By | News

Great interest in medical services with the use of artificial intelligence technologies, block chain and the Internet of Things.

Health services, transport and urban travel, transaction security, are some of the services developed by innovative companies in Thessaloniki are at the heart of new technologies and are already expanding successfully outside Greece.

Eight innovative businesses in Thessaloniki were presented by their creators at an event organized by the Alexander Innovation Zone (AIZ) in the framework of the 83rd Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF) and the strong presence of start-ups at the Digital Greece Pavilion.

The delivery of the presentation and discussion to the entrepreneurs and the audience was coordinated by the president of AIZ, Dr. Pantelis Angelidis, pointing out that a lot of important work is being done by innovative companies in Thessaloniki, which the public is now beginning to get to know despite already using products and services of some of these companies.

Mr. Thomas Hatzistergiou has spoken about the already well-known Booking Clinic, a platform that brings users of medical services close to clinics, diagnostic centers and is very close to the philosophy of medical tourism, mentioning that 17 clinics, 4 in Romania, 1 in Croatia have contracted with Booking Clinic, while contacts are ongoing with India as well.

Vassilis Keramaris, founder of the iQ Taxi company, has spoken about a B2B company that is ‘‘the only hope for taxi cooperatives to survive against taxibeat services’’. IQTaxi serves taxi cooperatives in Greece as well as in the US, Bulgaria and Saudi Arabia, and is profitable even though it is only in its third year of operation.

Mrs. Iphigenia Paparoussi explained that Leaders Lab, making use of e-learning, specializes in the development of leadership skills and is designed to help with the development of businesses.

Mr. Kostas Votis presented Mind Med, a platform for self-management of chronic diseases, that started with asthma and continues with diabetes making use of artificial intelligence technologies, Block Chain, for data security as well as IOT (Internet of Things) since the user of the service uses wearables as well.

StοneWave was presented by Mr. George Chatzopoulos. The company produces horizontal software, has designed the technological part in 17 start-ups, and through these collaborations, in which it operates as a CTO (Chief Technology Officer), is in some cases a shareholder.

Blockachain, as Mrs. Maria Matthaiou said, is a company that specialises in data analytics and transaction security. Blockachain is a joint venture of ATC, a software company, and Vidavo, a telemedicine company.

Miss Anna Chlioura has said that the already known company in Thessaloniki, EleKtronio, which manufactures electric three-wheeled bicycles, is preparing to expand its product range through outsourcing.

Finally, Mrs. Mara Tsoumari said that SentiGeek combines hybrid technologies that allow the analysis of a text in depth to draw on the personality of the person who wrote it.


Do you have a business idea on Circular Economy?

By | News

Bring your idea to the Competition organized by Alexander Innovation Zone, in the context of the ECOCITY FORUM 2018 International Conference, that takes place on October 3-5, at the Thessaloniki Concert Hall.


Please, fill in the application form until September 28, 2018 and you can claim a place among the winners!

The top 5 ideas that will be evaluated by the Competition Evaluation Committee, will be presented at an open event on Friday, October 5, 2018 while winners’ awards will take place during the closing ceremony of the Conference on the afternoon of the same day.

Grand prize for the winner: Participation (incl. travel and accommodation expenses) in a Conference, depending on the subject of interest + free fast track acceleration 3month program offered byOK!Thess.

Prize for the second and third winner: Free fast track acceleration 3month program offered by OK!Thess.

Information to fill in the application:

  • Be brief and inclusive.
  • It’s not mandatory to answer all the fields. Though for the evaluation of your idea the committee needs to have enough info to form a clear picture of your idea.
  • Alexander Innovation Zone will use the application form and personal data exclusively for the evaluation of your idea.


