The initiative of French Ambassador in Athens Christophe Chantepy for a Greek-French cooperation to support innovative start-ups in the technology sector has taken shape and is called “Mazinnov” – combining the Greek word “mazi” (together) and innovation.
The project started a year ago, in the context of the cooperation agreed by Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and then French President Francois Hollande. The agreement signed by the two sides in 2015 during Hollande’s visit to Athens included a special paragraph on innovation – after Chantepy’s intervention – given that, as the ambassador says, the cultural and educational exchanges between the two countries were already extensive.
“Cooperation in the field of innovation was missing,” Chantepy says, explaining that the outcome of this effort is the Mazinnov network of people, enterprises, academic and research centers, public entities and others that are already in contact and working together.
The people in this network all got together for the first time at the inaugural Greek-French Innovation Forum last year in Greece, and this week, they convened for a second time at Technopolis in Athens. “This was the second event – last year’s was like a test,” the French diplomat said, adding, “The people who met [last year] knew each other from before, but they formalized this cooperation by signing a charter of cooperation between Greek and French individuals and entities.”
Participating in that event in 2016 were 15 company incubators and more than 15 networks supporting and financing start-ups, and over 365 business ideas were presented along with more than 100 talks by experts. Then, supported by Mazinnov and the French Embassy in Athens, a number of Greek companies attended forums and start-up fairs in Paris and other French cities.
This week’s second forum in Athens was based on an original idea: It called on Greek and French enterprises to adopt start-ups in Greece or France, either alone or as a group. There was a lot of interest, the French ambassador says, noting that over 50 enterprises expressed an interest in taking part in the program – mainly French firms adopting Greek start-ups. Another idea that came up during the forum was inviting pupils at Greek and French schools to visualize the Greece of 2050.