Did you know that it’s Greek software which allows your smartphone to access Wi-Fi hotspots?
In a surprising twist to Greece’s economic story, Greek start-ups are giving the geeks of Silicon Valley a run for their money. That’s why Neelie Kroes’ StartUpEurope Tour is stopping off in Athens today.
Neelie Kroes said: “The Athens tech scene is hot and getting hotter. Not a moment too soon. A digital turnaround is fundamental to Greece catching up lost economic ground.”
Today’s “Greekcovery” event is being held at the Orange Grove, a flexible workspace run by the Dutch Embassy in Athens, where Greek and Dutch entrepreneurs can work on their businesses, network and learn.
Here are seven of the hottest Greek tech start-up projects with international reach:
HELIC – Smashing smartphone barriers globally
If you own a smartphone, it most probably uses technology developed by Helic. Helic dates back in 1994, when its creators (then PhD students in Athens) were trying to predict how a spool would react after being inserted in a chip. At the time, only 4-5 people worldwide were interested in this topic. A few years later, an investor from the US offered them their first injection of capital. Their research led to the development of software tools which designers worldwide use today to design wireless chips which connect smartphones to headsets or Wi-Fi hotspots, act as FM Radios or offer GPS services. Helic technology allows hardware companies to, for instance, analyse the spiral inductor, a device found today on wireless chips, in seconds (before Helic this process took hours to perform). They are also offering a “shrinking machine” for silicon, allowing smartphones to become smaller, thinner, lighter and cheaper. Serving clients like Intel, Sony, Fujitsu, Samsung, Huawei, Panasonic, the company now has branches in Athens and Volos (Greece), in San Jose (California) and in Yokohama (Japan). Watch this video presentation from TEDxAcademy.
RAYCAP – keeping your internet running
Another start-up that turned into a multinational is Raycap, a designer of industrial lightning protection and cable management solutions for mobile operators. Their systems are used to protect crucial electronic infrastructure (in telecoms, industrial automation, defence, power generation, etc.) from extreme weather conditions, such as lightning. This is becoming increasingly important as modern, highly sensitive radars are very sensitive to bad weather, which means they could be vulnerable when they are needed the most. Based in Athens, Raycap has production units in Drama (Greece), the US and Romania, and subsidiaries in several countries Germany, Switzerland, Mexico, Canada and others.
CONSTELEX – Greeks in Space
With the assistance of EU funding and the support of the European Space Agency, Constelex, a small 4-year-old start-up, designs and develops optical fibre amplifiers and photonic systems for future fibre-optic communication networks. In addition to terrestrial telecommunication systems, Constelex devices can be applied in remote sensing and satellite applications. Especially in the space domain, Constelex systems can be applied in high-speed intra and inter-satellite photonic systems that can now enable new Earth Observation and Satellite telecommunication missions. A few weeks ago, Constelex was acquired by Gooch & Housego, a leading European manufacturer of optical components and systems. The acquisition could allow for the application of this technology to next generation satellite systems that will use light as a means of more advanced, reliable and faster communications.
TAXIBEAT- the smart way to catch a taxi
Greek businesses are also present in the mobile App scene. Taxibeat is a free app allowing you to choose the nearest taxi based on desired features (nicest vehicle, most recommended driver, free Wi-Fi, on-board chargers, pets on board, baby seats, etc.). When you select a taxi, the app locates you instantly, so the driver knows where to pick you up from (and you can see them approach you on the map). Taxibeat is available in Athens and Thessaloniki, Paris, Mexico City, Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paolo.
COOKISTO – turning home cooks into micro-businesses
Cookisto is an online community where users can find home-cooked dishes prepared by local cooks or post their own dishes. Ordering meals is made easy by features such as the ability to “follow” a cook (meaning you enjoy their dishes and services and want to be notified whenever they post a new dish), to review dishes and cooks, to request specific dishes you’d like to taste.
CORALLIA – making innovation possible in your town
Start-ups in Greece can nowadays increasingly benefit for the rise of co-working facilities, which provide them with basic infrastructure where they can start off, but, most importantly, offer them direct access to other like-minded professionals, with whom they can exchange ideas on a daily basis. Corallia, the Hellenic Technology Clusters Initiative, is the first such platform to have been established in Greece with a view to helping innovation clusters start and grow.
THE EGG – bringing the start-up mindset to Greece
The egg (enter/grow/go) is a program which helps innovative entrepreneurs start their business, develop their business idea over a period of 12 months and then, hopefully, capitalize on the value of their idea with their own resources or through leveraging other investment funds.