Alexey Gubarev and Andreas Neocleous talk about the first TechIsland Awards

The inaugural TechIsland Awards will be presented in Limassol on 7 September.

They aim to recognise and reward the achievements of leaders, projects, and companies on the thriving local tech scene. Alexey Gubarev (TechIsland co-founder and Board Member, Palta co-founder and Board Member) and Andreas Neocleous (TechIsland Board Member and CEO of Cyta) speak to CBN about the aims and significance of the Awards.

The first-ever TechIsland Awards ceremony will be taking place soon. Why did the Association decide to create these Awards and why do you consider them to be an important addition to the local tech scene?

Alexey Gubarev: We decided to create the TechIsland Awards to recognise and celebrate the achievements of leaders and companies on the local tech scene. I believe that the TechIsland Awards will help promote a culture of progress and innovation. By recognising the achievements of leaders, projects, and companies, we hope to inspire others to strive to pursue goals and push the boundaries of what is possible in the tech industry. The event will also provide a networking opportunity for those in the industry. Bringing together the top minds on the tech scene will help foster collaboration and idea-sharing, which can lead to new innovations and breakthroughs.

How has the tech community responded to the idea of the TechIsland Awards?

Andreas Neocleous: The response has been very positive. The Awards aim to be a celebration of the tech community, and a great opportunity to bring forward and shine the spotlight on individuals, projects, and companies that are shaping the tech and innovation landscape in Cyprus. Our industry is booming and the fact that TechIsland now has over 260 members is testament to that. Cyprus is on the road to becoming an international tech hub and we should recognise the excellent work that is being done towards this goal.

What will the jury be looking for in order to choose the winning individuals and organisations?

A.G.: The jury will likely be looking for several essential qualities. One criterion deals with the innovation that a company or entrepreneur has implemented in a particular field. A second criterion concerns the impact on the IT industry in Cyprus and could include factors such as the number of people impacted, the breadth of influence, and the long-term effects of their work. Third, the jury will be looking at entrepreneurs with strong leadership skills, who are leading successful projects, inspiring and mentoring others, or advocating for important causes. Finally, collaboration is also an important factor in achieving common goals, and this may refer to collaborations with other organisations, academic institutions, or government agencies.

A.N.: The Awards aim to recognise and celebrate those whose efforts are contributing to making Cyprus a world-class hub for tech and innovation. Each category has a different set of criteria and specific factors that define excellence and what makes each nominee eligible for a particular award. The categories have been chosen in such a way as to demonstrate the tech industry’s incredible impact across different sectors: education, economy, society, and so on.

How do you view the tech sector (locally and globally) today and its potential for growth?

A.N.: Technology has not only changed the way we live, work, and communicate, but it also transformed industries as varied as healthcare, finance, transport, and entertainment. The development of new technologies such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, blockchain, and the Internet of Things (IoT) has led to a surge in investment and startup activity. In Cyprus, the tech sector has become an important driver of job creation and innovation. The country has a well-educated workforce, a favourable business environment, a best-in-class telecommunications infrastructure, and a strategic location between Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. All of these have helped attract investment and talent to the sector which, in Cyprus, may be relatively small compared to other countries but it is growing rapidly, with new startups and established companies alike contributing to its development. The sector is diverse, encompassing software development, fintech, ecommerce, and digital marketing. One of the key differentiators of the tech sector in Cyprus is its focus on innovation and collaboration. The Government has launched several initiatives to support its growth, including funding research and development, promoting entrepreneurship, and establishing partnerships with universities and research institutions. Looking forward, the tech sector both globally and locally is expected to continue its rapid growth, driven by advancements in emerging technologies and the increasing demand for digital solutions across industries. However, it will become even more important to consider the potential impact of these advancements on society, including issues such as privacy, security, and job displacement.

Let’s get back to basics. Why, when and why was TechIsland formed?

A.G.: TechIsland was founded in spring 2021 to provide a unified voice for the industry in a dialogue with the government. By May this year, it had over 260 member companies, which employed over 20,000 people in Cyprus and more than 41,000 in other countries. By bringing together diverse companies from the tech sector, we can advocate for policies and regulations that support innovation, investment and growth in the industry. Beyond that, TechIsland can turn Cyprus into a world-class destination for talent. As technology evolves, Cyprus needs to keep pace with rapid changes if it is to stay competitive in the global marketplace. By providing a platform for collaboration and knowledge-sharing among industry players, our organisation can promote entrepreneurship and innovation by providing training, mentoring, and funding opportunities for startups and small businesses.

What are the benefits to companies joining TechIsland?

A.N.: TechIsland has a comprehensive, targeted and personalised membership model, offering various benefits based on the level of each member, including community engagement, networking events, assistance on relocation issues, educational workshops, CSR opportunities, industry news and updates and more. Ultimately, the Membership Engagement Program is designed to provide members with the resources and support they need to grow their business, stay informed, and build valuable connections. It is important to note that, through their TechIsland membership, tech companies become part of a strong, inclusive and integrated community and can have a voice in discussions on key industry issues, working together to further develop a booming sector for the benefit of the local economy and Cyprus as a whole. We strive for diversity and to have member companies of different sizes and business models, with local and international operations, so that our voice is truly representative of the sector.

Finally, where do you see TechIsland in five years? Are there any immediate plans you can reveal to us?

A.G.: I believe that TechIsland has a critical role to play in raising awareness of opportunities and growth in the tech sector in Cyprus. In the next five years, I hope the organisation will become more integrated, collaborative and innovative to achieve its goals. The immediate plan is to continue collaborating with the Government to bring greater effectiveness to the tech sector.

The TechIsland Awards are supported by: Gold Sponsor, Unlimit, Sponsor of Awards, Char. Pilakoutas Group, Silver Sponsors bbf and payabl., Bronze Sponsors Asbis Enterprises PLC and Bank of Cyprus, Ecosystem Partner PwC Cyprus, Event Supporter TikTok, Community Partner the Cyprus Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Hospitality Partner Parklane Resort & Spa, and Media Partner IMH.

A version of this interview first appeared in the May edition of GOLD magazine. Click here to view it.

Clicker here to learn more about the TechIsland Awards.

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