Athens as a maritime start-up hotbed

As is evident from the stands at the exhibition halls at Posidonia this week, Greek entrepreneurs are among the world leaders when it comes to maritime start-ups. Continuing extracts from this week’s newly published Mediterranean Hubs magazine printed by Splash and distributed at Posidonia, today’s instalment focuses on the local start-up scene.

Everyone, from shipowners and charterers to cargo owners and lenders, is preparing for a low-carbon future, with the widespread adoption of zero-carbon fuels expected over the next decade. In support of this transition, ongoing digitalisation, including ports and the supply chain, will drive efficiency. Maritime cities and clusters will play a leading role in the green shift, with new business models driving the transition, as they develop unique strategies to deal with these global transformations.

Cities compete to attract the best tech start-ups and the most talented people in today’s world, particularly in the maritime industry. In terms of how Athens is evolving as a breeding ground for groundbreaking innovations supported by cutting-edge technologies that are set to transform shipping, industry experts suggest the city is and will continue to be one of the leading maritime centres in the world.

Tech is a tool, not an end in itself

With the support of the Hellenic Shipping Chamber and the Chamber of Commerce of Piraeus in cooperation with the maritime cluster, the municipality, and Piraeus University there are competitions and investments by funds and shipping companies to maritime tech start-ups that have successfully been operating for some years in Athens and Piraeus, thereby attracting more interest with the goal of leveraging the vast wealth of experience and knowledge from the existing maritime market.

Mike Konstantinidis, CEO of Greece’s METIS Cyberspace Technology, claims the Greek start-up scene is vibrant and thriving, and all the signs suggest that it will continue to flourish in the years ahead. “Given the importance of the local shipping ecosystem, we are certain to see some highly promising maritime technology-focused initiatives attracting worldwide interest in the near future. I am confident that the leading reputation of the Greek shipping community will soon be accompanied by more widespread awareness of the local technology sector,” he asserts.

Simon Ward from Ursa Shipbrokers also sees many tech start-ups in Athens tied into the actual ships and the business of shipping. “It is true innovation rather than top-down or tech-driven only. They realise that tech is a tool, not an end in itself,” he says.

Harry Vafias, CEO of StealthGas, says most shipowners are generally conservative old-styled businessmen but they are slowly realising that they have to embrace technology in order to compete internationally. “We have seen lately more and more Greek start-ups making their first rounds around Athens. The city is also giving grants for small revolutionary start-ups which also seems to help,” Vafias tells Splash.

Sustainability has long been on the radar of the maritime community, driven by a desire to reduce the industry’s carbon footprint, and digital technologies can play a critical role in assisting the sector in meeting the International Maritime Organization’s looming milestone deadlines.

This year’s international shipping exhibition Posidonia is expected to see a huge number of tech start-ups from around the world to showcase their solutions and platforms.

“The success of Posidonia demonstrates the interest and potential for both Athens and Greece – attracting as it does a worldwide audience for business discussions and networking,” says Nicholas Georgiou, the CEO of Lomar Shipping.

He stresses that Athens has to continue to innovate with new technologies and services – not only to maintain a competitive edge but also to retain its best and brightest people. Despite being based in the UK, Lomar has together with Libra, supported community interests through its internship and mentoring programmes, and is looking to invest directly in tech start-ups.

Across the Mediterranean maritime hubs are developing, offering a full range of services and establishing themselves at shipping’s top table. Splash identified the five leading maritime capitals in the region – Athens, Genoa Limassol, Marseille and Monaco – and assigned correspondents to report on their individual strengths for a special glossy magazine. Splash readers can access the full magazine online by clicking here.


Splash is Asia Shipping Media’s flagship title offering timely, informed and global news from the maritime industry 24/7.
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