Greece finances innovation with 4 programmes

By | News

The amount of 300 million euros is currently available to businesses in Greece as a form of direct support for the implementation of innovative investment plans for growth and modernization or to boost their export activity. These aids come from NSRF (National Strategic Reference Framework) resources and in particular through the Operational Programme Competitiveness, Entrepreneurship and Innovation (EPAnEK), managed by the Ministry of Economy and Development. The ‘‘emblematic’’ programmes of EPAnEK that are currently in progress, are the ‘‘twin’’ actions ‘‘Digital Step’’ and ‘‘Digital Leap’’, ‘‘Quality Modernization’’ and ‘‘We Do Business Outside’’.

The first and third programmes are focused on micro, small and medium-sized enterprises, while the second concerns only medium-sized enterprises,in accordance with the definition of community. That is, enterprises that employ from 50 and in each case fewer than 250 employees and the annual turnover does not exceed € 50 million or the total annual balance sheet does not exceed € 43 million.

The ‘‘twin’’ actions

The “Digital Step” and the “Digital Leap” actions,with a total public spending of € 100 million (from € 50 million each), have been designed to boost the beneficiary businesses either to make their first digital steps or be upgraded even more.

The percentage of the subsidy is set at 50% of the investment plan which will be submitted and the interested parties will be able to acquire new equipment, software and Information and Communications Technology (ICT). The amount of the grant may be up to 200,000 euros.Micro, small and medium-sized enterprises that have completed at least two full accounting periods and keep B and C category accounting books until 31.12.2017 are entitled to participate in the actions. The closing date for applications is October 2 2018. It is to be noted that the expiration day of the initial deadline was September 17, but a slight extension was given.

‘‘The Digital Step’’ refers to digitally immature businesses (low or middle digital rank), which can submit an investment budget plan of between € 5,000 and € 50,000.

The ‘‘Digital Leap’’ refers to digitally mature businesses respectively (higher or highest digital rank), which will be able to submit an investment budget plan of between € 55,000 and € 400,000.


Subsidized expenditure

Under the two actions, the following costs are subsidized:

  1. Supply, transport, installation and operation of new machinery and other ICT equipment necessary for the operation of the business and the security of the provided services.
  2. Software supply and parameterization.
  3. Online shop necessarily with features:

-At least two languages

-Μobile responsive

-Ordering, storage and electronic payments software

  1. Services related to:
  • hospitality (hosting, collocation)
  • internet connection
  • digital advertising (google ads, facebook ads)
  • development of digital advertising material
  • development and / or certification of digital security policy,
  • data transfer or software parameterization
  1. Employee cost (new staff).



Quality modernization

The said programme concerns the boosting of existing medium-sized enterprises, and as a matter of priority, those active in the nine strategic areas of EPAnEK in order for them to upgrade and improve their competitive position in the internal and external market by investing in their modernization and quality upgrading.

With a budget (public spending) of 150 million euros and a subsidy rate of 50%, the programme subsidizes investment plans ranging from 50,000 to 400,000 euros, including the acquisition of new modern machines and equipment in general, necessary for the operation of the enterprise and the pursuing of its economic activity, the introduction of quality management systems, the designing, the standardization and certification of products.

Additionally,costs of transport procurement, consultancy services for the monitoring of the investment plan as well as full wage costs for newly recruited staff are being boosted.

The submission of applications has begun since June 27 and will remain open until the available budget is exhausted and 18 months after the initial publication of the call at the latest.


Eligible areas of activity

As already mentioned,the submitted investment plans concern – as a matter of priority – the following strategic areas of the Operational Programme ‘‘Competitiveness, Entrepreneurship and Innovation’’ (EPAnEK):

  • Agri-Food / Food Industry
  • Energy
  • Supply chain
  • Cultural and creative industries (CCIs)
  • Environment
  • Tourism
  • Information and Communications Technology (ICT)
  • Health
  • Materials – Constructions.

