Greece @ MWC14: Greek-born mobile champions at MWC 2014

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Written by Costis Papadimitrakopoulos, Chief Executive Officer at GLOBO

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Costis Papadimitrakopoulos, Chief Executive Officer at GLOBO

For the second consecutive year, Greece is present in the greatest digital business event, the Mobile World Congress, with 34 innovative companies and institutions, in an official Greek pavilion in Hall 8.1, organized by our Association, HAMAC, the association of Hellenic Mobile Application Companies. Of course, in the past decade many Greek-born companies were present in this international event with individual booths and many still have a bold presence in other halls targeting their specific markets. What makes the difference today is that we come as a team, accepting the challenge to present an innovative ecosystem that gives life to dynamic companies with innovative and competitive products and services.

It is not widely known that in Greece, an innovative hi-tech ecosystem is flourishing despite the financial crisis. Its core develops around mobile technologies, services and apps, where some globally acknowledged companies have emerged.

A unique mobile ecosystem

As the mobile sector grew rapidly in the 90s, a bunch of innovative companies grabbed the opportunity to expand into the global markets following the wave that transformed our everyday lives, disrupted most industries and emerged as the greatest technological revolution in human history.

Those companies, founded the Hellenic Association of Mobile Application Companies (HAMAC), is a non-profit organization that now represents a vibrant sector of more than 80 companies developing mobile applications and providing innovative marketing, communication, content and application services. Our members provide employment to more than 4.000 people, including one thousand professionals of the highest academic education. Additionally, the members of the association collect more than 400M€ turnover and have presence in more than 50 countries. Some of these companies are already expanded and distinguished as worldwide leaders in the mobile services market, provide services to the largest telecom operators globally, are listed on Stock Markets of London LSE/AIM and achieve substantial growth both in national and international level.

Sometimes when we talk about the future of the Greek economy, many think that the undiscovered wealth of modern Greece lies in the gas fields of the southern Crete and the oil reserves of the Aegean. We strongly believe that our real wealth is in the minds of young scientists and engineers, who have already formed a knowledge industry that produces more than the primeval gold of the Greek land, the virgin olive oil”.

Greece is among the countries with the highest levels of knowledge capital, ranks in the 11th position Globally in engineers and has a vast diaspora of scientists, engineers and entrepreneurs in many fields.  In the 21st century, Greece’s Hi Tech exports have surpassed virgin olive oil by a factor of 5:1. The Greek olive oil exports for 2010 sum to 200 million EUR (http://www.startupgreece.gov.gr/content/olive-oil-virgin-exports-2010) this is less than half of our member’s aggregated turnover. The latest value for High-technology exports (current US$) in Greece was $1,170,866,000 as of 2011 which accounts about 10% of the total exports. Over the past 23 years, the value for this indicator has fluctuated between $1,291,332,000 in 2008 and $72,454,420 in 1988. Greece ranks 50 among the 171 countries listed in the United Nations, Comtrade database. (The country has lost almost 10 positions during the crisis but still has momentum). And when we talk about High-technology exports we mean products with high R&D intensity, such as in aerospace, computers, pharmaceuticals, scientific instruments, and electrical machinery. You could find detailed data in the United Nations, Comtrade database.

Tough times need synergies

Developing this ecosystem in tough times needs synergies and survival skills…

Going global is our first priority, and our association’s prime objective, assisting specially the smaller companies address the challenges of the international markets. In this aspect, the development of a spirit of cooperation between its members and the promotion of mutual collaboration is of the utmost importance, and is cultivated through our joint presence in international events as MWC, business delegations to areas of common business interest and experience-exchange workshops.

Of course, growing a company in Greece, 2014, needs more than innovative spirit… Nowadays we face a lack of funding sources, many obstacles and of sometimes, the hesitation of international partners facing the so called country risk.

So we take initiatives to mobilize local and international investors, promoting the real values of our companies and the intellectual capital they possess. We have catalyzed the development of a new generation of investment funds matching local knowledge with the international experience. We lobby systematically to lower the barriers to entrepreneurship and enforce a legal framework friendly to innovation.

We put a lot of energy in developing the Hellenic Mobile Cluster, a competitive, globally,   cluster, which will contribute to smart, sustainable, extroverted development of its members and all actors of the broader ecosystem.

Also, in cooperation with the City of Athens and four other industry associations (microelectronics, bio-medical technology, aero-space and startups) we have established an innovation hub in Athens. Our hub, named “InnovAthens Σynergies” is based in the Athens Technopolis and its activities will be launched next month.

Hopefully 2014 will be the year of a revolution. As now, the number of mobile devices is bigger than the world population, creating a huge global market we face a great challenge: To bring up new services and applications that will add value to everyday life and enrich the experience of communication between the people in this planet. This will create new value to our companies and our stake holders.

And this challenge is accepted!

Written by Costis Papadimitrakopoulos, Chief Executive Officer at GLOBO

Costis Papadimitrakopoulos holds a degree in Electrical Engineering from National Technical University of Athens. From 1989 to 1995 he was Operations & Exports Manager for his family’s fruit processing business, Sparti Hellas S.A, where he gained experience for the markets in Greece, the Balkans and Eastern Europe. Upon leaving the family business, he founded GLOBO in 1997, an international leader and technology innovator delivering Enterprise Mobility solutions, recognized as a Ruban d’Honneur in European Business Awards 2013 and shortlisted in Fierce Innovation Awards, MobITS awards 2013, CTIA tech awards 2013, Top 2011 Western Europe Telecom Innovator, Top UK and Global R&D Performing Companies and others.

Since 2008 he has served as Chairman of Hellenic Capital plc, an ISDX quoted investment company. He is also Chairman of the Hellenic Association of Mobile Applications Companies (HAMAC), founded in 2010.

Costis was awarded as “Manager of the Year” by Info-Com 2013 and by “Kouros 2011” in the category of Innovation and Entrepreneurship, handed by the Vice President of Greek Government in November 2011.

He has participated in more than 15 national and international ICT projects and is an active member of several committees.

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