The State aims to give start-ups a significant leg-up with the formation of TANEO, a vehicle which will invest via venture capital funds in businesses focusing on the new economy, National Economy Minister Yiannos Papantoniou said at the company’s official launch yesterday. Noting that start-ups are a source of new ideas and originality, he said that TANEO, a fully owned state enterprise funded to the tune of 150 billion drachmas, will help nurture and support new businesses as they take their first steps in the world. Papantoniou said the concept of venture capitals has yet to take hold in Greece, with the number of such companies in the country amounting to just a third of the average European Union figure. He said the decision to focus on new economy businesses came in the wake of the Lisbon Summit last March during which European Union leaders agreed to take steps aimed at making the EU the most competitive and dynamic economy of knowledge in the world. TANEO expects the private sector to match the State’s 150-billion-drachma fund with 1.5 trillion drachmas, the minister said. It will take a maximum 40-percent stake in venture capital funds. Referring to the current slump in dot.com companies and the dismal performance of the tech-heavy Nasdaq index, he said speculation that the new economy was coming to an end is premature. What has merely changed is the structure of the old economy. The phrase dot.com will mean little in a few years as companies become fully dependent on technology and the Internet. The minister said the launch of TANEO also points to a change in the official strategy on corporate assistance. The government in the future will focus more on indirect aid and less on direct assistance, he said. Planned changes to the tax system are also aimed toward his end. TANEO is headed by Chief Executive Giorgos Kintis. Applications for funding are open until December 31, 2004.