It is noted that companies with even one of the following ineligible NACE (Activity Code Number) are excluded from the action:

  1. Plant and animal production, hunting and relevant activities
  2. Forestry and logging
  3. Fishery and aquaculture

It is underlined that investment projects with a budget of less than € 50,000 are considered ineligible and cannot be submitted. If the investment plan has a budget of more than € 400,000, the excess amount will be considered a 100% private contribution to the project.

In this case, although the excess costs are not subsidized, the subject of evaluation and monitoring – control is the entire investment plan including the extra cost. In any case, the deadline for the completion of the funded investments may not exceed 24 months from the date the decision of inclusion has been adopted.

The categories of eligible programme costs are briefly as follows:

  1. Machinery – Equipment
  2. Quality Management System Certification,
  3. Design, standardization and product certification
  4. Transport
  5. Drafting and monitoring of the investment plan
  6. Employee cost (new staff) supported by the ECB (European Central Bank) (use of a flexibility clause).




We Do Business Outside

With a budget of € 50 million, the “We Do Business Outside” programme aims at boosting small and medium-sized businesses, so they can participate in international trade fairs. In particular, through the “We Do Business Outside” programme, small exporters will be able to take up to € 50,000 in total within 30 months to strengthen their extraversion.

Micro, small and medium-sized enterprises, which have completed at least one accounting period of 12 months before the date of the electronic submission of the application for funding, have eligible Activity Code Numbers

(NACE) for products they wish to promote through their participation in trade fairs, they already produce / process these products, are already engaged in export activity and at least 2% of the annual turnover comes from exports of products they produce / process.

Applications may be submitted until June 2018, unless the available budget is exhausted.





Terms and conditions

Every business can apply for funding up to € 100,000.

The budget per trade fair amounts to the following figures:

  • up to 20,000 euros per fair in the case of participation with a booth of up to 20 square metres, with a maximum public grant of 10,000 euros
  • up to € 35,000 per fair in the case of participation with a booth of up to 50 square metres, with a maximum public grant of € 17,500
  • up to € 50,000 per fair in the case of participation with a booth of more than 50 square metres, with a maximum public grant of 25,000 euros.


What is funded

The eligible costs under the programme are as follows:

  • Cost of participation and registration costs in the Fair catalog
  • Travel and accommodation costs for up to 4 representatives of the company participating in each trade fair, such as air tickets and individual transportation to and from the trade fair area
  • Accommodation in the country where the fair takes place.
  • Stand rent, construction / modulation costs and equipment rental (e.g. audiovisual equipment).
  • Cost of sending and returning exhibits, including the cost of insuring them
  • Remuneration of specialized external partners necessary for the management / operation of the stand (e.g. interpreter, stand guard, etc.)
  • Cost of leaflet design and translation

Expenditure is eligible from the date on which the application for funding is submitted electronically for up to 30 months from the date of the decision to put the investment projects into action.






By | News

Lufthansa’s General Sales Manager in Greece and Cyprus speaks to about Thessaloniki as a destination and the plans of the company.

With increased expectations for the success of the Thessaloniki-Frankfurt flight, the German airline, Lufthansa, returns to the city this October following an absence of 17 years. Speaking to, Lufthansa’s General Sales Manager in Greece and Cyprus, Konstantinos Tzevelekos stresses that in recent years Thessaloniki has taken its place on the map as an important tourist destination for the whole year. At the same time, he estimates that the continuing investments in both the port and the airport will show the geostrategic importance of its location and this will have a direct positive impact on attracting businesses and hence on the demand for business trips.

According to Mr. Tzevelekos, Lufthansa is considering the possibility of direct connection between Thessaloniki and Munich, while discussions on the inclusion of new destinations on the routes of the Lufthansa’s Group airlines, Austrian Airlines and Eurowings from Makedonia airport are in progress.


The interview of Lufthansa’s General Sales Manager in Greece and Cyprus, Konstantinos Tzevelekos, at


  • The business community as well as the municipality of Thessaloniki have been calling in recent years for Lufthansa to restore the Frankfurt-Thessaloniki flight. Why did the company leave Thessaloniki in 2001 and what is it that changed and led the company to the decision to return to the city?


