Eric Schmidt of Google: Athens can become a Mecca of Technology

Eric Schmidt“Greece could make its capital a high tech Mecca,” said Eric Schmidt, Executive Chairman of Google during his lecture, entitled Technology as a Spark for Growth, he gave at Megaron Plus, in central Athens, Greece.

First of all, Schmidt expressed his gratitude to Greece for inventing mathematics and then he went on supporting that nowadays Greece has the conditions to achieve this aim, like a highly skilled workforce and a good education system.

In his opinion, the bureaucratic obstacles have to be raised in order for intensive-knowledge companies which would establish “technology nodes” in Athens, with an internationally competitive presence.  More importantly, he added that the low wages in IT, i.e. the field of information technology in the country, the cheap infrastructure as well as the presence of many universities in Athens are comparative advantages that Greece should not leave unexploited.

Though he didn’t to want to reveal more information, he said that Google will seek to contribute towards this direction, which was one of the reasons of his visit in the country, and of his meeting with Antonis Samaras. “The Greek prime minister is aware of how detrimental it is for the economy the high rates of unemployment in IT,” was his only comment on the meeting that took place before his lecture.

After mentioning that in Greece the economic crisis has left wounds that are hard to heal, Schmidt added that the recession and the rise of unemployment is not a Greek particularity, but rather a problem with international dimensions.  According to Google’s Executive Chairman, this is due to the fact that the developed countries have to face the challenges brought about by globalization and the mass transfer of positions for unskilled labor in the Asian region. In addition, the developed societies have one more problem to deal with, the aging of population which is becoming increasingly acute.

For him, the only way to achieve growth is through innovation. To support his view, he cited international surveys that show that for each high tech workplace, five more are created in the local economy. He also stressed that these jobs are done in much better conditions than in the past.

So, for Eric Schmidt, especially for Greece, the creation of high tech workplaces is imperative, as the problem of unemployment is urgent; if not solved immediately, it will soon create more consequences. “Regardless of the size they might have, it is the start-ups that mainly do recruits.  So Greece has to encourage the creation of hi-tech businesses of any size and scope- from locally operating businesses, to companies with an international presence,” he underlined.

Observing what has happened in Greece since the beginning of the crisis, he said that he was deeply impressed by the patience that the Greek people have shown. “Now, I can tell that I will leave even more impressed,” he stated in the end of his lecture.

  • Guest

    Eric Schmidt is a businessmen. He will give a similar speech in every country he visits.His goal is to make money (not a crime) so he’ll use flattery as a tool (which our slow witted leftists fall for it every time)

    If one uses Google maps, one can see what Google call the former Yugoslavia region of Vardar. If one uses Google translate, one can see what Google calls a certain Bulgarian dialect modified by Yugoslav communists. This pattern of evasion on FYROM should show any rational Greek exactly how much any foreigner “cares” about Greeks.

    Greece can become a technology center but it can only become again if the Greek people put aside the nonsense of tourism and selling olives. Our energies should be on Hellenic classics like physics and mathematics rather than sitting waiting around for people who couldn’t care less about Greeks to fix our country.

  • NewScene

    To become a technology center you need flexibility and room for creativity to prosper. Right now, the bureaucracy is still too convoluted that it makes it very difficult to start a tech business in Greece. A lot of progress has been made, but more needs to be done. The challenge with physics and mathematics is that Greece sometimes does too too much academic education and not enough pragmatic education; things people can use for business.

  • Michel

    We need more pragmatic view of the
    situation rather than the dogmatic cathedra opinion of the Greek overall
    situation and its theoretical remedies. Greeks they do invent a lot of things
    and we are proud of that but we have to admit that the Greece of Pericles or
    Thales has nothing to do with the Greece of today. Innovation is transforming
    the ideas to money (and obviously to employment). Greece misses a state
    structure who favors ideas emergence and startups proliferation (seed
    financing). I do not have the solution but I show a country with a lot of
    similarities with Greece who is the most successful on transforming
    ideas to money and employment: ISRAEL

    My suggestion to those who are
    responsible of the future growth of the Greek economy and they do believe that high tech innovation especially in the area of IT may be the solution, to go in Israel, visit the universities campus and the high tech incubators in Haifa and Tel Aviv,discuss, learn, and collaborate with those very clever people to transpose what has worked for them to Greece.

    All this however requires some kind
    of humility that “someone else somewhere in the planet can do it better than we
    do”. For the Greek intelligentsia and
    political leaders who contribute at more or less degree to the actual catastrophic
    economic situation this should not be a problem…