A number of big technology investments have been announced lately in Greece placing the country on the map of intriguing digital developments. Infrastructure investments and acquisitions by big US and European tech companies along with a dynamic startup ecosystem in the country are making Greece a remarkable case of digital transformation efforts. Greece aims to improve its technological and innovation footprint taking into consideration the increasing demand for automation and digitalization both in public and private sectors, taking also advantage of all available funding.
Apart from attracting remarkable technology investments that enhance the digital and innovative profile of the country, Greece has also gradually started to attract a number of “digital nomads”, workers that choose to work remotely in places that fulfil criteria such as good climate, hospitality, interesting landscapes, culture and low cost of living, offering in any case satisfactory digital infrastructure. Digital nomads are usually designers, copywriters, marketers, entrepreneurs or programmers who are able to work remotely.
The latest technology investments and acquisitions described below show how Greece has made significant steps in the technology domain, since it is a catalyst for growth and a key factor for the transformation the country’s economic model.
Microsoft’s datacenters in Greece and the digital preservation of Culture
Microsoft has announced its intent to build new datacenters in Greece establishing a Microsoft Cloud region in the country that will add Greece to the world’s largest cloud infrastructure footprint and will deliver access to low-latency, enterprise-grade cloud services. This infrastructure will give the opportunity to local companies, startups and institutions to fully utilize the potential of cloud computing, while maintaining the highest cybersecurity, data residency and compliance standards.
Greece’s digital transformation will benefit from this investment since reliable cloud services are crucial for the development of digital economy. This large investment which is estimated to bring financial benefits of 1 billion euros to the country in the long term, is a vote of confidence in Greece’s potential enabling at the same time innovation and growth across the country’s economy.
The initiative, which is named “GR for GRowth”, also foresees plans to skill approximately 100,000 people in Greece addressed to public sector, business and IT professionals, educators, and students so as to support the digital transformation of public and private organizations in the country. This ambitious goal will be achieved over the next five years, through a three-pronged skilling program that includes online and physical courses and workshops.
Palaestra, a place for the training of wrestlers at Olympia the site of the Olympic Games in classical times / Wikimedia Commons / Ronny Siegel / CC BY
In addition, Microsoft’s cloud services will play a key role in creating new ways to digitally preserve, celebrate and experience the culture of Greece. A first example of this will be the 3D presentation of the Ancient City of Olympia bringing the city’s monuments and artifacts to life using arulture tificial intelligence and other technologies. The project that has been approved by the Archaeological Council (KAS) will give people around the world the opportunity to experience Olympia as it was nearly 3,000 years ago.
Acquisition of the Greek-owned Robotics Firm Softomotive by Microsoft
The Greek-owned Robotics Firms Softomotive was acquired in May 2020 by Microsoft, the US-based software giant, for more than 100 million euros. Softomotive is considered a pioneer in robotics process automation (RPA), a technological sector that concerns software used for the automation of processes a computer user repeatedly executes. RPA is a technology enjoying great demand as it helps businesses save time, cut costs, increase work efficiency and relieve their workers of processes that can be implemented mechanically.
Softomotive has created one of the industry’s most intuitive user interfaces aiming to abstract complexity away from end users. It is really fascinating that Microsoft chose to expand the RPA domain via Softomotive technology, which was used successfully in the banking and insurance sectors, as well as by healthcare companies. It is also possible that a research and technology center for Microsoft’s RPA will open in Greece.
Softomotive was founded in Athens 15 years ago by Marios Stavropoulos and at the time of the acquisition it was cooperating with more than 9,000 international clients. It opened its London offices in 2015 while it had a presence in New York, India and South Korea. In 2018, the British investment company Grafton Capital invested in Softomotive $25 million.
Pfizer pharmaceutical to establish a research hub in Thessaloniki
Pfizer, the American multinational pharmaceutical corporation, has announced the establishment of a digital research hub with a focus on artificial intelligence and big data analytics in Thessaloniki, Northern Greece. The Thessaloniki hub is part of a planned multinational network of six digital research centers with the aim to develop technology that can be incorporated into Pfizer’s development pipeline of medicines and vaccines.
Pfizer plans to partner with universities and local innovation incubators as they are aligned with the strategic priorities of the company aiming also to build on the digital talent across multiple disciplines that exists in Thessaloniki and within the country as well. Thessaloniki also possesses a favorable geographic position allowing for positive collaboration across the other worldwide digital hubs at Pfizer.
Cisco’s innovation center in Thessaloniki
CISCO's Digital Transformation Center in Thessaloniki (photo taken from DTC website)
Thessaloniki was also chosen to host the International Digital Transformation Center of the US tech giant CISCO becoming thus member of an international network that aims to enhance innovation, accelerate digital transformation, enhance digital skills and promote digital culture. The Center in partnership with the local academic community and startups will analyze and propose solutions that concern any area of economic and social life implementing innovation programs, developing research projects and promoting startup entrepreneurship.
Through these synergies innovative solutions concerning smart city’s issues such as smart parking, smart lighting, smart waste management etc or renewable energy projects will be developed and presented to the public. The Center will be an open organization that school and university students will have the opportunity to visit along with people interested in technological achievements.
At the same time, the Center will have a training department - Cisco Networking Academy (www.netacad.com) - as well as STEM and Robotics departments, aiming to enhance the digital skills of students and professionals.
A Research and Development Hub in Ioannina
A Research & Development Hub was inaugurated in Ioannina by TeamViewer, the German tech company and provider of a global remote connectivity platform. The new R&D location underscores TeamViewer’s goal to further spur innovation, which will help diversify its product range even further in order to serve more use cases and an even more diverse customer set, while expanding to more geographies worldwide at the same time.
The TeamViewer R&D hub in Ioannina houses some newly established agile teams and talents who will enhance the R&D’s engineering capabilities as the company’s software solutions foster global mega trends such as digital transformation, robotics and automation or Industrial Internet of Things. The new R&D teams in Ioannina will play a pivotal role towards reinforcing more innovation across the entire organization’s product portfolio.
The company will collaborate with local universities and departments specializing in the computer science field attracting talents and creating for them successful career paths. The center currently employs 17 engineers from Greece and abroad and TeamViewer plans to expand the workforce up to 150 – 200 engineers over the next years. Already in 2020 more than 50 software developers shall be onboarded to the new hub.
The Mega Thessaloniki International Technology Center "Thess-INTEC" Project
A Mega Project concerning the establishment of an International Technology Center in Thessaloniki “Thess-INTEC”, focused on innovative partnerships between research and industrial actors of the region and the world, is under development by the Thessaloniki Technology Park. The aim of the Center estimated to open its doors in 2023, is to create a symbiotic environment for innovative companies, to offer an infrastructure for collocation and a place for cooperation between public and private research continuously creating value propositions for foreign and local investors (incentives, funding opportunities etc).
The Center will focus on areas such as Advanced Materials and Manufacturing Processes, Artificial Intelligence and Simulation Applications, Clean Energy Innovative Solutions, Business & Logistics etc. Thess-INTEC will offer easy access to European, Balkan and Middle East markets along with an attractive living experience for researchers, employees and visitors while providing a unique approach for triple helix mega projects promoting interactions between academia, private and public institutions.
Seventy big Greek industries and companies have already agreed to move their research departments in the new Thess-INTEC park that is expected to attract business investments of more than 350 million euros in ten years’ time, while both public and private investments is expected to reach 1.5 billion euros.
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