The decision of the Lufthansa Group to reestablish the Thessaloniki-Frankfurt route was based both on Northern Greece’s travel market and on the tourist perspective of the city. In recent years, Thessaloniki has taken its place on the map as an important tourist destination for the whole year. Its special features, capabilities and culture are being utilized more effectively today and the city has regained the momentum of attracting even more tourists, tourist investments and businesses. Indicative factors of this growth are the increase in the number of overnight stays in hotels as well as the expansion of business relations with Germany.

Lufthansa had been present in Thessaloniki for many years. It left in 2001, a year when air transport suffered a major blow after the events of the twin towers in New York and the forced adaptation of the flight network. At the same time, the signs of falling demand and purchasing power in the region were intense resulting in this air link being unsustainable.


  • What are the company’s goals and expectations for this flight since it is part of the winter programme, which is less of a tourist interest?


I am optimistic about the movement and completeness of the positions during the winter season. Thessaloniki can also attract German tourists in the winter, as it is an excellent suggestion for short excursions – since there are areas of natural, historical, archaeological and cultural interest in a very short distance – as well as a city break destination. Let us not forget that it is the largest urban centre of Northern Greece. It is a vibrant city all day long, it has its own special ‘‘colour’’, and has become widely known for its gastronomy and quality entertainment options.

In addition, we believe that the continuing investments in both the port and the airport will show the geostrategic importance of its location and this will have a direct positive impact on attracting businesses and hence on the demand for business trips.


  • At a recent meeting organized by the Greek-German Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Thessaloniki, the Lufthansa Group’s Flight Management Team reported that the possibility of linking with Munich is explored. How mature is this plan?


Greece is a key market for the Lufthansa Group. Our interest remains firmly focused on the domestic developments and competition in the country’s aviation market. In this context, the discussion of additional Lufthansa Group investments in our country is ongoing. The possibility of direct connection between Thessaloniki and Munich has not been rejected, but for our part there is no specific information about the timing of the implementation of the plan.


– What is the presence of the Lufthansa Group in Thessaloniki? Is there a plan for linking Makedonia airport to new destinations?

Two more airlines of the Lufthansa Group, Austian Airlines and Eurowings, will offer flights this winter from Thessaloniki to popular destinations in Germany and Austria. Eurowings – the low-cost and high-quality Lufthansa’s subsidiary – will connect Thessaloniki with Cologne-Bonn, Düsseldorf, Hamburg and Stuttgart, while Austrian Airlines will offer direct flights to Vienna.

Discussions on new destinations are in progress, but there is no decision that we can announce at this time.


– How does the growing presence of low-cost airlines but also companies outside Europe affect the firm and the airline map of Europe?

The presence of low-cost airlines as well as companies outside Europe clearly causes increased competition in our industry. Increasing competition in its turn leads airlines to seek ways to improve the competitiveness of their aviation product. New destinations, more routes, frequent flyer rewards, offers, specialised services and in-flight entertainment are the main features that airlines are focusing on to distinguish themselves in the competition arena.

The frequency of routes, the easy and fast airport transfers, the state-of-the-art modern aircrafts, the cabin spaces, the lounges, the in-flight services, the attractive frequent flyer programmes – as much for those travelling for personal reasons or for pleasure, and for those who travel for business – and of course the overall value for money, are Lufthansa’s top quality features that maintain high competitive strengths in its products and services.

At the same time, the Lufthansa Group is continuously improving the quality of its services and the passenger’s overall travel experience – from the moment he buys the ticket to the moment of the arrival at the destination – investing in the digitisation and personalisation of air services in order to be able to understand and meet the need of each of our passengers separately.

