ECONOMY

A business competition

The European Union provides member states with funding designed to link entrepreneurship with the educational system and promote cooperation between institutions of education and training and those of economy and production. Within the framework of a European Union funded program (EPEAEK II), the University of Piraeus is promoting a competition, sponsored by the Ministry of Education, which is open to college students, for the best «Entrepreneurial Ideas and Business Plan» (www.ideopolis2004.gr). The competition is directed by Professor Emmanuel K. Kondylis. «We have an obligation to the Greek people to promote a vision of entrepreneurship, of innovative thinking, of competitiveness, of private initiative,» Kondylis told Kathimerini in an interview, adding that acquiring knowledge is not enough by itself. He explains that the whole point has to do with the effective management of knowledge and learning at all educational levels, starting at elementary school and going all the way to the university, aiming at promoting development, cultivating entrepreneurship and helping it to materialize, «because this is the key to competitiveness.» Kondylis added that competitiveness on a personal as well as on a aggregate level is the result of the effective process of adding value to knowledge and learning, which may be accomplished by managing those «gifts» better than anyone else. The goal of the competition, which is open to all college and university level students regardless of age or discipline of study, is to promote and to encourage the entrepreneurial spirit, by supporting the best innovative ideas aiming at the establishment of new businesses. Applications for the «Entrepreneurial Idea» competition will by accepted up to November 29 and for the «Business Plan» section of the competition up to March 15, 2005. «Entrepreneurship is the basis for the affluence of individuals as well as of social groups,» notes Professor Kondylis, adding that it is the raw material of every aspiration for the production of material or intellectual wealth. At the same time, entrepreneurship may reduce social isolation, help citizens realize their potential, offer opportunity for the stimulation of talent and lead to the creation of jobs. A question is whether an «entrepreneurial idea» is the obvious prerequisite in order to start a business. «Many people have no original ideas. They only wish to have their own business. However, there are many choices available to any new businessperson, such as buying into a franchise, buying an established business or getting ideas from others. But once they go into business, they should be aware that they would have to work hard,» says Kondylis. He stresses that entrepreneurial ideas are often simply the result of careful observation of problems people face and the wish of the entrepreneur to offer them solutions.