Tuesday, January 26, 2016

The 2015 Zagreb Forum on Smart Cities

On November 24, 2015 I had the chance to be an invited speaker at the international Zagreb Forum, that was held with its main subject being Smart Cities.

The Zagreb Forum is a yearly gathering of government officials, practitioners, industrial representatives and researchers around a governance topic.  This year, the overarching issue was "Co-Creation of Creative City by Citizens". 

I had the pleasure to listen to several interesting presentations from Smart (or to-be-smart) Cities from all over Europe.  One should note the presentations from Amsterdam, Barcelona, Ljubljana and Vienna, among many others. 

I presented the SMART-MED approach, a method for developing smart city / smart islands solutions through enabling entrepreneurship in local societies.  The SMART-MED approach is already a proposal by a consortium comprising islands and municipalities from Greece, Cyprus, Slovenia, Croatia and Italy.

More information on the Zagreb 2015 Forum can be found at: http://zagrebforum.eu/en/

My presentation on Smart Islands is at: http://www.slideshare.net/charalabidis/smart-cities-and-smart-islands-in-the-mediterranean-the-smartmed-approch 

Addressing Zagreb Forum, on Smart Islands 

With other speakers of the panel, at Zagreb Forum

With Blaz Golob, one of Zagreb Forum organisers, at the reception / Zagreb Palace

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Speaking on entrepreneurship in Papagou High School

Since September 2015, the 1st Lyceum of Papagou invited me for a talk on entrepreneurship, towards 2nd and 3rd grade students (that is 17 and 18 years of age).  It was only on November 2015 that I managed to spend some time with them.

Grouped in two teams, with more than 100 persons in each, it was an audience rather difficult to motivate.  We needed more than 20 minutes of ice-braking dicsussion and teasing to get in shape for the main menu: an one-hour talk on the "Facts and Myths of Entrepreneurship", my newest composition of knowledge, experience and issues for discussion.

What I learned or remembered in these 2 X 2 = 4 hours ?

- High school students are always ready to give credit or interest to non-standard presenters
- How anxious last-graders are with their university exams.
- How enjoyable it is to be next to young(er than university) students. At least, for four hours every now ant then ..

I would gladly come back !

With the 2nd grade

With the 3rd grade

Monday, January 18, 2016

The Aegean Startups Finals

In early October 2015 we organised the final day of Aegean Startups entrepreneurship competition. It was the culmination of more than 8 months of selecting and mentoring teams of students and young to-be entrepreneurs.  

More than 60 ideas were submitted in the first round, in the 4 categories of the competition: tourism and culture, agriculture and traditional food products, transportation and commerce, ICT and governance. Approximately half of them made it in the second round, having then to submit more elaborate business plans with the help of external mentors.  Each proposal was evaluated by 3 business mentors and 10 of them were given prizes and awards at the finals.

The day was combined with visits and workshops to OrangeGrove, Google Greece and Intrasoft International on the day before, giving the opportunity to team members to present and discuss their ideas with other startup-ers and business angels.

At the Orange Grove, with teams of students

At Google Greece premises in Athens

The final "ceremony" was attended by more than 100 people from business and academia, acting as a lively audience to student teams.  Awards ranged from money prizes, computers and tablets, to positions in late-stage incubators like Microsoft Innovation Centre, Orange Grove, TheAthensIncubator, etc.

The winner teams with their awards 

A nice top-up for the finals organisation was the appearance in Greek Public Television morning zone in the day after, discussing live with students on their ideas and their plans for the future.

Aegean Startups in ERT television

A nice wrap-up video of the whole experience of the two days can be seen below (video recording and editing by Orestis Zacharogiannis)

Smart Cities and Local Development - training in Samos and Rhodes

In September and October 2015 I had the chance to meet with local administration officials, young entrepreneurs and students, during one-day specialised training sessions on "Smart Cities and Local Development with the participation of Administration, Industry and Academia", held in Samos and Rhodes.

These training workshops attracted audience from local communities and were a good platform to work on a few innovative ideas for public-private partnership development - which later led to the SMART-MED project idea on developing smart-city solutions via entrepreneurship and not procurement.

With my audience in Samos
Together with colleagues from the University of the Aegean, we talked and discussed on cases for smart cities, e-government solutions in local administration, joint programmes between municipalities and enterprises, funding opportunities and the sort.

Being in Samos every week, the visit to Rhodes was the new thing: a splendid as always old town, but also a vibrant community of  hotel owners and touristic businesses laid the landscape for a two-day intensive course of training sessions and meetings.

The class in Rhodes

I promised I will certainly be revisiting the case of tourism-oriented entrepreneurship with local Union of Hotel owners - something that now materialised in the INNOVECO project idea for demand-based entrepreneurship and successfully presented at the Berkeley Global Venture Lab, in San Francisco, on January 2016.

A summary of my talk on smart cities can always be found at:  http://www.slideshare.net/charalabidis/smart-cities-47555056 

InHeritage Entrepreneurship workshop in Lavrion

In late September 2015, I had the chance to take part in an entrepreneurship workshop oriented towards young professionals form the domain of cultural management.  The inHeritage 3-day event targeted the development of new business ideas to take advantage of industrial heritage sites and facilities (e.g. industrial museums, old factories, traditional industrial sites and so on).

The event was happening in parallel in three locations, connected via teleconferencing: the Lavrion Industrial Park where I physically was, the  Athens Industrial Gas Museum and the Museum of Industrial Olive-Oil Production of Lesvos.

View of the old factory at Lavrion
Two things were really unforgettable from my visit:

1. The impressive Lavrion Industrial Park, reminding us the once vibrant "Compagnie Francaise des Mines du Laurium" a revolutionary lead-extracting factory established at around 1880 and operating for about 80 years.  The whole investment, which was significant for Greece at that times, provided the landscape for the first large stock-scandal that shook the country, known as "lavreotika".  A very good description of the "deal" and the forces that powered and lead it can be seen (in Greek) at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hNluMeJjTwI 

2. The gathering of young professionals (mainly architects and engineers), aiming at developing new, innovative business ideas for the exploiting of our industrial heritage.  In a world of cloud and mobile apps, working with real production sites of the past shows great interest for us - teaching and practicing entrepreneurship at the digital age.

With the team of young entrepreneurs and mentors in Lavrion inHeritage workshop

More about the InHeritage programme can be seen at: http://events.innovathens.gr/inheritage/