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28/05/2008 "Event staged by the Athina Research Centre for Innovation in Information, Communication and Knowledge Technologies, at the Evgenidio Foundation"

Address of welcome by the Special Secretary for Competitiveness at the Ministry of Development Mr. Lefteris Stavropoulos at the event staged by the Athina Research Centre for Innovation in Information, Communication and Knowledge Technologies, at the Evgenidio Foundation

Athens, 28 May 2008

Ladies and gentlemen,

I should like to thank you for honoring me with an invitation to attend this event, organized by the Athina Research Centre, on Digital Innovation for the Knowledge Society. I recently had the opportunity to visit the Athina Centre and meet some very talented scientists who are working there under the guidance of a distinguished researcher and teacher, Professor Karayiannis. I should like to assure you that the Ministry of Development recognizes the wealth and importance of the work being done by the Research Centre and fully supports you in your work to create innovations and promote their use by our people and in our country’s industry.

We are all aware every day that the environment around us is continually changing. But change should not alarm us. Changes are a challenge to us to find new paths ahead, to be positive and creative. New conditions mean new challenges and new opportunities. Knowledge and the exploitation of innovation will be our compass and engine room as we chart our new course into the future.

Adaptation to technological change and to developments in the marketplace is an absolute imperative, a necessity we cannot afford to ignore. Let me remind you of the words of Darwin, who said that ‘It is not the strongest species which survives, nor the most intelligent, but that which adapts best to changes’. I believe that we have no choice: we have to compete in a global village, in an era of internationalization of economies, of rapid quantitative and qualitative changes, of dramatic technological advances. An era in which low cost can no longer be the only crucial parameter in development, nor an indicator of the competitiveness of an economy.

This means that competitiveness is no longer a matter of cost, but of quality and high added value. The final products we manufacture and provide need to be better than those of our rivals. And one very important area in which Greece enjoys a significant competitive advantage is that of its culture and language. In this new era there are ways of capitalizing on these advantages, of promoting them through the new and innovative technologies that the Athina Centre is developing. Thus apart from creating new products and services which will provide new jobs and contribute to our economic growth, we can confidently continue to promote Greek civilization and share its enduring message and values with the rest of the world.

Within the Operational Programme ‘Competitiveness’ (EPAN) the Action ‘Creation of a Cluster Nucleus’ - a pioneering and highly ambitious undertaking involving a high degree of technological specialization, the expression of a shared vision and a fine example of cooperation between the public and private sector – provided the opportunity for the setting up of clusters of research centres and businesses in areas where there is already a competitive advantage and which combine knowledge intensity, high technology and export orientation, allowing the businesses to work together in a cluster to acquire an international presence and a significant share of their international markets.

The first results of the EPAN Action can be seen in the establishment of Corallia, the Hellenic Technology Clusters Initiative. Initiated by the Athina Centre, this first Greek cluster has been operational since September 2006. The thematic area in which this first cluster has evolved is the semiconductor, micro-electronics and integrated systems sector.

The window of opportunity for competitive clusters among technology businesses in Greece is now wide open and offers significant opportunities for companies to improve their competitiveness and create growth potential in domestic and international markets.

In the new programme period 2007-2013 the new EPAN, the Operational Programme ‘Competitiveness and Entrepreneurship’ (and I stress the importance of the new term ‘entrepreneurship’ which has been added to the old title) will once again prove, we hope, a driving force in the promotion of development and competitiveness.

Our central development objective for the Operational Programme ‘Competitiveness and Entrepreneurship’ is to improve the competitiveness and outward orientation of businesses, and of Greek industry in general, with the emphasis on the dimension of innovativeness. Innovation will be at the heart of the new economy we are building.

Our strategic objectives include acceleration of the transition to the knowledge economy, developing healthy, viable and outward-looking entrepreneurship. We are committed to making Greece more attractive as a location for the development of business activity – with respect for sustainability and the environment. We have incorporated into the Operational Programme ‘Competitiveness and Entrepreneurship’ the promotion of new actions to support strategic cooperation with research and technology agencies, creating knowledge-intensive clusters.

In order to compete successfully and to improve our standard of living in future, we need to create an environment in which important ideas can flourish and benefit not only their originators but also the whole of the country, of Europe, of the world beyond. No one now questions the need to place Greece firmly on the European and international competitive map, focusing on the three key values: high technology – knowledge intensity – outward orientation.

Thank you very much.

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The O.P. "Competitiveness" is co-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), the European Social Fund (ESF), the Greek Government and private funds.
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