life for residents while attracting international visitors and investors.

 

Greece is not just investing in traditional sectors but is also making significant strides in renewable energy and infrastructure. The Great Sea Interconnector, a project aiming to connect the national electricity grids of Cyprus, Israel, and Greece via undersea cables, is a testament to this commitment. Manousos Manousakis, Chairman and CEO of the Independent Power Transmission Operator (IPTO), highlights its importance: “Energy would primarily be exported from Greece toward Cyprus and Israel. It is geopolitically important for the EU, as Israel will then be technically connected to the European system.”

 

UNEARTH by K-Studio. Photo Simon Lekias. Mr Marios Psaltis. Ms Olga Kefalogianni.

 

This focus on infrastructure is further supported by substantial growth in the sector. Manolis Sigalas from Hill International notes, “Projects of global caliber have commenced and there’s a strong pipeline of projects that can be funded and implemented. That’s reflected in the backlog of the big contractors, which has tripled compared to 2019 and will continue to increase.”

 

Furthermore, the commitment to renewable energy aligns with Greece’s goals to reduce its carbon footprint and become a leader in green energy. Investments in wind and solar power, along with energy storage solutions, are positioning Greece as a key player in the transition to a sustainable energy future. These projects are not only environmentally beneficial but also create jobs and stimulate economic growth.

 

The turnaround in Greece’s economic fortunes is also evident in the renewed confidence of foreign investors. Marios Psaltis, Country Managing Director of PwC Greece, observes a significant shift: “Foreign investors have turned from doubters to believers in Greece.” This change is attributed to a combination of factors, including robust economic growth, political stability, and effective reforms that have boosted competitiveness.

 

MANNA by K-Studio. Aegean Airlines Business Lounge. Photo Scorpios.

 

The EU recovery funds play a crucial role in supporting this transformation, providing the necessary finance to back sustainable growth initiatives. These developments, coupled with an investment-friendly government, have positioned Greece as a credible and attractive destination for long-term investments.

 

Giannopoulos’s proactive approach in engaging with foreign investors has been instrumental. His efforts to streamline regulatory processes and provide clear, transparent information have made it easier for investors to navigate the Greek market. “We aim to make Greece a welcoming place for investment, where opportunities are clear and the path to success is straightforward,” he emphasizes.

 

Tourism remains a cornerstone of Greece’s economy, with Athens emerging as a prime destination for both casual travelers and luxury tourists. The city has seen a significant increase in visitors, drawn by its vibrant culture and trendy atmosphere. Iconic establishments like the Hotel Grande Bretagne, celebrating its 150th anniversary, continue to set the standard for luxury hospitality in the Greek capital.

 

Photo Simon Lekias.  The Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Centre.

 

Moreover, there is a strategic push to diversify tourism offerings. Beyond the traditional sun and sea holidays, Greece is promoting thematic tourism such as wellness, gastronomy, and cultural tourism. These initiatives aim to attract a broader range of tourists and ensure that the benefits of tourism are felt across different regions. Giannopoulos points out, “Our goal is to showcase the diverse experiences Greece has to offer, from its rich history and culture to its natural beauty and modern amenities.”

 

At the center of Greece’s resurgence is Marinos Giannopoulos, whose leadership and vision have been instrumental in driving this transformation. His efforts to attract international investments, support innovation, and reverse the brain drain are not just revitalizing the Greek economy but are also redefining Greece’s role on the global stage.

 

The Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Centre. The Acropolis Museum.

 

Giannopoulos’s work exemplifies a broader shift towards a collaborative and growth-oriented mindset. As he puts it, “Greece offers a splendid environment for wealth creation, enjoyment, family life or whatever one desires. It’s a unique blend that is full of opportunities. His vision extends beyond economic metrics to creating a society that values sustainability, inclusivity, and innovation. By building a robust infrastructure, fostering an entrepreneurial spirit, and ensuring a skilled workforce, Giannopoulos is laying the foundation for a resilient and future-proof economy.

 

In conclusion, Greece is undergoing a remarkable renaissance, powered by a combination of strategic investments, innovative policies, and the return of its talented diaspora. With leaders like Marinos Giannopoulos at the helm, the country’s future looks promising, marked by sustainable growth and an increasingly prominent position in the global economy.

 

National Athens Museuem. The Acropolis. Dr Marinos Giannopoulos. Mr Kostas Skrekas.

 

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