Greece continues to mark new milestones on its way to becoming a regional center of technology, with foreign investors betting on the country’s prospects as a data and communications hub, as an incubator of innovative new startups, and source of top-notch human capital.
Earlier this month, at the inauguration of a new data center east of Athens, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis described the strides taken by Greece as tantamount to a “small revolution”. Within five years, he said, Greece’s technology sector will account for 10% of GDP.
The inauguration of the Athens-3 data center comes just weeks after Lamda Hellix, a subsidiary of U.S. data center giant Digital Realty, and Grid Telecom, a subsidiary of Greece’s national grid operator, agreed to expand their cooperation on Crete. Through their joint efforts, the island will become a regional telecommunications hub linking Europe, Asia and Africa.
Lamda Hellix recently announced the development of the first neutral data center, called HER1, in Heraklion, Crete’s largest city and port. The new center will be able to host submarine cable systems landing on the island from around the world, such as the new, ultra-high speed submarine data cable Greece is currently developing with Saudi Arabia.
The new data center also comes as the world’s three leading cloud computing giants – Microsoft, Amazon Web Services and Google – roll out plans for regional cloud hubs in Greece, and likewise complement new R&D hubs that are being established in the country by companies like Pfizer and Deutsche Telekom, drawn by Greece’s pool of skilled talent.
With a highly educated workforce, Greece boasts one of the highest ratios of STEM – science, technology, engineering and math – graduates among OECD countries. In his remarks, Mr. Mitsotakis said the country had set a new record in the filing and approvals of new patents.
In the last few years, the Greek startup ecosystem has also grown by leaps and bounds. In late November, Abu Dhabi sovereign wealth fund ADQ took a stake in Greece’s Blueground, an Athens-based property tech company that is seen as one of the country’s most promising startups, valuing the company at €750 million. Blueground is currently present in 26 cities around the world with a portfolio of approximately 8,000 apartments. It hopes to expand its network to 35,000 apartments in 50 cities by 2025.