It was held on Tuesday 24th the May Smart Talk with Georgios Georgiadis, Member of the Board of Directors of TechIsland and Founder & Managing Director of Excelix. The event focused on “Innovation and Transformation. A Sustainable Process for Business Growth”. After the introductory greetings by the President of the Italian-Cypriot Chamber of Commerce Giuseppe Marino, the discussion was moderated by Federico Franchina, Vice President of the Chamber.
Firstly, Mr Georgiadis gave the audience a general overview of Cyprus’s framework regarding its digital transformation and some information about the eco-system. In this regard, he highlighted how the government of Cyprus has positioned this sector high on its agenda. In fact, the digital transformation of Cyprus and setting the foundations for attracting foreign tech businesses to the country is a government’s priority. The aim of attracting FDI (Foreign Direct Investments) is to enhance the competitiveness of local businesses.
Cyprus Digital Policy Framework
The establishment of the Deputy Ministry of Research, Innovation and Digital Policy and the establishment of a Chief Scientist is leading to the Digital Transformation and the promotion of research and innovation between enterprises and Academia.
Furthermore, back in October last year, the Government announced a number of incentives for attracting tech companies and professionals. These policies envisage a 50% tax discount for tech professionals earning more than Euro 55.000 annually. Moreover, a new naturalization framework allows tech professionals to apply for a passport after 4 years in Cyprus. Additionally, access to the labour market of the spouses of 3rd country nationals, and the introduction of the digital nomad visa. All of the above is aiming to promote Cyprus as a world-class destination for tech companies and professionals. In this way, eventually, Cyprus will become the tech island of the Mediterranean.
The Role of TechIsland
After that, Mr Georgiadis explained what is the role and main goals of TechIsland, which was established one year ago to act as a unified voice to speak to the government. Certainly, one of its main goals is to create synergies among tech companies, involving people from different communities, sectors, and countries. Moreover, its mission is to promote the interests of the IT industry in Cyprus, improving Cyprus’s reputation as the ideal destination for tech companies and startups.
Besides, as technology is a horizontal pillar of the economy integrated with all vertical sectors, TechIsland is not more involved in a specific sector. For example, agriculture is becoming agri-tech, and the energy sector has a strong component of high-tech with sensors for photovoltaics. As well are shipping, financial services, and services in general. Correspondingly, TechIsland’s approach is horizontal, as every sector is becoming more digital it can also be more attractive.
Sustainable Growth for Companies
Then the Smart Talk highlight how the financial services and professional services are considered the dominant sectors of Cyprus’s economy. Therefore, fintech companies have great opportunities to develop, collaborate and create strategic partnerships with well-renowned financial firms. Furthermore, it was seen recent development such as the introduction of a VC fund backed by the European Investing Fund, the Cyprus Equity Fund, will invest in innovative companies established in Cyprus. This is a big opportunity for Cyprus to further develop the ecosystem in the near future.
Finally, Mr Georgiades explained how TechIsland is supporting the SME sector, which is a driving force for the nation island’s economy, to their transition and sustainable development.
TechIsland is preparing the Startup Ecosystem Mapping, which is actually the first initiative towards monitoring the startup ecosystem in Cyprus, and through this study, the aim is to propose ways of developing.
Effective Actions of TechIsland
In a practical way, firstly all through its network, TechIsland promotes collaboration between its members. The effective initiatives regard targeted networking events, as it happened in Italy on 29th September 2021, for the 4th Cypriot-Italian Business Forum organized by the Italian-Cypriot Chamber of Commerce, which saw the participation of TechIsland. Secondly, it is important to organize missions abroad. In this way, the Deputy Ministry of Innovation, Research and Digital Policy recently visited Estonia, a great role model for Cyprus for its market size, and signed a Memorandum of Understanding. Cyprus is a small country with very little experience and can gain a lot through signing MoUs with other more experienced countries. The government is acting in the right way, and the next step is to translate the MoUs into very practical actions. Thirdly, and most importantly, significant action is to fund startups.
The Importance of Innovation
The Smart Talk ended by underling how important innovation is. It can surely be the key to socio-economic prosperity. Moreover, innovation has democratised access to resources and services, improving quality of life. Cyprus is a small market, therefore should not compete on mass, but rather focus on niche sectors, develop innovative products and services and scale outside the country. Hence, Cyprus will be able to attract foreign companies that can utilize the market as a sandbox for the next technologies. Indeed, Italy can be the natural way to scale out the market. In order to attract FDI and enhance its competitiveness in the IT sector, Cyprus needs to Cyprus must focus on its strengths, which are Human capital, geographical position and high level of academic research and professional services. Perfectly positioned in the middle of 3 continents, Cyprus can be Europe’s bridge to the Middle East and North Africa.
In collaboration with the Italian-Cypriot Chamber of Commerce, TechIsland can involve some important Italian groups in activities in Cyprus. This would enhance awareness regarding the innovation sector and the organization of mutual events in Italy or Cyprus. Furthermore, TechIsland can support tech or innovative companies from Italy willing to relocate to Cyprus. Viceversa, Cypriot member companies can expand and explore opportunities in a new market by establishing offices in Italy. Last but not least, it is important to use the newsletter tool of the two Organizations to provide information for funding or other opportunities.
During the conclusions, Vice President Costas Katsaros reiterates the Chamber’s commitment to enhancing, together with TechIsland, the dialogue on the opportunities in the IT sector, as it represents 20% of Cyprus’s GDP.
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Last modified: May 26, 2022