The ‘‘kingdom’’ of street, track, sky and space simulation is in Thessaloniki

By | News

The world’s largest carmakers, from Mercedes to Toyota and from Peugeot to Honda, have been using Greek emission simulation and antifouling engine technology for a few years now, developed by researchers based in Thessaloniki. The Formula 1 teams have also been using this technology. At the same time, the Commission, 22 out of the 28 EU member states and the government of Hong Kong also rely on Greek ‘‘lights’’ for the census of pollutant emissions from road transport. Also, scientists in Thessaloniki are working on technologies that have raised NASA’s interest, while laboratories where Greek researchers are employed invent technologies in Northern Greece that reach the Airbus aircrafts.

Some decades ago, the phrase ‘‘Technology Made in Greece’’, especially for the automotive industry, would probably cause question if not smirks in the foreign markets, but now, companies such as ‘‘BETA CAE’’ based in K. Scholari of Thessaloniki and spin-offs such as ‘‘EXOTHERMIA’’ and ‘‘EMISIA’’, created in 2007 and 2008 respectively, within the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, have begun to change the image by creating important islets of innovation in the field of simulation and in general CAE (Computer-Aided Engineering). At the same time, the high level of the Greek research force has drawn in Northern Greece foreign companies from cutting-edge industries, such as the US ‘‘ALTAIR’’, which through Thessaloniki produces research work exploited even by Airbus. In any case, it is now clear that the environment that is formed in the area, where the Alexander Innovation Zone is active, is absolutely appropriate for the development of business activities characterized by innovation and high specialization.

Large room for investments in next generation access networks in Northern Greece

By | News

The implementation of the ‘‘Ultra-Fast Broadband (UFB)’’ project by the Ministry of Digital Policy, Telecommunications and Media aims at mapping private investment projects related to Next Generation Access (NGA). This particular project, which has to do particularly with Northern Greece, aims at creating the necessary infrastructure for the provision of high-speed broadband internet services in areas of the country which are not covered by such networks.

With the detailed listing of private investments, which are scheduled by the end of 2023, the General Secretariat for Telecommunications and Post of the Ministry of Digital Policy, Telecommunications and Media will be given the opportunity to plan in the best possible way the new action, which forms part of an intervention grid for the full coverage of the country by fiber-optic networks. This is expected to change the image and broaden the growth potential of the domestic digital economy, which will decisively facilitate the promotion of innovative projects, solutions and proposals.

The ‘‘Ultra-Fast Broadband’ project will be implemented through Public-Private Partnerships with a budget of 350 million euros. The financial size of the project itself shows the needs that exist and the perspectives that are being created, while the public involvement funds come from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) – Operational Programme ‘‘Competitiveness, Entrepreneurship, Innovation’’ (EPAnEK) and the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) – Rural Development Programme 2014-2020 (RDP).

Two stores of digital transformation operate in Thessaloniki

By | News

The Nanotechnology Laboratory and the nZEB  Smart House function as ‘‘one stop stores’’ with the aim of digital business transformation.

Five centers that support businesses with their digital transformation, Digital Innovation Hub, are already operating in Greece as ‘‘one stop stores’’, where companies, mainly small and medium enterprises, start ups and small cap businesses are being helped to improve their business models, offered services, production lines and products through Digital Technology.

This is a pan-European goal set in 2016 in the framework of the European Union Strategy for a Single Digital Market, so that any business in Europe in any sector, regardless of its location and size, can take advantage of the benefits that stem from the digital innovations.

There are five DIHs in Greece, two of which are in Thessaloniki. Something quite normal and expected for the Greek standards, since the Alexander Innovation Zone SA is active in the city, which aims at promoting innovation as a business practice and a comparative advantage in the wider region.

Analytically these are:

The LTFN Nanotechnology Laboratory, with its facilities at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki and the Center for Organic and Printed Electrical Engineering (COPE-H) in the area of Thermi in Thessaloniki.

The ‘‘Athena’’ Research Center in Athens

The nZEB Smart House – Smart Energy House, in Thessaloniki.

