This week, a group of technology and business experts underscored the tremendous potential Cyprus holds as a technological destination. Despite the promise, they emphasized the need for concerted efforts to establish a knowledge-based economy on the island.
Ioannis Petris, CEO of Athlos Capital, spoke at the Economist Conference, acknowledging Cyprus’s potential while highlighting the importance of addressing several key pillars to create a robust tech cluster. He stressed the need for cultivating a business culture, exploring diverse funding avenues, and tackling the lack of loans for small businesses. Petris also emphasized the importance of a steady flow of skilled STEAM graduates and fostering a culture of research and innovation.
Identifying gaps in Cyprus’s technological landscape, Petris pointed to the crucial areas of a supportive legal framework and government support. He called for a shift in mindset to prioritize technological innovation on the national agenda.
Itai Green, founder and CEO of Innovate Israel, stressed the necessity of collaboration between the public and private sectors for the digitization of government services. Green suggested that governments create conditions for the private sector to excel, fostering innovation through collaboration with startups, academia, and competitors.
Demetris Spentzas, CTO of Ambience, highlighted the significance of education for developing a thriving, innovative, and diversified economy. He urged organizations to transform their processes and mindset before digitizing, emphasizing the need for businesses to adapt to available digital tools for increased effectiveness.
Elena Pantazi, Partner and Talent Development Specialist at Northzone, acknowledged global uncertainty in funding but highlighted Cyprus’s exceptional position to leverage innovation opportunities. She identified remote work as a growing trend and cited Cyprus as an attractive destination for creating distributed teams.
The experts collectively emphasized the importance of Cyprus investing in training and education, embracing digital transformation, and creating an environment conducive to innovation. They believed that Cyprus, with its access to the EU and close ties to Israel’s startup ecosystem, has a unique opportunity to become a hub for technological innovation in the region.
Simultaneously, Demetrios Zoppos, founder of 33East, announced that his venture has been selected by the European Investment Fund as Cyprus’ first publicly-supported venture capital fund. Zoppos aims to address a market gap by providing capital for entrepreneurial endeavors, particularly in the early stages of innovation. While acknowledging Cyprus’s potential to attract businesses, Zoppos emphasized the need for a new entrepreneurial model and highlighted an innovation gap in the early stages.
Zoppos expressed the view that Cyprus is not yet ready to be a producer of innovation, stressing the necessity of venture capital to cover this gap. He noted that much still needs to be done, including attracting international tech expertise, cultivating and developing local talent, providing incentives for technology investments, expanding and diversifying funding sources, reducing bureaucracy, and establishing networks between founders and investors.
In his concluding remarks, Zoppos emphasized the importance of shifting focus from simply attracting foreign companies to nurturing and developing local talent within Cyprus.