Startup Greece is an extensive portal launched in 2011 by the Greek Ministry for Development, Competitiveness and Shipping. Currently the website is run by the Ministry of Economy, Development and Tourism, and is a vital part of the Greek Action Plan for Open Government Partnership. It has been described as a “no-stop shop” for young local entrepreneurs.
The portal is both a meeting point and a networked, collaborative space in which to start or expand a new business with shared data and experiences. Innovative and competitive initiatives require updated information on funding, incentives, financing tools, procedures, business trends, legal framework and other issues. Startup Greece has been created to cover those needs.
The information contained in the portal aims to bring young people from Greece closer to innovation. Users can find new ideas there, and figure out how to achieve success with their own ventures. The platform is written in both Greek and English, as one of its primary intentions is to promote entrepreneurship, business opportunities and information exchange outside Greece as well as within the country.
Startup Greece is trying to create a new generation of entrepreneurs and help them to believe in their own ideas. The project brings together people and ideas in an environment of mutual inspiration and enthusiasm for novelty and collaboration, across all sectors of Greek society.
The Startup Greece project started at almost the same time as the Investment Incentives Law 3908/2011. This law aims to meet the needs of Greek investors, and to create the best environment for open investment and business creation in a global economy. It sets out the conditions and regulations needed to promote entrepreneurship with the best combination of speed, clarity, transparency and business success, and with the least bureaucracy. The revised legal text is Law 4146/2013 “Creation of a Development Friendly Environment for Strategic and Private Investments”.
Creating youth employment within a green development economy model is another of the main targets of these policies. With that in mind, the website and the proposed projects also comply with the EU’s eco-innovation requirements.
The Startup Greece website is one of the Greek eGovernment infrastructure portals. The Greek framework for the reuse of public-sector information started in 2003 and comprises a number of laws implementing the various EU directives. The legislation includes: Law 2699/1999, on access to public documents; Law 3422/2005, ratifying the Aarhus convention; Law 3422/2006, which implements Directive 2003/98/EC on the reuse of public-sector information; Law 3861/2010, on transparency; Law 3882/2010, implementing Directive 2007/2/EC on geospatial information (INSPIRE Act); Law 3979/2011, on egovernment; Law 4305/2014 on reuse of public-sector information, which establishes the ‘open by default’ principle for public data; and Ministerial Decision 116/B/21 January 2015, on transparency obligations for non-governmental organisations (NGOs) with public funding.
Since launching the website, the Startup Greece promoters have become very aware of the value of the intangible assets created in many of the resulting projects. To help participants manage issues relating to intellectual property, the website has a section introducing the Hellenic Industrial Property Organisation (OBI) and its tools for protecting inventions and industrial designs. Further information on laws and government policies that are important for entrepreneurs is available in a dedicated section of the portal.
Given the sensitive nature of the information collected in the website, personal data is managed according to Greek Law 2472/1997, including the modifications of Law 3625/2007, and also Law 3471/2006 on the protection of personal data. As the website uses bulletin boards, feedback forms and social networking media, all projects are also protected under Greek Law 2121/1993.
The Investment Incentives Law, which is one of the main tools deployed by the Greek government to support projects like Startup Greece, describes seven main categories for investment. One of these is Youth Entrepreneurship, which targets investors aged between 20 and 40 years. For this target group, the law provides aid for virtually all project costs, including operational costs, for the first five years. According to the system’s promoters, the total amount of aid may be up to €1,000,000. Startup Greece does not limit its advice and community discussion just to entrepreneurs. The promoters insist that anyone with an interest in business can benefit by joining the platform, even if they are not eligible for grants.
The Matchmaking section of the website allows users to find funding, or to offer it; to begin a career in a start-up, or to offer work in one; and to trade rights for intellectual property. Startup Greece has a “give and take” strategy: a bidirectional approach that means that any new venture can benefit from the experience of a recent one. Start-ups that become established are invited to stay on as part of the group.
The Investment Incentives Law addresses all sectors of the economy. It focuses on sustainable, environmentally friendly projects that stimulate innovation, as well as on regionally cohesive initiatives. According to the Greek Action Plan, citizens, organizations, associations, research institutes, social and economic entities are all welcome to become involved and share their experience, “how to” stories and advice.