The Center for Digital Innovation in Blue Growth

According to the Nanotechnology Laboratory announcement, coordinated by the Research Institutions of Excellence, DIHs offer: 1) access to digital technologies, tools and know-how, 2) infrastructures for testing new technologies, 3) educational activities for the development of digital skills, 4) consulting services for finding funding schemes, 5) market analyses, 6) networking opportunities. Practices that offer practical business solutions.

”In the European Union the fully functioning DIHs are 174, and another 500 are in a preparatory phase. The outcome of the New Digital Age and at the same time one of the ten European Union’s political priorities for the next decade is the achievement of the Digital Single Market (DSM). The EU objective is the integrated Single Digital Market that will bring

€ 415 billion per year to its economy, creating new jobs, new businesses and enabling existing businesses to be aimed at a market of 500 million people, developing public services and establishing an open government system”, explains the person responsible for issues of extroversion and exploitation of innovation at the LTFN Nanotechnology Laboratory of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki and the HOPE-A Hellenic Organic and Printed Electronics Association, Phoebe Logothetidis.

European Platform of National Initiatives, but not for us…

60% of large enterprises and 90% of small businesses lag behind the integration of digital innovations with wide variations being recorded between different sectors of the industry. Great emphasis is put on the preparation of the Europeans for the New Digital Age so as to take advantage of the benefits of Digital Transformation. The education system will be adapted and the workforce will be trained in similar skills. The Digital Innovation Hubs will play a key role in assessing the skills needs of the workforce of businesses and providing appropriate educational services.

”Appropriate policies and the appropriate channeling of funds are needed to effectively adapt to the new era. The European Platform of National Initiatives launched in March 2017 with the commitment of the member states and the attraction of investments and various cooperative actions. There are already 15 national initiatives, in which however Greece is not included, and this shows that we have not acted promptly.

A source of funding for the DEI initiative and, more specifically, the DIHs project would be the proper capitalisation of funds from the ”European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF). However, this is determined by the National and Regional Strategies for Digital Development and Research and Technology Strategies for Smart Specialization (RIS3), which need to emphasize or even integrate such initiatives into their plans”, as noted in the relevant announcement.

New display opportunities for Greek businesses on Cloud

By | News

From September 2018 Greek businesses will have the opportunity to be advertised for free in the international market; to promote their products on the cloud of GS1 standards, on the cloud of barcodes.

According to the Market Development Manager of GS1 Association Greece Dimitris Christou, the International Organisation for ISO supply chain management standards, of which Greece is one of 112 members, will very soon make available to companies a very important service for product recognition but indirectly for their promotion.

As yet, as Mr. Christou points out, the barcode on a product gives information only about the manufacturer, which is no longer enough for the major electronic commerce companies, such as eBay, Alibaba, Amazon, Google. Now the next step of GS1, which will be implemented with the use of cloud, will be the GS1 Cloud, which will provide information on the products as well – for instance labels and descriptions – as well as their images.

The GS1 Cloud comes out in September with three functions, starting with the first one, the ‘‘check’’, which will verify the product’s valid or non-valid barcode.

The second function is the ‘‘view’’, while the third function, the ‘‘explore’’, will be the most important since it will allow the search of a product on cloud.

The GS1 Cloud can be used as a very helpful tool by the customs and the financial control officers, but it is certainly a very powerful tool for promoting products.

In the first phase of the standard on cloud, seven fields per product will be included, while in the next phase which will have the characteristics of B2C, the fields will be able to reach the number of 30, depending on the information that companies will wish to provide about their products.


The USA is focusing on the Greek technology and innovation market

By | News

Technology and innovation are the hallmarks of the USA participation as the honoured country at the 83rd Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF) from 8 to 16 September 2018. More than 30 major US companies will participate in the pavilion of the country, while on the occasion of the exhibition, Mr. Wilbur Ross, Secretary of Commerce of the Trump administration, will be visiting Thessaloniki. By participating as the honoured country at this year’s TIF, the USA is seeking to feature Greece and Thessaloniki as the centre of developments in the wider region, while creating at the same time development opportunities for the country.

