Ah the joy of six. Don’t worry, there’s no typo. This article is strictly business. It’s just that we’re more than just a little excited this week. The reason? Greece’s participation at the Mobile World Congress (MWC) Americas 2017 in San Francisco.

Greece scales up at MWC Americas 2017!

Greece’s presence at MWC Americas 2017 will be its sixth consecutive at a global MWC event. The country’s proud tradition of taking part in the mobile industry’s premier digital business event began in 2013. This time nine of the country’s most innovative tech startups will be in ‘The City by the Bay’ from September 12 to 14, which is hosting it’s first ever MWC Americas event.

That’s not all, however. This time there’s also a special Greek Pavillion. That’s right, Greece is scaling up! As well as our very own companies with Yodeck and Talentcards, six more Greek companies in Accesspal, Crossmobile, Meazon, MLS, Motivian, and Telenavis will exhibit at booth 2400D 4YFN. HAMAC, the Greek Mobile Association and the Region of Attica and Athens are leading the MWC Americas 2017 delegation.

Greece’s unique mobile ecosystem

So why visit the Greek pavillion? Greece’s innovative tech ecosystem continues to is flourish despite the financial crisis. Its core develops around mobile technologies, services and apps, where some globally acknowledged companies continue to emerge.

How did we get here. Well, to the surprise of most visitors at past events, Greece always seemed to have – and still has – an answer for all the hot topics of the congress with a relevant product or service. From mobile health to micro payments and electronic wallets, NFC and the “Internet of Things”, mobile marketing services and cross-platform development tools, Greek born innovation produces appealing and competitive products.

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. They disrupted most industries and emerged as the greatest technological revolution in human history.

HAMAC channeling the effort

Those companies gave birth to the Hellenic Association of Mobile Application Companies (HAMAC). A non-profit organization, it now represents a vibrant sector of more than 80 companies developing mobile applications and providing innovative marketing, communication, content and application services.

HAMAC’s members provide employment to more than 4.000 people, including 1,000 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 the London stock markets (LSE/AIM) and achieve substantial growth both in national and international level. Thus the proof in the pudding that Greece truly is scaling up.

Knowledge capital

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.

Wrong. We strongly believe that our real wealth is in the minds of young scientists and engineers, who are forming 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 11th globally in terms of engineers and has a vast diaspora of scientists, engineers and entrepreneurs in many fields. You’ll meet a handful of these talented individuals at MWC Americas 2017.

Tech is Greece’s new olive oil

In the 21st century, Greece’s hi-tech exports have surpassed virgin olive oil by a factor of 5:1. The latest value for high-technology exports in Greece was $1,17 bn as of 2011, which accounts for about 10% of the total exports. What’s more, over the past 23 years, the value for this indicator has grown from $72 mo in 1988, to $1,29 bn in 2008.

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-tech exports we mean products with high R&D intensity. Industries such as aerospace, computers, pharmaceuticals, scientific instruments, and electrical machinery.

But, tough times need synergies

Maintaining this ecosystem in difficult times needs synergies as well as survival skills. Going global is rightly so HAMAC’s first priority. This helps the smaller companies and startups especially in addressing the challenges of international markets.

This is why the development of a spirit of cooperation between its members and the promotion of mutual collaboration is vital. And this is cultivated through joint participation at international events like MWC Americas 2017.

Of course, growing a company in Greece 2017 needs more than just innovative spirit. Nowadays we face a lack of funding sources, many obstacles and sometimes the hesitation of international partners facing the so called “country risk”.

How do we tackle this? By taking initiatives to mobilize both local and international investors. We promote the real values of our companies and the intellectual capital they possess. We continue to catalyze the development of a new generation of investment funds matching local knowledge with international experience. Put simply, we focus on scaling up!

Lowering barriers

“We lobby systematically to lower the barriers to entrepreneurship and enforce a legal framework friendly to innovation.”

A lot of our energy goes into developing the Hellenic mobile cluster, a globally competitive group which will contribute to smart, sustainable, extroverted development of its members. As well as all protagonists of the broader ecosystem.

Hopefully 2017 will be the year of “revolution”. As we speak, the number of mobile devices is actually larger than the world’s population, creating a huge global market. With this comes a great challenge: to come up with new services and applications that will add real world value to everyday life. And enrich the experience of communication between the people on this planet.

This is something which will create amazing and true value to our companies and our stakeholders. And this is a challenge we freely accept with verve and passion. See you in San Francisco!


Dimitris Tsingos Dimitris Tsingos

The Starttech Ventures Founder. Tech entrepreneur. Passionate European federalist. Dimitris has been the President of YES for Europe - European Confederation of Young Entrepreneurs [2011-15], the Founder of the Hellenic Start-up Association [2011], Board Member at EBAN - The European Business Angel Network [2014-17], 40-under-40 European Young Leader [2012-13], Marshall Memorial Fellow [2018] and a Fellow of IHEIE/PSL [2019].