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IDEA: An entrepreneurial hub and incubator for startups

In 2015, IDEA was established by Bank of Cyprus and other partners as an entrepreneurial hub and incubator for startups. Today, it is the largest non-profit, comprehensive innovation centre in Cyprus, comprising more than 120 private and public partnerships supporting innovative startups and SMEs and promoting a culture of change and digital transformation.

IDEA offers each participating startup a support package of up to €60,000 in cash and services. Support also includes seed funding, business-creation training, workshops, mentoring, consultation and complimentary office space. It also provides networking and business development opportunities, connections to investors and free professional services. IDEA aims to attract and support young entrepreneurs who are enthusiastic about developing innovative products or services that offer a profitable exit opportunity for investors. Its alumni come from various sectors: fintech, AI, cybersecurity, green shipping, arts and culture, real estate, e-commerce, healthcare, education and more. So far 89 startups have participated in the programme, 42 have graduated and 32 are still active, most with revenue and several with profits.

Panayiotis Korinos, Manager Innovation & Entrepreneurship Centre at Bank of Cyprus, talks about the local startup ecosystem and the changes required to “take it to the next level”.

What changes would you like to see to the Cyprus startup ecosystem that could help it evolve and take it to the next level?

Among the proposed actions are the following: (1) The introduction of entrepreneurship as a career option in education; (2) The promotion of studies and training in technologies that the ecosystem needs, leading to a greater supply of software developers; (3) State support for accelerators/incubators; (4) The encouragement of co-funding mechanisms so that startups can overcome the so-called ‘valley of death’; (5) The development/attraction of funds that invest exclusively in startups; (6) The use of economic diplomacy; (7) The development of a new entrepreneurship-oriented culture and mindset, through events, seminars, workshops and the transmission of knowledge and experience to young entrepreneurs. The key το success is cooperation and coordinated action by all components of the ecosystem – entrepreneurs, the Government, universities and the private sector. They need to operate in a circular, working relationship to embrace and encourage young entrepreneurs to take risks and explore new routes.

This article first appeared in the April edition of GOLD magazine. Click here to view it.

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