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Last week, the Region of Attica inaugurated a European office in Brussels. This was neither occasional nor conjectural. It forms part of a wider strategy to promote entrepreneurship, openness and innovation towards sustainable growth and job creation. This is a new regional development model we are working on in Attica.

This objective passes across a three-fold approach and a public initiative to support entrepreneurship.

The first dimension has to do with openness. The European Office of the Region of Attica in Brussels, the decision-making centre, can “contribute decisively to making the Region of Attica adopt an outward-looking approach, by building a chain of communication, exchange of information and good practices.

Something which we seek through our systematic involvement to worldwide leading events on innovation and digital policy: i.e. the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, DLD Innovation Festival in Tel Aviv, Slush event in Helsinki.

The Region of Attica was present at the aforementioned events, which thus enabled it to choose synergies — and this is the second dimension. We have selected various chambers of commerce and actors to be our associates/partners, such as the Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Athens Chamber of Tradesmen, Enterprise Greece or the Hellenic Association of Mobile Applications Companies (HAMAC). Our aimis to give Attica greater visibility in these top events, through mutually beneficial synergies in relation to supporting innovative entrepreneurship initiatives.

Thus, during the second six months of 2016, 8 Greek start-ups active in areas such as e-commerce, mobile applications, barter economy and the manufacture of cutting-edge machinery, had the opportunity to showcase their business ideas, new methods and innovative products and services at top international exhibitions in Helsinki (Slush) and in Lisbon (Summit), with the support of the Region of Attica.  

Meanwhile, under the strategy for a new model of regional development, we support structures and partnerships to promote and encourage smart specialisation and innovation initiatives. In this respect, we support Athens Start-up Business Incubator, (Th.E.A.), a self-financing initiative of the Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) for entrepreneurship promotion, through the Regional Development Fund of Attica.In that regard, we opt to reward innovative proposals and ideas for new entrepreneurs: we will award innovative start-ups next month, in cooperation with the Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI).

Exploring how to better join forces between public and private sectors, in which LRAs play a key role, is the third dimension of the aforementioned three-fold approach of ours. In this context, the Region of Attica has set up a cluster, thereby highlighting the Regional Unit of Northern Athens as a cultural-tourist destination. Thanks to the cooperation between the LRAs and the private sector, we aim at creating jobs and at supporting local entrepreneurship, by promoting our nature and history.

A digital platform for Public Consultation on entrepreneurship in Attica

However, the challenge for this new regional development model would lead to growth, not just “smart” but also sustainable and socially cohesive growth. It is about a model of entrepreneurship that would rely on an increased participation of citizens, in order to better reflect the real needs of the society in Attica. In this context, the Region of Attica launches a public consultation on the broad outlines of the Regional Operational Programme “Attica 2014-2020”, on the basis of which actions are to be taken to support entrepreneurship with an emphasis on the priority areas identified in the Smart Specialisation Strategy of the Region of Attica.

The public consultation is addressed to bodies and associations, as well as the business community and the citizens for the purpose of gathering views, ideas and proposals, so that actions developed under the programme of the Attica Region for entrepreneurship meet the actual needs of Attica’s business environment.  

It is a multidimensional process of public consultation, which includes meetings with bodies and associations related to promoting entrepreneurship, and public events. The digital platform for Public Consultation (http://intro.attica-forum.gr/) has a key role to play, as it invites all these players - citizens, organisations and businesses - to contribute their ideas and proposals on entrepreneurship.  

All interested parties can submit their views on the strategic orientation of Attica’s programme for entrepreneurship, as well as relevant investment priorities, and stand-alone proposals and ideas. We seek the greatest possible involvement and contribution of bodies, businesses and citizens to this public consultation. Entrepreneurship and regional development strategy are, thereby, becoming an open challenge for many, not an enclosure for a privileged few. Indeed, they become a commonplace through specific policies which produce results.

For, as Mariana Mazzucato, quotes her colleague, Andrew Stirling, Professor of Sussex in her book “The Entrepreneurial State: debunking public vs. private sector myths”: “So, the more demanding the challenges for innovation (like poverty, ill health or environmental damage), the greater becomes the importance of effective policy. These challenges of innovation policy go well beyond simplistic notions of governments trying to “pick winners” (…). Instead, then, the central challenge in innovation policy is about helping to harness the differences. This is about culturing the most fruitfully cross-fertilising conditions across society as a whole, for collectively seeding and selecting across many alternative possibilities and together nurturing the most potentially fruitful. (Stirling 2014a). This involves collaboratively deliberating, negotiating and constructing what ‘winning’ even means, not just how best to achieve it.” Cross-fertilising conditions across society are precisely what the Region of Attica Region aims at in order to effectively support entrepreneurship and innovation, i.e. two key factors which will contribute, to a large extent, to the revival of the local and, in particular, of the national economy.

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