Growth Awards 2016”, an event celebrating the outstanding achievements of Greek businesses and saluting the people and companies that have demonstrated unique vision, innovation and achievement, was recently organized by Eurobank and Grand Thornton. Around 8000 businesses contended for the awards, and a total of 20 companies were awarded in several categories for their particular contribution to excellence in a field.

Among the contestants were three Greek companies that stood out for the quality of their R&D personnel*: Olympia-Electronics (Electrical & Electronics manufacturer), Isomat (building chemicals and mortars) and Septona (cotton products). Their Research & Development units develop innovative and compelling products, taking into consideration the latest technological developments. Within these companies, creative work is undertaken on a systematic basis in order to increase the stock of knowledge and the use of this knowledge to devise new applications and products.

Olympia-Electronics – Successful & innovative business activities

Founded in 1979, Olympia-Electronics is one of the oldest and largest Electrical & Electronics manufacturers in Greece, and since 1981, it has been manufacturing emergency lighting. The company is active in developing innovative electronic safety and security systems by using state of the art technology. Its human resources are 174 employees, of whom 10% are in R&D. Olympia Electronics is the dominant Greek enterprise in the electronics safety and security industry, and its products are exported to 72 countries worldwide. Between 1999 and 2004, the company was awarded by several institutions for its successful & innovative business activities.

In February 2005, the company gained the EFQM (European Foundation Quality for Management) recognition. Olympia Electronics produce high quality, state of the art and innovative products at a competitive price level, is an ‘’Easy To Do Business With’’ company with customer-centric orientation. OLYMPIA ELECTRONICS in order to be a world player, adopted the strategy of “Global Producer” and launched a programme transforming it to a “World Class Manufacturing” company.

Septona – High-quality products using innovative technologies

Septona is a 100% Greek family owned company. Founded in 1973, and primarily concentrating on the production of cotton buds, Septona rapidly expanded into other categories such as cotton pads, pharmaceutical cotton wool, cotton balls, baby wipes, cosmetic wipes, refreshing wipes, incontinence products, feminine hygiene products, strips, baby shampoo & bath products, baby moisturizers, healthy snacks etc. Septona represents today one of the biggest manufacturers of personal hygiene products, both in Greece and worldwide, exporting to over 60 countries through 4 logistics centres in Europe. Exports account for 65% of its total turnover, but most importantly, its products are exported to highly competitive markets like the UK, France, Austria, Switzerland and Arab countries. Moreover, the firm also exports to the USA, South America, Russia, China, Australia, as well as Zimbabwe and more.

SEPTONA employs 320 people and owns four highly modern manufacturing plants in the EU [in Bulgaria and Greece] that feature a vertical production process of all its cotton products. By continuously investing in new technologies for providing high quality cotton products, SEPTONA has become synonymous to purity and softness in everyday personal hygiene.

Septona focuses on modern technology, its human resources and the high quality of its products to drive growth. In this respect, continuous investment in consumer market research has led to strong consumer innovation. Despite the economic crisis, the company holds a strong position in Greece through continuous investment in advertising and development of value-added, differentiated products. Consumer growing preference for the Septona brand is a vote of confidence to a Greek company that actively supports family budgets with excellent quality and best value products. In recent years, more than 23 million euros were invested in modern production processes, research and new product development. To ensure the highest quality production standards, Septona possesses quality certifications by international auditing organizations. Septona was awarded the “Ruban d’Honneur” title at the 2013/14 European Business Awards and has received several awards.

ISOMAT – Emphasis on R&D

ISOMAT is a production company of building chemicals and mortars, with a multinational presence. Founded in 1980, it constitutes one of the most important manufacturers of its sector in Southeastern Europe. The company produces and distributes over 350 products of advanced German technology with affordable prices. More specifically, it produces and distributes products of the following 6 categories: Waterproofing MaterialsPaints & RendersTile Adhesives & GroutsRepairing MaterialsConcrete & Mortar Admixtures, and Floorings.

In 2012, the company made a multi-million investment for the creation of a production unit of polyurethane-based materials. All products are developed in the company’s own Research and Development laboratories, with a goal to achieving the best quality at the best possible price. Every year, the Research and Development department works on a series of new products, on the basis of the needs of each target-market, as well as the technological developments in the industry. ISOMAT exports its products to over 40 countries worldwide and owns 6 subsidiaries in Romania, Serbia, Bulgaria, Turkey, Russia, Slovenia and one affiliate in Spain. The subsidiaries in Serbia and Romania also have production units, in Belgrade and Bucharest respectively.


Today, ISOMAT employs over 350 employees in Greece and abroad. ISOMAT is committed to offering products of excellent quality in combination with high added-value services in order to achieve total customer satisfaction. The company possesses ultra-modernly equipped R&D laboratories, with chemical laboratories for developing innovative products made of concrete additives and special mortars, tile adhesives and grouts, and polymers. The scientific team of the R&D Department researches and develops every year a number of innovative products while continuously improving the existing ones, according to technological progress and the modern requirements of the construction sector.

ISOMAT is vigilant in protecting the environment in all its activities. Administration is committed to operating in a way that ensures high environmental performance, taking into account the optimal economic and technical choices, the national and Community environmental legislation, as well as any related regulations. The company is fully committed to observing the safety standards and ensuring optimal working conditions.

More than numbers: R&D units in the private sector

In Greece, major austerity cuts in recent years had consequences also for R&D. On the one hand, wage cuts caused a lack of demand and led to the decrease of the number of businesses. Poor work and pay conditions for scientists and researchers lead to a further challenge: the brain drain. The country keeps losing increasing numbers of their best and brightest students to top universities and careers outside the country. 

On the other hand, R&D spending in Greece has been growing steadily in recent years, both in absolute terms and as expressed in GDP. According to official provisional figures provided by the National Documentation Centre, Greece spent a record amount on research and development as a percentage of its economy in 2015, reaching the historic high of 0.96 pct of its GDP. Spending on R&D came to 1.64 billion euro in 2015, up from 1.49 billion euro in 2014 and 1.39 billion in 2011. Among the contributors to R&D expenditures are the higher education sector, the business and the government sector.

Greek research prides itself on a high standard of quality and shows considerable achievement. The country is well placed in terms of scientific production, as Greece boasts a rich production of Doctorates (PhD) that are a highly competitive asset for the Greek economy, according to the recent Report on Careers and Mobility of Doctorate Holders in Greece.

*As is also noted in a special feature on the Business section of the Athens Sunday paper “Vima tis Kiriakis” (31.12.2016)

Read more: Historic high in research spending; Doctorate holders in Greece: Highly competitive, highly mobile