University & Startup cooperation

The greek Startup ecosystem has evolved a lot over the past 6 years. Back at that period, Startup was an unknown word for the Greek reality that only tech geeks in Silicon Valley knew – Greek stereotypes. The current reality is totally different and most of its development is based on Universities’ approach over this subject and / or from students’ individual movements.

A huge step forward for the capital of Greece, Athens, and its most known University – Athens University of Economics and Business – to plant the Startup culture in the students’ everyday life, came from a group of students. They visualize a platform, or better said an organization, where someone could develop his entrepreneurship skills through interactive learning activities. They wanted to awake the mind of young individuals to be more thoughtful over business. So they invent an organization called ThinkBiz. Over the last 4 years of its existence they have implemented more than 35 educational activities on Youth and have participated on more than 50 events, all over Greece, in order to spread the spirit of entrepreneurship to as many students as possible using interactive learning and best case practices from Greece and abroad!

They weren’t the only ones who were taking the initiative of innovation to implement it to our Greek society. A movement that turned into tradition and continued for a second year in a row, come almost from students. They believed so hard in the power of youth entrepreneurship and wanted to combine it with most young persons’ passion…travelling! So they created strong partnerships and with tons of innovation drops in their mind, they managed to establish a Startup Contest on a Cruise ship, the CruiseInn. For one week, more than 25 young people were talking about innovation and entrepreneurship, attending workshops on Greek startup ecosystem from well-known co-working spaces and people of the market and at the end, into groups, they were presenting their business ideas to a group of judges. The 3 best case were receiving different prizes and sponsorships in order to bring their ideas into reality.

On a different Startup contest, but truly famous all over the world, the Startup Weekend University was and still is, a strong participant in the development of entrepreneurship inside Universities. A contest that accepts only students, that have an idea to present in front of an audience, following a part of voting for the 15 best ideas that will compete to each other for the next 48 hours in order to present their Most Valuable Product by the end of the Weekend (on Sunday). Sponsors, companies, coaches, co-working spaces, private educational institutions and lots of other supporters create a safe environment for every person to feel comfortable to build their own project along with their team. The most important, most of the teams, were getting together from people that have never met each other and ending up building beautiful companies or organizations. A brilliant Greek example of that is “ethelon” that on its 4 year running, start from one person’s idea (GloVo) that evolved into an Organization that has offered more than 90 individual professional experiences and has served more than 1.500.000 people through their services.

Last but not at all least, we’re going back inside the University field. Where the Greek Educational system took the stand not a long time ago, to create individual organizations in all the big institutions around Greece. The Greek government of Education established Innovation and Entrepreneurship Units with the intention to flourish entrepreneurship to young students. These Units, according to its institutions reality, were creating projects, educational seminars, interactive speeches and valuable workshops. The last five years, more than 15 Entrepreneurship Summer School happened with National and International participants.

I’m very optimistic and confident at the same time, that the next Generation of first grade students in our Universities will be getting valuable knowledge towards entrepreneurship in order to create their own personal businesses, either from their fellow students or its institutions.

Were those movements and projects enough for our Greek country in need?

What it will take actually to create the spark of innovation to young person I wonder?

 

Written by Nikos Foros

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