In this episode of Smart Regions, we meet the people behind Corallia, a unit of the Athena research center in Greece that brings together hi-tech clusters, business incubators, and extensive entrepreneurship programmes. Corallia’s aim is to help local businesses and start-ups to grow from the ground up, and reach the international arena.
Corallia works with more than 500 innovative enterprises, and has established three high tech clusters, an attractive proposition for investors, who have so far pumped over 500 million euros of private and foreign investment into the organization.
Senior manager of Corallia, Nancy Liva, said the goal of the company is to “connect companies of all sizes, universities, research centers, business angels and financial institutions.
“Our role is to be a cluster facilitator and bring together all those actors in order to collaborate and grow their companies.”
One way Corallia is facilitating business growth, is by supporting STARTAB, an entrepreneurship program which is designed for young ‘start-uppers’. On the scheme, they have the opportunity to participate in seminars and get a mentor to foster their ideas and plans.
Komitis Stavros is a young ‘start-upper’ who took part in the programme, and told Euronews that before he came to STARTAB, he only had a “general idea” of what he wanted to do with the business, however the program gave him a “more specific idea in the tasks that [he] needs to focus [his] energy and time on.”
Corallia also supports various accelerator programs, including the Eurobank-sponsored Enter Grow Go (EGG), the most successful business accelerator in Greece.
One startup that grew here, for example, is an automated smart farm that allows you to grow salad indoors without soil.
Between 2007 and 2020, the project, “Corallia Establishment and Development of the Hellenic Technology Clusters Initiative” received 36 million euros in European funding, and Corallia is now considered one of the 15 best EU-funded programs in Europe.
But Corallia’s success can also be measured in other ways; it has won a score of awards, and was even nominated for the latest RegioStars Awards, having been shortlisted in 2009 in the category “Research, Technological Development and Innovation”.
Christina Vassilopoulou, Manager of Corallia, told Euronews that they help the country “focus on indicators like high skilled employment, new patents, brand names and industrial property rights along with new products, new services and new synergies.”
To give a flavor of the rich variety of businesses Corallia supports, one successful venture is SaMMY, a tech platform that brings a global digital transformation to marinas and connects them with sea-travelers. Through their app, sea travelers can reserve a mooring spot, guided by real time data about free spaces in marinas based on sensors.
Ioannis Kostopulos from SaMMY, explained that he plans to expand this innovation across Greece and around the world, fulfilling Corallia’s goal of helping Greek companies to spread their wings and take on global markets.