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1999 waren wir beteiligt an der NGO Internet Fiesta und - in neuer Zusammensetzung - an "Global Village 99" Das geplante 4. internationale Global Village Symposium mußte leider abgesagt und auf unbestimmte Zeit vertagt werden.

Lebenslagen und soziale Auswirkungen - Rurbanisation / Impacts on Life and Society - Rurbanization Vienna City Hall, February 1995
Resort Offices and Telework Tourism

Abstract     Lecture     Author

George Kiriakidis - Science and Tech. Park of Crete (GR)



I will give you the experience of how over the last ten years we have developed some RTO activities. In contrast to the two cases we have heard previously, one from France, one from Germany, which referred to activities from top to bottom, I will call you to concentrate on what can be done by creating bottom up activities. I also plan to reverse the attitude that is well spread within the EEC that Greece is a place where they take a lot of money and they produce little results. I will tell you what we can do with few people and no money. I will try to make no claim on what's going on in Greece as a country and I will concentrate on what we have done in Crete.

Ten years ago the first non-national, non-centralized institute was established in Greece and that was in Crete, it was called the Research Centre of Crete. Now the name has changed and is Foundation for Research and Technology Hellas (FORTH) and it is the only national foundation with seven institutes spread all over Greece but it is still based on Crete. It started as a crusade of three people and now we have 600 people of which close to 500 are researchers and very few support personnel.

We started ten years ago with a vision. The vision said: let's not try to correct whatever is wrong, let's try to concentrate in new fields where there is a lot of expertise available throughout the world, bring all these expertise to one place and let them produce, far away from the politicians and far away from the established decision makers in Athens. So we started in Crete and for the first five years nobody paid any attention to us. We worked in peace and that was very fortunate.

New, ten years later from the three original visionaries there is a world class establishment doing meaningful work, drawing a lot of competitive contracts from EEC and everybody has started paying attention to these people. We have now something like 9 billion Greek Drachmas in competitive contracts from EEC and elsewhere and we draw only 20% of our budget from national resources. The rest is competitive money.

Now what did we do with all this effort? The idea was to establish an institute which is scientifically competent and can be a world class institute in specific areas like micro electronics, lasers, informatics and biotechnology. These are the areas that we concentrated and these are the areas where the expertise lies. Once we created this expertise we thought of how can we take this expertise and bring it to the outside world? That was very difficult. I think it is difficult in any country, but in Greece, with no background and previous experience, it was extremely difficult. It was almost a mission impossible. The case that I will present today is how we created some mechanisms that would bring the industry close to the academic and research worlds and vice versa.

This is a list of background experience we had to face ourselves with. Lack of information, especially in Crete we could not have easy access to information. We had to establish the information channels not only within Greece, but also with the outside world. Lack of confidence, nobody believed that anything could be done, so we had to develop this confidence. Lack of innovation, traditionally Greece had no innovative experience, we had to convince people that whatever we do is not only useful but it is also innovative. Finally, there was lack of technological support. We had to work with these drawbacks and counter/tackle them.

I will concentrate on three areas of our activities. We had to enhance the dissemination of technical information to SME's, we had to let the SMEs know that we can provide them with information and I will talk about the network called Praxis. We also had to establish the technological acquisition processes by going through these well established steps by creating awareness, creating some specifications, identifying the areas that were needed and also implement particular projects. I will conclude my talk today with something about creation of continuous feedback and support services which we regard as essential and which we think we can implement through a successful operation of science parks and also local and international networks.

The first thing we did is that we tried to see whether we could get some of the expertise that was developed within our research centre to the outside world. It was relatively easy to contact European companies and convince them instead of convincing some Greek companies. Partly there was no tradition of needs for innovation and technology from the Greek companies. Our first success came from projects with a company in France where we were producing some custom made integrated circuits. We also, very successfully, participated in the SPRINT project (Annette) developing close collaboration with some significant centres and universities throughout Europe.

We tried to create mechanisms where a small unit within our science park could disseminate the technology that was initiated within the research centre. This unit took the form of a spin off, a small private company in which the research centre was participating with about 21% of sales. The rest was a company with over 40 researchers and colleagues. The effort of that company was to create channels and to find products so that we can pass all this information to any other potential users, or use their expertise and bring it back to Greece.

This small company became part of an academic network with ten partners who have some direct link with university or academic networks. These are not commercial brokers, they are not companies, they are companies within the university of the research centre environment. Even further we have managed to identify at least one science park associated with each or all of these members within this network. So, the crucial area where we are working at the moment is the academic research environment, the industrial environment and the science parks.

It wasn't easy to work closely with companies at the beginning, as they were very suspicious on what we want to do with the information that we were seeking, and how much it was going to cost them. We compiled the Annette compendium (something like 143 projects). I am glad to say that we had inquiries not only from within the EEC but we had a few from the United States and one came from as far as Japan. As far as the expertise out of this compendium is concerned. So we have done a lot of auditing and a lot of benchmarking as far as the company is concerned before we produced this compendium and it has been very successful so far.

We also had to create channels for dissemination of the information within Greece. This channel was created as a research centre and creating a liaison or collaboration with the Association of Greek Industrialists and that was the initiation of the Praxis program. The Praxis program had as a target to get all the information that was from the European channels and from the Greek channels into the potential users: the industrialists, the companies, the universities, the research institutes and so forth. This has been in operation for the last three years. It is very successful and people get any information that is available from the EEC updated very quickly and with a lot of explanation so they can have all the information in time to apply for whatever interests them.

Now this Praxis network was used to get the information not only from the EEC into the Praxis central node and in touch with industries and research centres, but also to establish individual links between industry and research centres or the academic centres, and Praxis is aiming to reverse this trend.

Strategically we want to continue, develop skills and facilities of members including exchange of visits and teleworking facilities. Our resent achievement is the establishment and operation of the first Resort Office facility in Europe called Crete Resort Offices (CROs) located in our Science Park offering unique opportunities to businessmen and teleworking experts in combining state-of-the-art telematics infrastructure and networking facilities with the pleasant and hospitable resort environment of Crete. Visitors from the North European regions have already experienced this novel opportunity which enables them to continue exercising their every day business activities from a holiday resort location through telematic networks. We will also continue promotion of technologies of course, continue to work with SME's and science parks.

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