Towards a sustainable Startup and Tech Ecosystem

Towards a sustainable Startup and Tech Ecosystem

  • Пятница, 08 апреля 2022 16:52
    • Photo pixabay.com Photo pixabay.com

    From 2015 I have been blogging and reporting on Cypriot Startups, technology and innovation. I used to run the independent media DisruptCyprus, where we dealt with news and stories of innovation, start-ups, technology and inventions based in Cyprus and or created by Cypriots worldwide. We managed to grow a social media community of 15,000+ people organically, I covered 300+ events in Cyprus and abroad and we organised lots of innovative tech events.

    Through our interaction with a lot of people it was obvious that people living in Cyprus wanted to learn more about robotics, technology, start-ups and generally creative ways that they could use in their daily lives. It is important to explain what a startup means, because it is not a simple business. Startup is a business organization based on a new, smart, original and innovative idea. A start-up has a very fast growth rate, with most of the time, using a lot of technology in its implementation and usually raises venture capital from investors to operate. Cyprus needs to build a multicultural startup, tech and innovation ecosystem to support the country and improve the life of daily people.

    Business people are asking if Cyprus can become the next Startup or Tech Island? That’s a very difficult question to answer. The startup ecosystem is very new. It started around 2012 with some first events like Open Coffee, Startup Weekend, HackCyprus. The Cyprus Computer Society has been doing a lot of work on IT education and lobbying for changes for the last 35 years. We are moving in the right direction. Not very fast but yes the tech ecosystem is growing. Building a tech ecosystem takes time, huge effort and it is like a puzzle. Most of the pieces are there but we are missing a few.

    We are missing:

    a) Angel Investors and Cypriot-based venture capital firms that will invest in very early-stage startup and tech companies that have operations in the island.
    b) A critical mass of early-stage startups. We need to build programs that every year will create 300+ internationally oriented startups. After all, only 10% will survive each year.
    c) Sufficient number of programmers, engineers and technical talent who will want to stay and work in Cyprus. This is a European problem. New government rules have been introduced in 2022 to help tech companies in the short term but we need a long term strategy that involves education and a cultural mindset shift towards the STEM field.

    Some opportunities and suggestions are:

    a) We need to engage and bring in Cyprus big Accelerators and Incubators to setup shop on our island. Especially in the areas of Fintech, Shipping, Tourism, Social Innovation, Gaming, AI and EdTech.
    b) A Cyprus Tech Visa with the right motives to attract senior tech talent to open their new companies in Cyprus
    c) Improve as fast as possible our digital e-government procedures following the Estonian model.
    d) The Introduction of the institution of the Technological School (such as the Music School, the Sports School) in public education. Digital skills are as necessary as the arts, sports to be a complete person in the new society we live in.
    e) Two years ago, a young primary student asked the Deputy Minister of Research, Innovation, Digital Policy if each student would have his own tablet or laptop in public schools. We need a program like OLPC - One laptop per child to bridge that gap.
    f) All the universities need to invest in their own incubator and connect them with venture capital funds. A public - private cooperation is needed. The Universities need to connect the dots of a triple Helix Innovation model.
    g) Redesigning the spinout law and framework is needed. It should be a priority. World class research is done in our universities and we need to bridge that with the business world.
    h) Private accelerators and incubators need to get more financial support from the government with a co-funding mechanism in order to create more programs.

    I believe we need to map the problems, the opportunities and the current situation of bridging theory, policy and practice for our startup and tech scene. We need to setup short-term and long-term goals to solve problems and grow this ecosystem. Together and collectively.

    The goal is to build a strategy that attracts and builds sustainable companies and growth. It would be a good idea to use the 17 goals of UN Sustainable Development Goals in our process. We need to build a sustainable future for Cyprus.

    Panis Pieri
    Disrupt Cuprus
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