Following the commitment made by the French President, François Hollande, during his official visit to Athens on October 2015, to strengthen economic ties between France and Greece, the Athens Business Forum 2016 (Forum Franco-hellénique des Affaires et de l’Innovation), launched November 24th – 25th 2016, examined prospects for cooperation in the field of energy and innovation.

The Athens Business Forum is a Franco-Hellenic initiative of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry France – Greece and the French Embassy in Athens together with the Institut Français in Greece that is dedicated to furthering bilateral cooperation in investments, trade and innovation.  The Forum featured two conferences:  The Energy & Environment Investment Forum, focusing on the technological resources and investment potential of public and private actors in France and Greece, and the Franco-Hellenic Innovation Forum, highlighting the French and Greek innovation ecosystems and developing creative cooperation.

The Forum provided the occasion for Greek and French businessmen to meet with potential partners, to arrange business meetings in search of future possibilities for cooperation and to profit from business match-making services, exploring the two promising areas for cooperation between Greece and France, of energy and innovation.

The objective of the Forum is the strengthening of commercial relations between France and Greece in strategic sectors where both countries can develop opportunities, as well as areas where Greece and France share common interests. 

Supporting beneficial encounters and projects in Greece

H.E. the French Ambassador in Greece, Christophe Chantepy opening the Forum noted: “The bilateral relations between France and Greece are rooted in a rich shared history. But they also share a dynamic which opens the portals of the future. We can enrich them and strengthen them further, through initiatives that create solidarity, that inspire, and that provide a framework for working together… Our aim is not the establishment of another innovation incubator or a place for ‘startups’ as those already operating in Athens but the creation of a bridge for the further enhancement of the Greek-French relations in the area of innovation, a platform that will connect the two countries innovation sector, a meeting and connection place”.

In an interview with Greek newspaper “Imerisia” earlier in November, the ambassador mentioned that «This is the right time to come or to return to Greece» adding that «Development perspectives have exceeded expectations».

Addressing the forum, the Minister of Environment and Energy, Giorgos Stathakis, underlined that similar initiatives constitute a decisive step towards the materialization of the roadmap adopted by the two countries, last June, at the highest level.

The new Minister of Economy and Development, Dimitris Papadimitriou, underlined: «In our effort to implement reforms, we are based on the friendship and the Greek-French cooperation and I am persuaded that there are great possibilities for business cooperation and occasions for French companies to invest in our country».

Alternate Minister Costas Fotakis addressed the innovation forum outlining the basic points of the ministry’s policy and the initiatives already taken by the government to bolster research and to stem the brain drain witnessed during the crisis.Fotakis underlined the objectives of the newly created Greek Foundation of Research and Innovation (ELIDEK), the activities of which are expected to support over the next three years 4,000, mainly young, scientists, with attractive conditions, for the conduct of research.The minister also outlined the government’s development plan to capitalize on the results of research, with the aim of creating wealth. This plan will fund start-up businesses, nascent businesses, and businesses in the growth stage.The implementation of this plan is expected to begin immediately, thus creating a comprehensive approach that contributes to supporting society and the country’s development efforts.

On the occasion of the Athens Business Forum, the economic daily Les Echos stressed that the Greek economy is stabilizing and French companies are “regaining appetite” for the Greek market. 

Read more: Hellenic Foundation for Research and Innovation to Strengthen Research across GreeceInnovation Clusters: Greece-France Cooperation Reaches Space

Forum Franco hellénique