What would it take for Athens, in Greece to be an innovation economy?
Here’s some 2thinknow thoughts from our Executive Director, Christopher Hire, in a newspaper interview with Greek daily newspaper, To Vima.
From leading Greek daily newspaper, To Vima.
This PDF version — gives a better impression of concept.
The article was quite popular and a hit on the Greek government’s Facebook page. From reporter, Achilles Hekimoglou:
I must inform you that the newly elected mayor of Athens – and former Ombudsman – professor, Yorgos Kaminis, posted the article in his facebook profile and there were many who wrote positive comments.
This article is in Greek (something Google Translate does not handle very well). Below is an English transcription of my full comment, made as at 1st November, 2010:
Cities like Athens are historically strong, but it is this strength that is sometimes a weakness. Previous strengths such as arts, culture and food are leveraged through tourism. However, an over reliance on public service and financial wizardry hasn’t served Greece and Athens well. But Athens still has an enviable climate and cultural lifestyle – in some ways more livable than cold cities like Zurich, which often score well on quality of living.
As consulting innovation analysts, 2thinknow view innovation as a multiple sectors of the urban economy. We publish the Innovation Cities Index — an annual index of cities, in which Athens was classified in 2010 as a ‘Node’. A Node city is globally connected and globally competitive — alongside flying-distance cities such as Oporto, Istanbul, Florence and Liverpool. So to be a node is an achievement.
However, 2thinknow believes Athens has the potential to be a hub city, or even a European nexus city like Paris, Amsterdam, Barcelona, or Milan. These cities are top-tier nexus cities. 2thinknow measure cities innovation using 162 city indicators across 31 industry and community segments, as well as a zeitgeist factor. A full list of cities can be found at www.innovation-cities.com
Athens already has great Cultural Assets and an enviable food and climate. Athens business community could concentrate on attracting new start-up business, as well as lobbying for simplified regulation of business. Changed retail regulations, and simplified legal system, enforcement of laws towards a reduction in cash payments and a greater environmental focus could all assist.
More broadly though Athens needs to decide what sectors of the global economy – such as fashion or food supply it can offer to the region and the world, moving away from polluting industries in Greece, to other industries. Athens needs further tertiary development in business education as well as working on further broadband penetration. There are new business models evolving, as alternatives to the models of the twentieth century, so Athens has a chance (along with Greece) to be involved in creating new business models and new corporations.
These are just a start, and it’s part of the Greek diaspora that can bring innovation back to Greece –Greeks have contributed to the improved food of cities like Melbourne. Food – at all levels – is a global business, and Greeks might find a younger business and technology savvy generation might give Athens the desired leadership, provided they are not frustrated by business and legislative roadblocks.
In 2thinknow’s view the opportunity of a decentralised internet connected world, potentially favours Athens, and Greece as a high quality cultural destination – if the opportunity is seized by Greeks.
More resources on innovation cities, including Innovation Cities Analysis Report and data on Athens and other cities available to order from http://www.innovation-cities.com
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