The dream of Europe's Silicon Valley

The dream of Europe’s Silicon Valley

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The Greek government is trying specifically to lure tech companies into the country with tax breaks and well-trained specialists. German IT companies are also discovering Greece as a location.

Athanasios Moutsioulis was certain that he would not find a good job in crisis-ridden Greece. That is why he left the country in 2015, did his Masters in Great Britain and then worked there as a software developer. But a year ago he returned to his hometown Ioannina because he got a job at Teamviewer. The company from Göppingen in Baden-Württemberg has become known for software solutions that make it possible to access devices remotely so that you can work from anywhere.

Lots of potential in skilled workers

When Moutsioulis first heard that Teamviewer wanted to open an office in Ioannina, he could hardly believe it: “That was really a nice surprise,” says Moutsioulis. Even for Philipp Deutscher, the head of the Greek branch, Ioannina as a tech location was not necessarily an obvious choice at first. “But the more we talked to people here, the more we noticed: That makes sense, there is potential here,” says Deutscher. Ioannina is located in northwest Greece, about three hours by car from Thessaloniki. A decisive factor in choosing the location here is the proximity to the four universities in the Ioannina catchment area, says Oliver Steil, CEO of Teamviewer. Because in Germany it is difficult to find programmers. “There is a lot of competition for talent, especially for software developers,” said Steil. But there are many well-trained, motivated and innovative people in Ioannina.

New jobs and digitization as the most important goals

The Greek government is very interested in keeping these people in the country, said Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis in an interview with ARD. “My number one goal is to create jobs and give young Greeks the opportunity to develop a career here in Greece.” In order to achieve this, the country is more dependent than ever on investors from abroad. Because the corona pandemic has hit Greece particularly hard. The national debt has risen to more than 200 percent of the gross domestic product. The unemployment rate is a good 16 per cent.The government is now luring on the one hand with tax breaks for companies. On the other hand, the digital infrastructure is to be expanded significantly. The country also wants to use the funds from the EU’s Corona development fund for this: a total of 30.5 billion euros in grants and loans. The government wants to invest almost a quarter in digitization: For example, the digital transformation of public administration and the expansion of fiber optic networks and 5G technology is to be promoted.

No longer “Greece of the crisis”

Mitsotakis said that public administration processes had already started to be digitized before the pandemic. Now you have the additional financial resources to drive this transformation even further. The Prime Minister’s message: They are no longer a “Greece of crisis”, but rather a Greece that is growing rapidly and is open to foreign investment. In fact, more and more companies are discovering Greece as a location for themselves. For example, Microsoft plans to invest a billion dollars in building three data centers for its cloud computing platform Azure. Teamviewer also wants to expand its location in Ioannina. The company started there with 18 employees – now there are 50. In the medium term, 150 to 200 employees are to be based here. The prerequisite for this, however, is that the development of the infrastructure in Ioannina continues, says site manager Deutscher. The planned tech hub is an important component: a site that is designed entirely according to the needs of companies, especially from the IT sector. According to the government’s plans, it should be ready by the end of next year.

 

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