Two days ded­i­cated to the fu­ture

Sec­ond Greek-French In­no­va­tion Net­work Fo­rum draws 300 start-ups and 1,500 vis­i­tors

Kathimerini English - - Focus - BY VANGELIS MANDRAVELIS

Smart clothes that be­come longer or shorter de­pend­ing on the weather, elec­tronic pet col­lars that al­low bet­ter com­mu­ni­ca­tion be­tween hu­mans and an­i­mals, ro­botic pan­els that il­lus­trate the thoughts of stu­dents, en­ergy pro­duced from wa­ter and mat­tresses that give you a mas­sage as you sleep are but some of the vi­sions that Greek el­e­men­tary school pupils have for the coun­try in 2050. Sixty 9- to 12-year-olds pre­sented these and other ideas on what they imag­ine life will be like in 33 years’ time at the Sec­ond Greek-French In­no­va­tion Net­work Fo­rum at the Tech­nop­o­lis cul­tural com­plex in cen­tral Athens last Fri­day and Satur­day, or­ga­nized by the French Em­bassy and the French In­sti­tute in Athens.

The ma­jor­ity of the young­sters imag­ined tech­nolo­gies and so­lu­tions that would fa­cil­i­tate the lives of chil­dren in the fu­ture. One, for ex­am­ple, en­vi­sioned a mi­cro­phone pen that would write out test an­swers and es­says dic­tated by the stu­dent in his or her hand­writ­ing. Many, though, tried to come up with so­lu­tions to ex­ist­ing prob­lems to­day, such as find­ing ways for get­ting much-needed en­ergy from plants and/or wa­ter. Oth­ers pro­posed non-in­va­sive vac­ci­na­tions and a health scan­ner that could rec­om­mend treat­ments. The mas­sage mat­tress, how­ever, was def­i­nitely the star of the show.

These young vi­sion­ar­ies were the last voices heard at the two-day in­no­va­tion fo­rum, which saw 300 par­tic­i­pants present their in­no­va­tive ideas and business plans, hold meet­ings with po­ten­tial buy­ers or part­ners, and re­ceive awards for cre­ative ideas that con­trib­ute to their coun­try. The event also in­cluded three work­shops on smart cities, a net­work­ing section bring­ing to­gether young en­trepreneurs with cru­cial sup­port ser­vices like in­vest­ment funds and le­gal firms, as well as a section on art and en­trepreneur­ship.

It was, by all ac­counts, a re­sound­ing suc­cess, with more than 1,500 vis­i­tors and over 15,000 users watch­ing the fo­rum on­line. Ac­cord­ing to National Tech­ni­cal Univer­sity Eco­nom­ics of Tech­nol­ogy Pro­fes­sor Yan­nis Caloghi­rou, who was one of the su­per­vi­sors in the smart city work­shop, the ex­change of ideas and know-how be­tween states, cities, busi­nesses and aca­demic and re­search bod­ies is cru­cial to de­vel­op­ing ur­ban cen­ters that are more en­ergy ef­fi­cient, that pro­vide cit­i­zens with bet­ter lines of com­mu­ni­ca­tion and that de­velop hubs of knowl­edge in other cities. The fo­rum was a suc­cess in this re­spect, as it brought to­gether rep­re­sen­ta­tives from Athens, Irak­lio on Crete, Trikala in cen­tral Greece, and French cities such as Paris and Saint-Eti­enne.

The big­gest con­tri­bu­tion made by the fo­rum, how­ever, was the adop­tion of some 20 start-ups by large, es­tab­lished Greek and French busi­nesses – this was, af­ter all, the or­ga­niz­ers’ main ob­jec­tive – that will pro­vide both fi­nan­cial and tech­ni­cal sup­port. The de­tails of the agree­ments forged were not made pub­lic as ne­go­ti­a­tions are on­go­ing.

Last but not least, the fo­rum awarded seven new busi­nesses and agen­cies for their pos­i­tive con­tri­bu­tion to in­no­va­tion and so­ci­ety. The top prize was be­stowed on the Greek As­so­ci­a­tion of So­cial Re­spon­si­bil­ity for Chil­dren and Youth, whose pur­pose is to aid in the so­cial as­sim­i­la­tion of young peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties.

The Sec­ond Greek-French In­no­va­tion Net­work Fo­rum at the Tech­nop­o­lis cul­tural com­plex in cen­tral Athens was, by all ac­counts, a re­sound­ing suc­cess, with more than 1,500 vis­i­tors and over 15,000 users watch­ing the fo­rum on­line.

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