The Silicon Valley Greek Hub (SVGH) is an initiative formed under the auspices of the Consulate General of Greece in San Francisco, aspiring to connect Silicon Valley investors and funds with Greek start-ups. The official launching of SVGH took place this November 2022 at the University of San Francisco and was attended by Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs for Economic Diplomacy and Openness, Constas Fragkogiannis, Deputy Minister of Development and Investments for Research and Technology, Christos Dimas, and Secretary-General for International Economic Affairs and Openness of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and president of Enterprise Greece, Ioannis Smyrlis. The inaugural event was part of the Greek state officials’ one-week working visit to San Francisco promoting the Greek innovation ecosystem. The government delegation was accompanied by representatives/founders of six Greek start-up companies and members of Elevate Greece, the official platform for information on the Greek start-up ecosystem.
The members Silicon Valley Greek Hub are Bay Area Greeks active in the tech industry in various capacities (corporate executives, startup founders, academic researchers, venture capital experts). SVGH paves the way for creative synergies in entrepreneurship, business, commerce, and technology and its spectrum of activities include online mentoring sessions between the platform's members and Greek entrepreneurs, networking events and online panel discussions with special guest speakers covering trends and topics related to innovation and the tech community. The launching of SVGH Mentoring Sessions was followed by a pitching and networking event for founders of Greek start-up companies, members of Elevate Greece, who traveled to San Francisco with the Greek delegation in order to promote of the Greek innovation ecosystem and to strengthen contacts with prominent Greeks and Diaspora scientists, academics, and entrepreneurs in the US and especially in California's Silicon Valley.
As Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Costas Fragkogiannis writes in his article for newspaper ‘To Vima’, during the 7-day working trip, the startups accompanying the delegation had the opportunity be in Silicon Valley and feel the pulse of the heart of star-tup entrepreneurship: they followed presentations from successful start-uppers who completed the journey from idea, to implementation, to financing to finally becoming Unicorns (i.e. a startup that reaches the valuation of $1 billion), met with Greek companies that excel in Silicon Valley and visited the top universities of Berkeley, Stanford and San Francisco.
Fragkogiannis continues that “our return from San Francisco is for us the beginning of a new cycle of contacts, planning and preparation. The same goes for the businesses that accompanied us. We came back with an agenda full of facts that we will communicate to the Greek government so that new opportunities are created for start-ups – and not only. This pertains also to the second leg of our trip, which was about investigating the intentions of technology companies to invest in our country. The feedback we received was positive.”
Attracting Foreign Direct Investments to Greece
Speaking to newpaper ‘Kathimerini’ after the end of the delegation’s trip to San Francisco, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Costas Fragkogiannis asserted that “the wager and the goal of this particular trip were to conquer Silicon Valley. We presented the modern face of Greece in general, and of the Greek innovation ecosystem in particular, to the Mecca of technology and innovation”. Fragkogiannis specified that while the focus of the trip to San Francisco was the technology sector, the delegation also kept an open agenda, meeting with aerospace companies as well. He identifies three key areas the trip advanced:
- Establishing an institutional framework for the Silicon Valley Greek Hub and connecting it to Greek start-ups
- Connecting the Universities of Berkeley, Stanford, and San Francisco to Greek research and educational institutions.
- Presenting to technology giants such as Apple, Google and Microsoft with the full range of opportunities offered in Greece - following the significant investments they have already made in Greece.
As far the overall performance of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in our country, is concerned, this year and in the future, deputy minister Fragkogiannis stated that the upward trend in FDI over the last three and a half years is impressive: “2021 was a milestone year, as one of the largest increases in FDI was recorded at 72.3%. According to available data, (net) FDI inflows amounted to €4.8 billion, the largest FDI inflow since 2002. For the first half of 2022, (gross) FDI amounted to EUR 4.3 billion, which corresponds to 86% of the 2021 FDI inflows, in total. In the strategic investment part alone, we have approved business plans of over €8.5 billion and there is another €6 billion in the pipeline to be approved. The contribution of these investments to the labor market is estimated at approximately 4,500 jobs.”
In his article for newspaper “Naftemporiki”, Fragkogiannis mentions that “a positive atmosphere prevailed in all 20 meetings we held in San Francisco”, asserting that in the energy sector in particular, Greece is gradually turning into an energy hub for the wider region:
- Regarding natural gas, the Trans Adriatic Pipeline TAP, the Greece-Bulgaria Interconnector IGB, and the planned Greece-Northern Macedonia Interconnector are investments that, due to the Russia-Ukraine war, highlight their strategic importance and value.
- In the field of electricity, our country has forged alliances in the Middle East with countries such as Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates, with which we are promoting agreements on the transmission of electricity generated by renewable energy sources.
Fragkogiannis concludes that “foreign investors see Greece as having the potential to generate significant capital gains over the long term. We are optimistic that this pace will be maintained in 2023, with new investments in energy, life sciences, the development of digital hubs, and the supply chain. We are optimistic that this pace will be maintained in 2023, with new investments in energy, life sciences, the development of digital hubs, and the supply chain. Greece now "means business" in the international community. “