ATHENS – After the successful completion of four award cycles, the Hellenic Entrepreneurship Award (HEA) invites start-up businesses to submit their business plans to compete in the fifth annual award program. Winners will share interest-free start-up funding of €1.25 million, along with mentoring and business support services provided by HEA’s network of supporters. The HEA website, www.hellenicaward.com will be open for applications from Greek start-up businesses until February 16.
Since the establishment of HEA more than 2,600 Greek businesses have participated in the award program. Founded in 2012 by the Libra Group on behalf of the Hellenic Initiative, HEA has awarded a total of 14 winners who continue to enjoy support and advice from the HEA and its supporters. Previous winners come from a variety of business sectors, from meteorology, culture, and medical technology to innovative digital services. These companies have achieved consistent commercial growth despite Greece’s prolonged economic downturn. They have created hundreds of direct and indirect jobs, actively combatting the “brain drain” by keeping resourceful young professionals in Greece as well as encouraging those who are now based abroad to return to their home country.
Libra Group has committed €10 million to supporting entrepreneurship in Greece through the HEA. The Award has provided interest-free funding to 14 winners, while each of them has been provided with an expert mentor to guide them through the demanding early stages of business planning.
This year, HEA will intensify its educational support. HEA will provide comprehensive business start-up education events at ten different locations across Greece with interactive seminars, workshops, and webinars. The initiative seeks to stimulate the entrepreneurial spirit to a wider audience than ever before and unlock the untapped potential of even more Greek entrepreneurs.
This year three more supporters have stepped forward to offer their support to the HEA. Atradius, will offer winners a wide range of subsidized credit insurance services. SATO will provide heavily discounted office furniture to HEA and its winners, while V+O, a leading communication agency, will offer consultation and training seminars to HEA’s winners, arming them with key marketing and communications skills.
Commenting on the launch of HEA 2017, Jimmy Athanasopoulos, Chairman of the Hellenic Entrepreneurship Award and Head of Social Responsibility at the Libra Group, said: “In recent years we have been amazed by the quality of business ideas conceived by entrepreneurs in Greece and we have been profoundly inspired by all the brilliant minds that we have met. Our campaign is focused around the motto, ‘It’s not enough to have a good idea, you also need the right skills to implement it.’ In 2017, we remain dedicated to our dual goals of providing business education to those who are lacking the support they need to compete, and identifying those outstanding business plans from experienced or first-time entrepreneurs that have the best chance of making a contribution to the economic development of Greece.”
The deadline for applications is February 16. Finalists will be announced in May and winners will be announced in June.
The 2016 HEA winners were Blueground, a technology-enabled chain of serviced apartments, houses and villas created by transforming existing residential properties; Bubbllz, a mobile application that rewards users’ social media posts and, via a web marketing platform, enables brands and vendors to promote products and services through user-generated content; and Raymetrics, a company that aims to create a new, advanced and powerful 3D ceilometer for the aviation industry, aimed at providing additional data, essential for airports and meteorological agencies.
The 2015 winners included Yoleni’s, an online delicatessen that enables European and American customers to purchase authentic products from every corner of Greece, soon to begin a chain of Greek gastronomy around the world; and Smart Guide, a wearable electronic mobility guide that senses nearby obstacles and obstructions for the blind and visually impaired. This innovative product will be produced in the facilities of “Lighthouse for the Blind of Greece” by employees who themselves have impaired vision. More information about the HEA awards is available at hellenicaward.com.