In the Western Greece region, we complete almost a decade since the Chamber of Achaia and the University of Patras joined forces by starting the initiative of PATRAS INNOVATION QUEST EXHIBITION-PATRAS IQ, a Technology and Know-how Transfer Exhibition with a common goal: to highlight the great research work carried out in the region; to boost the research results to find the ground in the labor market, to connect research with the business community and not be limited only to academic institutions, a common challenge we face in the modern Greek and Mediterranean reality. 

The reason for this initiative was the valuable ecosystem of research, knowledge production and technological achievements that has been developed in our region and for which personally I insist to say that it evolves into a “small SILICON VALLEY”. 

Through the initiatives developed by the Chamber of Achaia as well as the exhibitions we have co-organized until now, we had the opportunity to meet bright minds with high scientific training and background,  who produce innovation, secure patents, collaborate with Greek companies and develop synergies with companies with an international presence. We are talking about computer chips, optical recognition and digital platforms, up to space technology and hydrogen technologies in a harmonious coexistence and all this around the University of Patras and the Hellenic Open University (both based in the city of Patras) but also initiatives and hubs such as the Patras Science Park, the Corallia Clusters, the Orange Grove, Aroma Hub etc. . 

Startups that were born in our region succeed to attract companies from abroad that ask to invest in local talents, expand their circle of collaborations, network and mature even more. The result is obvious: innovation is developed into a catalyst for the development of startups in the Achaia Prefecture as well as in its economy. This cycle becomes an ecosystem made of: the ideas, the universities and research centers, the Chambers, the Business Incubators, the potential investors, the private sector in our city and the State. All those actors “speak” the same language and share a common vision. The so-called exponential growth is coming, as has happened in countries like Israel. This is what PATRAS IQ is trying to do. 

To all these agents we also have to add a multitude of young scientists who seek innovation, experiment and participate with the goal of exchange. Human capital is a powerful weapon for Greece, and lately we have been observing a strong reversal of the painful brain drain that our country experienced after a long economic crisis.

In conclusion, we have bright minds and the will to achieve success. We have the equipment as well as the high scientific training and education. The question remains, then: what is missing? The supporting framework and key government directions and strategies to enable the respective ecosystem to flourish. We must recognize that the Hellenic Government has recently taken special measures to strengthen innovation structures, by introducing a new legislative framework for innovative businesses. 

The Chamber of Achaia is constantly active in this effort, supporting and helping in any way it is possible. In this context, it implements European programs, in collaboration with other bodies and Chambers from the Mediterranean basin, in the context of a common culture where the central objective is to highlight and support innovative young and potential entrepreneurs, to find progressive access and placement of their idea in the labor market. The main aim is to transform their business idea into reality, to adopt good success practices, to improve the required skills that the job market demands today, to help them build a strong network.

As an example, I would like to refer to the “INTECMED” project, in which the Chamber of Achaia is the lead partner. INTECMED, inspired by the successful organization of PATRAS IQ, develops actions to strengthen the innovation ecosystems in Greece, Spain, Tunisia and Egypt, through mentoring and maturation programs for startups as well as business grants to help innovators on their first steps.

What is more: the organization of the next PATRAS IQ in Patras, which will take place during the Spring of 2023 and without restrictions for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic, is a first-class opportunity for all ASCAME members to become well-known in the Mediterranean technological transfer ecosystem. It is an initiative which has proven a success and has become an annual event.