The portal was launched in April 2011. Since its inception, Startup Greece has been working towards a new generation of forward-thinking entrepreneurs in Greece. The structure and content of the website give users the assistance they need to create their businesses:
-Information required to start a business: a knowledge base that covers funding, support, law, research, recommended practices, and motivational material.
-Social media for updates and connections with other entrepreneurs, initiatives, and organisations both public and private. These tools also create opportunities for investment and partnerships.
-Timely feedback from citizens.
-The tools needed to manage online democracy, dialogue, citizen engagement and accountability targets, all of these in order to achieve citizen participation and public sector transparency.
By September 2011 the platform incorporated all the required material, including digital information and networking functions.
The Startup Greece administration team classifies every new member into one of three groups:
Once a user is registered and hence a member of the community, he or she is invited to submit an idea or project. A user does not have to be an entrepreneur to browse the knowledge base, but the information collected there is particularly valuable for any start-up. A vital part of the website is the networking function: any organisation or entrepreneur can quickly find connections with other venture promoters or established start-ups, business experts, and even potential investors or partners.
Members can connect their corporate profiles to the products they wish to introduce to the rest of the community, for example by creating dedicated web pages. Public-sector players such as universities and government representatives are very much part of the Startup Greece community. The information and tools provided by the portal help entrepreneurs to make sure that their new businesses meet all the requirements of Greek law.
Active entrepreneurs will want to visit the website daily. Beyond creating new ventures, there is a constant stream of events such as summits, workshops and seminars to attend to. The news section is therefore an integral part of Startup Greece.
The material published on the website is made available under the Creative Commons Greece licences (CC BY v.3.0) (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/gr/), and stored in Resource Description Framework (RDF) format. A visual map tool that helps users to find companies is based on Google Maps technology.
By May 2011, the Startup Greece platform already had more than 2,300 registered members. Any Greek entrepreneur can find information on funding programmes for both the private and public sectors; legal procedures and regulations; national and international events and competitions covering entrepreneurship and business creation; business success stories to learn from; and business trends.
The community Startup Greece has generated is populated by many more types of people than just young entrepreneurs. Big and small corporations, startups of different kinds, banks and other financial agents, and public sector representatives all take part in the daily activity of the website. So it is more than a research centre or a mere information repository; Startup Greece is the place where everyone involved in business creation can be really connected.
The website suggests that new users should sign up via LinkedIn. That way, the website database can match each user’s profile with the most suitable content and connections right from the start. The more information the user provides, the better the match will be.
As important as the website itself is, the social media tools of Startup Greece also play a big role. The portal has extensive and regularly updated sections for competitions, events and success stories, as well as the Greek Innovation Forum. The pages dedicated to social media profiles, such as Facebook and Twitter, act as more than complementary tools; they are actually a strong part of the “updated community” function of the website. Information on events, workshops and summits is constantly streamed via Facebook and Twitter. Some of the events are organised by the Startup Greece initiative itself: for instance, a meeting for all users of the platform will take place on July 1st in Patras, Achaia. The event aims to inspire and communicate optimism, and to replicate the website’s collaborative space in an offline event. A live stream will also be available.
The progress of the Greek Action Plan is clear from the growth of projects and initiatives under the Startup Greece umbrella, as well as the number of individuals and corporations sharing the collaborative space that the website provides. In 2012 the Action Plan set some ambitious milestones, such as improving public services, increasing integrity in public life, and managing public resources more effectively. The importance of achieving higher levels of transparency, accountability and citizen engagement is well balanced in this initiative with setting the right conditions to encourage entrepreneurship in young people.
The “give and take” philosophy of the website means that any user who finds useful information through Startup Greece can also make significant contributions for other people. Every new venture can get a lot of feedback from answered questions, user comments and the exchange of ideas. However, the dedicated social media pages – with more than 10,000 Twitter followers and more than 10,000 Facebook likes – are rapidly becoming the centre of the communication between entrepreneurs, public representatives, private companies, and others individuals and corporations. Together, they do a great deal to create a new business reality from the dreams of young Greek entrepreneurs.