The first step toward the redevelopment of the disused XRO.PEI industrial plant to create the first Greek “Innovation Polity” – or innovation hub – was taken on Wednesday in the presence of Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis.
“All major capitals have a similar innovation hub and the space here lends itself for this, both due to its history and due to its geography and due to its position. I believe that in some years, when we compare what there was and what is going to be created, we will have every reason to be satisfied that we pressed ahead so quickly with this flagship effort in the area of innovation, which is essentially the bridge that our country must cross in order to conquer the future,” Mitsotakis said.
The fact that this space in the heart of Athens had remained essentially abandoned for the past 40 years was a reflection of the Greek state’s inability to manage its property assets, he added, and congratulated the development ministry and especially the deputy minister and general secretary for the speed in getting the project underway.
The process began on Wednesday with the publication of the first volume of the tender and the start of the procedure to select a contractor, for the conversion of the old plant via a Public and Private-Sector Partnership (PPP) into a space that will house research centres and start-ups, enabling an “unobstructed osmosis” of ideas between science and innovative enterprises.
The development ministry’s business plan envisages an investment of 100 million euros that will help create 2,000 jobs. The creation of the new hub has the strategic goal of boosting the Greek economy and assisting its transition to a different production model, as well as helping promote Greece as a destination for innovation in southeastern Europe. It will also help increase employment in highly specialised areas and thus in reversing brain drain, while also encouraging the development of start-ups that can generate high added value.
The prime minister was given a tour of the premises by Deputy Development and Investments Minister Christos Dimas, who said the aim was to retain some of the features and historic buildings of the site that are linked to the history of Greece’s industrial development.
The site, covering 17,900 square metres, has been disused since the plant ceased operating in the 1980s, after nearly a century of production. The plan to reclaim it for current use was drawn up in less than 1.5 years.
Development and Investments Minister Adonis Georgiadis thanked the prime minister for his presence, as well as US Ambassador to Greece Geoffrey Pyatt, and noting that several US firms had expressed an interest in coming to Greece to invest.
Pyatt highlighted the interest sparked in the US by the development of the Greek start-up sector in 2020 and said he was greatly excited by the prospect of building up Greek-US cooperation further through this centre.
“We have the experience, having done the same thing in Chicago, Los Angeles and along the length of the United States. This is an amazing base, while we now have true momentum,” Pyatt said.