It is one of the strongest and more persistent stories forming the narrative in Greece today; the human capital flight, or ‘brain drain’ that has deprived the country from almost 180,000 graduates who have left y to pursue work opportunities overseas in the last eight years.
According to the narrative, this is at the same time an after effect of the crisis, offering evidence of how it has affected the country, but also one of the causes of the country’s further sinking into recession, as it cannot rely on highly-skilled workers who could lead innovation and restart the economy.
Now the trend is supposedly reversing. Last week, the BBC Capital webpage posted a report on a series of young Greek entrepreneurs expressing their willingness to return to Greece and put their acquired skills and experience to use, setting up tech start-ups.
This trend is led in its turn by a series of Venture Capital firms, receiving funds by the Greek government, the European Investment Fund and European Investment Bank, in order to bring Greek economy back to life. It is definitely a challenge. Greece is thought one of the least investor-friendly countries in EU, but with the economy finally getting to grow by 1.6 percent in 2017 and the bailout programme scheduled to end in August, the odds are seemingly in favour of new businesses – and the 45 percent youth unemployment calls for urgent external intervention.
According to the BBC report, universities have been setting up research programs, in order to lure scientists back to the country, offering them appealing opportunities.
But it’s the Venture Capital approach that seems to be turning the tables, offering startups with a kind of security that balances out the difficulties of setting up business in Greece.
Overall, the Greek-state and EU funded Venture Capital model is based on the experience in Israel, which has grown to become a tech and innovation hub, in the past 25 years, energised by Venture Capitals.
One of the most active such companies in Greece, Marathon Venture capital, is presented as an example at the BBC report, having already invested in five companies with another two in the pipeline, with a total of 20 companies to have been set in motion over the next four years.
“A number of truly successful technology companies are going to emerge from a fast-growing network of Greek entrepreneurs,” reads the Marathon website. “It is already happening.”