The topic of the Study visit was: “Incubators and Entrepreneurship Support Structures”. Delegates from Usti Region and the Lead Partner visited 3 different forms of Incubators during the first day. More specifically they had the chance to meet
1. a private incubator i4G SA (http://i4g.gr ). i4G is a Greek-based Incubator running also a seed investment fund for tech and science startups. Forty five companies have entered i4G incubator.
2. an Incubator supported by a Research Centre- THERMI Business Incubator S.A. (http://www.certh.gr/89C12E55.en.aspx). Thermi Business Incubator hosts technologically innovative enterprises, which have the potential to be supported in terms of innovation and entrepreneurial development in the sectors of biomedicine, biotechnology, development of advanced software and ‘smart' devices, telematics, wireless data transmission, development of internet applications, and environmental protection systems. CERTH can effectively support start-ups that were based on the outcome of a research or start-ups that need advanced laboratories to grow. CERTH can certainly provide high and advanced equipment to support entrepreneurs.
3. A public-scheme for pre-incubating innovative ideas - OK!THESS (http://okthess.gr/) OK!THESS participates in the PURE COSMOS Good Practice Register (Good Practice 1). It is a partnership of Universities, Business associations and a local Authority providing an ecosystem supported by the triple helix. The members of OK!THESS Ecosystem are the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, the Municipality of Thessaloniki, the Thessaloniki Innovation Zone, the International Hellenic University, the Alexander Technological Institute, the Federation of Industries of Northern Greece and the Greek International Business Association.
In all three incubators, delegates had the chance to discuss freely with representatives of the start-ups who explained how they were supported by their host incubator.
Start-uppers had the chance to present their idea and to explain how they materialized it into a new product or service.
On 22nd of March the delegates visited Ergani Center (Good Practice 17), which is a Center for Supporting Employment and Entrepreneurship (www.ergani.gr ). The Centre is the outcome of a mixture of ideas from a number of organizations and authorities of Northern Greece, all focusing on enhancing female participation in the workforce and on eliminating factors that lead to women’s exclusion from the labor market.
Three cooperatives had the chance to briefly present their business and the support they were offered by Ergani Center. The delegates completed their visit in Thessaloniki by visiting a pastry Social Cooperative in Kalamaria. They discussed over lunch the business start-up, the administrative difficulties the enterprise faced during start-up as a social cooperative and the support it received by Ergani during their first steps.
The visit to both Good Practices provided knowledge on how young or older entrepreneurs are offered consultation, mentoring, support and services in order to start-up and operate their idea.