We were thrilled with the success of our 6th annual conference ‘RG Connect19: Greece Open for Business‘, which took place in London last Saturday. RG Connect19 certainly delivered on its promise to bring together an international community of entrepreneurs, investors, professionals, academics and policymakers. Key stakeholders joined from the US, the UK, Belgium, Greece, Germany, the Netherlands, Serbia, the U.A.E and Japan, in an effort to forge connections, exchange views and drive positive change.
Fifty-five international speakers participated in sessions across three tracks, ‘Inspire, Learn and Connect’. Over 250 people attended the conference and over 700 people watched via the live stream. The day was packed with inspiring keynotes, topical panel discussions, startup pitches, a fundraising workshop and networking opportunities.
RG Connect19 aimed to mobilise the diaspora to drive innovative investments in Greece. The one-day conference included talks on how to raise funds and scale up your business, technology and innovation (AI and robotics, 5G, internet of things, smart cities, and the electrification of transport), the future of work and female leadership.
At the event Mr Gregoris Dimitriadis, Secretary General for International Economic Affairs, said “It is important to pass on the message that ‘Greece is Open for Business’. It is important for us to learn what entrepreneurs need as well as for entrepreneurs to learn about how the government is servicing them. RG Connect is an opportunity to learn about the ecosystem, it is an excellent forum to network and help startups scale up.”
Mr Andreas Stavropoulos, Partner at Threshold Ventures said “RG Connect is a great opportunity for people to come and form community and connect with investors, to get ideas and best practice from each other and hopefully move their ideas forward. I see a lot of positivity at RG Connect, people sharing ideas and investors meeting companies that they could potentially invest in.”
This year’s conference highlights include:
- International venture capitalists Andreas Stavropoulos (Partner, Threshold Ventures) from San Francisco, Bruno Bolsens (Partner, Big Pi Ventures) from Brussels and Greece and Neha Tanna (M.D. Principal, Joyance Partners) from the U.K. shared how VC sourcing channels work and how startups can best meet the criteria of a top VC in the ‘How Funds Source Deals’ session. As the panelists shared their thoughts on what they are looking for, they said “We look for a Founder with the right character, with resilience, and we look for teams that are thinking big, that are going after a global problem that wants solving”.
- Mr. Gregoris Dimitriadis (Secretary General for International Economic Affairs) and Mr. Christos Dimas and Mr. Ioannis Tsakiris, (government representatives from the Ministry of Development and Investments in Greece), discussed the changes Greece is implementing to become more open for business in the ‘Greece Open for Business’ panel. Mr Dimitriadis said “One of the primary objectives of the new government is to improve the competitiveness of the economy and we are passing new bills to help entrepreneurs start a business”.
- Lord Karan Bilimoria (CBE DL, Founder of Cobra Beer), shared his inspiring entrepreneurial journey and his path to building a global brand against all odds. Lord Karen inspired the audience by asking “What is the purpose of your life and how will you measure that?” and stating “Luck is when determination meets opportunity”.
- Fotis Karonis (CTIO, Enterprise & 5G Executive Lead, BT Group) and Ioannis Konstantinidis (Chief Strategy, Transformation & Wholesale Officer, OTE Group) discussed the future of communication in the ‘5G: Evolution or Revolution’ session. Mr Karonis said “If 5G was a state, it would have been part of the G7”.
- Liana Gouta (Group Director Energy Policy and International Affairs, HELPE) and Philippa Michali (CEO of Allianz Greece) joined the ‘Role Models Leading the Way to Diversity and Inclusion’ session. The panel discussed how competence, courage, character and commitment are needed to succeed in a competitive business environment and highlighted how most of the women who have overcome the obstacles and succeeded to lead top Fortune 500 companies are leading tech companies such as Yahoo, Google and IBM.
- Dr. Alexia Chatziparasidou (Founder, Embryolab), Dr. Dimitris Drakotos (Founder, Art Surgery) and Dr. Konstantinos Pantos (Founder, Genesis Athens Clinic) joined the ‘Greece as a Medical Destination‘ session moderated by George Kyvernitis, Vice President of Kyvernitis Travel S.A. As the panel discussed how Greece can become a key player in the medical tourism industry, Alexia Chatziparasidou stated “It’s not only about attracting patients but improving infrastructure and the quality of their experience, so we can welcome them, treat them, and support them”.
- Konstantinos Konstantinopoulos, (CEO, Coffee Island) shared his company’s journey, the significant developments which led to increasing their network and expanding to new markets and the steps Coffee Island is taking to become more sustainable in the ‘Scaling in Retail Business‘ session. Konstantinos Konstantinopoulos said “Never let anybody stop you from believing you can change the world”.
- Andrew Scott (Professor of Economics, London Business School and Author of international bestseller ‘The 100-Year Life’), Nikolaos Mavridis (Artificial Intelligence and Robotics Academic) and Maria Kolitsida (CEO of AI startup Winning Minds) discussed how longevity and new technologies are shaping the future of work and employability in the ‘Current Trends and the Future of Work’ session. Nikolaos Mavridis encouraged the audience to “Imagine a world where robots are part of our everyday life, as helpers but also as companions, and whose capabilities far outweigh human intelligence. Will there be an adequate number of jobs? Should working hours decrease or become zero, so we can become more creative or focus on activities for the common good?”.
Ten startups exhibited at the event and pitched to a panel of investor judges. The judges awarded 2MoRo Mobility the RG Connect19 Startup Award. The innovative startup, who are on a mission to modernise the way we move by leveraging our online footprint, won 6 months free office space at TMRW tech co-working space in London. George Cambanis, Co-Founder at 2MoRo Mobility, said “We are very happy to see the crowd and investors taking notice of the mobility industry’s disruptive forces. The RG Connect19 Startup Award helps us achieve another step towards realising our goal of modernising the way we move and delivering a personalised mobility experience. We are very excited about the connections we were able to establish at Reload Greece and we are excited to discover ways in which we can collaborate with like-minded people to propel our startup forward. We look forward to connecting with TMRW, who award us with a 6 month stay in their tech hub in London, and leveraging their experience and expertise.”
Through inspiring entrepreneurial success stories, enlightening discussions on topical comment issues and an international perspective on startup investments, it was great to see how the conference informed, inspired and empowered attendees. We would like to take this opportunity to thank our amazing donors and partners for their invaluable support, for believing in our mission and for helping to enable our community to inspire, learn and connect. It was fantastic to bring together our passionate and creative community and see them leaving energised and charged with ideas and inspiration. We are pleased to share the live stream videos of the keynote and Inspire sessions which were kindly live streamed by our parter Live Media and you can see the official event photos in our RG Connect19 Facebook album.
After a busy few months planning the conference, we will be taking a few minutes to take a breath but with our partner appreciation event in Greece next week and 11 Young Entrepreneurs Programme events across four countries to plan over the next couple of months, we have much to do. There are lots of upcoming opportunities to get involved in our work – watch this space for a chance to attend a RG YEP event if you’re interested in igniting, accelerating and pitching your business idea!