As the President of the Greek-American Chamber of Commerce, Mr. Simos Anastasopoulos, points out, the aim is to create perspectives for cooperation in technology and innovation, two areas in which the USA is distinguished and is the world’s leading. The interest in investment in Greece, where US companies are already dynamic, especially in the technology sector, is very large and mainly in energy, tourism, real estate and logistics, areas with potential that exceeds the country’s risk.

40 companies

The US participation at the 83rd TIF will ‘‘occupy’’ No. 13 Pavilion, the largest of the Thessaloniki International Exhibition Centre. Around 40 companies, which are active in areas such as robotics, artificial intelligence, green environmental technologies, aeronautics, information technology and communications, will be hosted in this venue. Among the companies involved are Lockheed Martin, Google, Facebook, Microsoft and Cisco. The orientation of the Pavilion favours the interactive presentations, so that everyone understands how technology and innovation play a key role in development. That is why, in addition to the exhibition stands of the companies, there will be a central venue for events, discussions, artistic happenings as well as a separate seminar room. The US participation in this year’s TIF will be enriched with parallel events. The agenda includes the Energy Forum for the South-Eastern Europe, the round-table discussion with the participation of Secretary Ross and CEOs of multinational companies, as well as the Transatlantic Cooperation Conference in which representatives of regional American chambers will participate. There will also be a forum for cybersecurity as well as a debate on attracting investment in Southeastern Europe.

It is noteworthy that on the occasion of the presence of the USA at No.13 Pavilion , the Hellenic Ministry of Digital Policy and the TIF – Helexpo are organizing the group participation of start ups at No. 12 Pavilion in order to demonstrate the Greek dynamics in this critical area of the modern economy. Besides, in Greece – and particularly in Thessaloniki where the Alexander Innovation Zone is based – many start-up companies operate, the scope of which far exceeds the borders of the country.

Thessaloniki is becoming the design centre in the Southeast Europe

By | News

The Hellenic Design Centre, a centre created by the Stavros Niarchos Foundation and the support of the Municipality of Thessaloniki, began operating in Thessaloniki in the first months of 2018. This is an initiative that aims at harnessing the potential of a branch which is closely united with innovation and is of great magnitude in Europe. According to the European Commission, design has significant economic and cultural value for Europe, since 12 million people work in the creative and cultural industries of our continent. These industries have a production that accounts for 4.2% of the EU’s GDP, while more than 400.000 designers are employed. The Hellenic Design Centre, whose scope is expected to soon cover Greece and, more broadly, Southeastern Europe, is ready to offer its services to enterprises – mostly to small and medium-sized ones and start-ups – but also to collaborate with other organisations to promote first-priority issues in a creative manner initially for Thessaloniki. Its first activities include workshops on three themes: the original design clinic concept, the special services for six-month start-ups and the design challenge which at an initial stage starts urban interventions with a special reference to tourism. Design is neither fashion nor aesthetics for the European Union. It is something much more than this, it is of economic and business importance. It is the design that should be integrated into innovative products, services and processes for the sake of private companies that are strong in the global competition as well as efficient public bodies. Based on these facts, the EU has included design into its policies, beginning with its first action plan in 2013. Since progress is flowing and perceptions change rapidly, it is obvious that the design driven innovation becomes a catalyst for innovative changes in industry, services and the public sector.

In the context of new trends and the new European industrial policy, the EU is planning four axes of design intervention:

– The boosting of the European Industry Days every February.

– The opening of a regular communication between the creative and cultural sectors.

– The utilisation of design as a creative stimulus for innovation in the economy but also for the development of skills by human resources.

-The availability of resources that will be directed through new programs to businesses and operators.