Young entrepreneurs are concentrated in the collaborative space of Alexander Innovation Zone (AIZ) In the conference room another work meeting is in full swing. The environment is modern and pleasant, the colors are bright, the lighting is abundant and the technological equipment ensures fast and secure connections.
In AIZ the new support incubator has been operating for some time (Startup Pre-Incubator) in the new facilities inside the historical center of Thessaloniki where the new Startup Incubator was relocated in early 2020. The Pre-Incubator offers a range of services and resources to start-ups and research teams, that are hosted in its facilities with the aim of exploiting innovation to generate economic results.
The building also houses a reception office of Elevate Greece (contact point, help desk) to assist start-ups based in North Greece to apply for their official certification from the General Secretariat of Research and Innovation and their active participation in the common actions of the related institutions.
Alexander Innovation Zone is an institution synonym to innovation.
AIZ participates among others in the pre-incubator startup of OKThess, which is a broader collaborative structure with international support. Its purpose is to receive and support the ideas of young scientists and researchers who want to create their own start-up business and after that, the supply of incubators that operate in AIZ with mature initiatives capable of seeking external funding. With this support 15 acceleration cycles have been realized so far.
The first Digital Innovation Center for Agri-Food.
AIZ is the only institution that establishes Reception Pockets of Innovative Activities
Α property of the Greek State 60.000sqm has been granted to Alexander Innovation Zone by the Ministry of Rural Development and Food in order to establish a Reception Pocket of Innovative Activities of Agri-Food Sector. The grant also includes the creation of all the necessary building, technical and technological infrastructure and facilities that will ensure the effective operation of AIZ S.A., which will have both the support and the management of the Pocket.
We think globally, we act locally
We are reinforcing the bridge of knowledge and cooperation between academic research and the market. “Our mission is to make Northern Greece a hub friendly to innovation and entrepreneurship, attractive to live, work and invest but also attract startups and large companies from all over the world. We think globally, we act locally”, states the President of AIZ, Panayiotis Ketikidis. In order to make Thessaloniki an innovation-friendly destination AIZ has set the following strategic goals:
Expansion of existing businesses at international level that is based on collaborations with all institutions in Northern Greece to build a strong and sustainable innovation ecosystem (Northern Greece Scaleup)
Promote and encourage a culture of cooperation, innovation and entrepreneurship. Supporting the development of new businesses and encouraging risk-taking and experimentation. Access to capital and other resources, such as mentoring, training and financing options, such as angel investment, venture capital and more.
Developing long-term cooperation at local, national and international level with the aim of mutually reinforcing competitiveness.
Development and management of infrastructure for supporting academic research and business community.
International partnerships to attract direct foreign investment. Creating an attractive ecosystem that encourages investors and innovative entrepreneurs from abroad.
The innovation system’s activators
AIZ is becoming a strategic innovation arm with the partnership and cooperation of all the
involved stakeholders. The central message “We should think globally and act locally” is reflected in the balance between global and local networking. After all, this is also the vision for the future: to create an ecosystem that inspires growth, innovation and cooperation. In the ecosystem that is being built, the following activators are involved:
- Academic and research community
- Business community
- Public institutions (municipalities, Region of Central Macedonia)
- Business associations (Champers of Commerce, organizations, clusters)
- Financial organization
“In this ecosystem AIZ, along with the partners and stakeholders, is at the forefront of creating solutions that address the challenges our communities face both locally and in the global level. Our focus will be on creating a more sustainable, fair and more inclusive future for all. To achieve this vision, an inclusive culture of cooperation is systematically cultivated, where different perspectives and skills are valued and harnessed to drive innovation and growth.” The Alexander Innovation Zone gives the ability to its partners to undertake calculated risks and embrace new ideas, while providing them with the resources and support they need to succeed.
The history of the foundation and its development so far
Alexander Innovation Zone established by the law 3489/2006, with the main task of organising and managing the innovation zone of Thessaloniki. Zone of Innovation of Thessaloniki defines the area within which organizations, institutions and businesses of the public and private sector are located. Among them a field of synergy and cooperation is created with a view to developing research, innovation and technology in areas of relevance to the Greek economy and the exploitation of their results by integrating them into manufactured goods or services, by existing or newly established innovative enterprises.
ΑΙΖ’s aim is to have the critical role in the development of an active innovation ecosystem that supports the successful growth of startups and media in the region of Northern Greece.
The most important milestones in the evolution of AIZ were:
- The granting of land in the east of Thessaloniki for the establishment of the first Agri-food Pocket.
- The creating of the first support mechanism for new ideas (ThessmartInnoHub).
- The granting of land for the establishment of the Tecnological Park ThessINTEC
- The relocation of the company to its new premises, where a range of services and actions are offered within the innovation ecosystem of the city.
Editor: STELINA MARGARITIDOY
Version in English: LINA TSINGANA