ECONOMY

Small IT firms are rewarded for their plans

Several small technology companies have managed to sidestep the business problems of major information technology firms and develop products or solutions for markets that have shown rapid growth rates. Three such cases were rewarded yesterday within the context of the 7th International Venture Capital Forum, which heard the views of sector professionals about the course of the business holdings market. All three companies awarded are based in Patras. The first award went to the business plan of Advent Technologies: The company produces and develops new material and systems for renewable energy source products, such as fuel cells and photovoltaic systems. The second award was given to Sienje Technologies. In cooperation with Deutsche Telekom, Sienje intends to create 2,500 hotspots allowing for IT roaming the same way as is done in cellular telephony. Finally, the third prize was awarded to Diaplous Machine Vision, involved in automatic vision and targeting the global market with the development of systems for mechanical vision. Held at the old airport at Hellenikon, the Forum is organized by the Hellenic Investment Center (ELKE), the New Economy Development Fund (TANEO) and the PRAXI network in association with the Hellenic Venture Capital Association (HVCA). Yiannis Anastassopoulos, president of ELKE, said in his speech that the total amount of foreign investments in renewable energy sources in Greece, which were either completed or near completion in 2005 with the support of ELKE, reached 453 million euros, 95 million euros of which concerned foreign capital. In the next three years, annual investment of 400-450 million euros is expected. Anastassopoulos also said that in the tourism sector, certain tourism groups from Belgium, Cyprus, Spain and Germany have either bought plots of land and are proceeding to develop investment plans in Greece, or are looking into expansion in Greece. Regarding the sectors of information technology and communications and of biotechnology, he said considerable interest has been expressed (mentioning a major listed German company in software development) but is in search of a partnership in order to create first a projects sector and then a software development unit. Investments of more than 60 million euros are also expected in broadband networks. The ELKE president further referred to the case of a chocolate products company that is looking into its commercial expansion initially in Greece, as well as that of a food products firm that is interested in setting up a standardization and packaging unit. Tomorrow more than 200 business meetings will take place between venture capital companies and businesspeople from many countries.