ECONOMY

Innovative firms get little support for investment

Thessaloniki – Greece lags behind considerably in innovation compared to the other European Union countries, northern Greek businessmen warned yesterday. As proof, they cited data showing that only 2.2 percent of Greek employees are employed in technologically advanced industries, compared to 7.6 percent in the EU. The Attica region has the greatest percentage of high-tech firm employees (3.5 percent), while, at the other extreme, only 1.4 percent of employees in western Greece work in technologically advanced firms. The Federation of Northern Greek Industries (SVVE) set up a Regional Innovation and Entrepreneurship Observatory last year to advise companies on investing in new technologies and on reorganizing production. The observatory has found that in Central Macedonia, its area of operation, only about one in 10 enterprises are active in high technology and patent applications. The percentage of such companies varied considerably from sector to sector. Little financial support In a press conference yesterday, SVVE President Dimitris Symeonidis and the observatory’s scientific director Tassos Alexandridis, along with representatives of the Foundation for Economic and Industrial Research (IOBE) and consultants BCS, presented the results of a survey conducted between May and August this year on 40 enterprises considered as innovative. The survey also included 20 consultants and 14 support bodies, both private and public. The most important finding of the survey is that the banking sector does not encourage innovation. It simply fails to acknowledge the needs of small and medium-sized enterprises and is extremely reluctant to undertake risks by lending to them. The survey found that 78 percent of the companies in the sample used self-financing to implement innovation-enhancing investments. Other, less surprising, findings included the fact that employees in these companies were more skilled and with a higher educational level than those in non-innovating companies. The findings of the survey will be presented in detail at a conference on innovation, which will take place in Thessaloniki on October 8.