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Two “Best Presenter” Awards for Greek delegation of SEERC to the 4th Balkan Venture Forum in Tirana

Two “Best Presenter” Awards for Greek delegation of SEERC to the 4th Balkan Venture Forum in Tirana
Added on 26/11/2013

In great success resulted the Greek delegation to the 4th Balkan Venture Forum in Tirana on Nov 14-15, 2013. SEERC, the research centre of the International Faculty of the University of Sheffield - CITY College in Thessaloniki, supported the participation of Greek start-ups at the Forum by organising a delegation to Tirana comprising 18 start-up companies and innovation experts from various parts of Greece.

The Balkan Venture Forum Tirana created the platform for regional entrepreneurs to connect with international investors and business partners. The fourth event in a series, the Forum sought to stimulate regional entrepreneurs to look across national borders and bring their business solutions to regional and global markets.

The Forum attracted over 250 participants from Albania, the Western Balkans, South-East Europe, Europe and beyond including start-up companies, innovation experts, investors, business angels, support agencies, and government representatives.

Out of the 11 Greek companies participating at the Forum 8 ventures were among the 28 selected participants in a highly competitive pitching contest to present their compelling innovative business ideas in front of a jury of international experts and investors. 2 out of the final 7 winners of the Pitching contest were from Greece: Epikoinonia from Thessaloniki (represented by Anastasios Moutzouris) and Energomechanic from Heraklion Crete (represented by Emmanouil Tsikandilakis, with 'Sunnyclist'- a new type of urban solar vehicle), winner of the competition within the MESUP project of the Science & Tech Park Crete. The winners will participate in the European Venture Summit in Düsseldorf, Germany, on Dec. 9-10. The other Greek companies participating at the Forum were:

  • Aterin, Thessaloniki (represented by Mr. Stavros Ioannidis)
  • Webtheater , Athens (represented by Mr. Aggelos Stamatopoulos)
  • Heeelp me, Thessaloniki (represented by Ms. Foteini Kandiliari)
  • ErgoQ, Thessaloniki (represented by Mr. Salih Emin)
  • Bluperty, Athens (represented by Ms. Alkisti Zina)
  • Nessos, Athens (represented by Dr. George Stavroulakis)
  • C2BII, Athens (represented by Mr. Charalampos Oikonomidis)
  • Skyworks, Thessaloniki (represented by Mr. Ioannis Papikas)
  • and a student team from the University of Western Macedonia, Kozani (represented by Mr. Petros Perlantidis Papadopoulos and Mr. Georgios Kakamoukas)

The other participants of the delegation organised by SEERC included Prof. Yiannis Bakouros from the University of Western Macedonia, Mr. Artemis Saitakis, Director of Tech & Science Park Crete, Ms. Adriane Thrash from the American College of Thessaloniki, Mr. Argyris Spyridis from the Innovation Farm Thessaloniki, Mr. Themis Plalis from Ariadne, Kilkis, as well as Mr. Nikos Zaharis and Mr. Andreas Baresel-Bofinger from SEERC.

In his opening remarks Mr. Niko Peleshi, Deputy Prime Minister to the Republic of Albania, emphasized the importance of startup development in Albania and the region through investment-oriented events and entrepreneurial support programmes and ensured that the government would “not be a headache” in this process. Citing the Austrian economist Joseph Schumpeter, the mission director of USAID in Albania, Dr. Jim Barnhart, pointed out the important role of start-up companies as a force of “creative destruction” to unleash new competitive powers in the economy. The keynote speaker of the first day, Mr. Baybars Altuntas, the president of the Business Angels Association of Turkey, highlighted the various milestones in the entrepreneurial career path and the crucial role of entrepreneurial decision making and risk assessment. In the investor panel regarding the latest trends in financing start-ups in the region of South-East Europe, Mr. William Stevens, the founder and CEO of Europe Unlimited, the co-organsier of the Forum, stressed the importance of investors joining forces to address the needs in the region and act on a transnational level. He emphasized that platforms such as the Balkan Venture Forum provide investors with the opportunity to find suitable co-investment partners in order to be able to spread the involved risks and feel more comfortable in their investment decisions. The keynote speaker of the second day, the Albanian born founder and managing partner of Boston Global Ventures, Mr. Vivjan Myrto, accentuated the necessity for entrepreneurs to “make their product sparkle” in order to attract investors’ support. The minimum viable product that he compared to a “patient in intensive care who is alive but not fun to spend a lot of time with”, would just not be good enough. The Minister of Innovation and Public Administration of the Republic of Albania, Dr. Milena Harito, after having expressed in her closing speech the readiness for supporting the start-up companies in Albania, handed out the awards to the winners of the Pitching competition.

The presenting 28 ventures stemmed from Albania, other Western Balkan countries and the South-East European region, and were from various business sectors, ranging from ICT, media to clean tech. They were selected from over 100 applications by an international jury based upon merit in the following categories: Business potential; Team experience; Product / technology; Competitive position; Investment potential. The Pitching competition was carried out in five separate sessions in which the presenters were given 8 minutes to present their business idea to an audience of investors and experts followed by a 7 minutes questions and answers session. The Forum was preceded by a Venture Academy where the start-ups received particular training and preparation for their pitching on the following days. This kind of preparation was highly appreciated by the ventures as an ample opportunity for learning and improvement.

From all sides it was recognized that the Balkan Venture Forum constitutes an essential contribution to the growth and development of a thriving entrepreneurial and start-up ecosystem in the region. The Greek participants of the delegation of SEERC attested a high quality to the Balkan Venture Forum and asserted that it helped them improve their approach to potential investors and to discover inconsistencies in their business model. The coaching opportunities were very well appreciated as were the networking and the exchange of innovative ideas. The pitching sessions were seen as a learning experience as presenter and as spectator. Also experts and investors found plenty opportunity to make new contacts and discover new ideas. All participants would recommend the participation in future similar events.

With three previous editions (Skopje, Belgrade & Sofia), the Balkan Venture Forum series has gathered over 1.000 relevant industry participants. For more information, please visit .

The next Balkan Venture Forum will be organised in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, in May 2014.

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