CONTEST
INNOVATION

Piraeus is an important urban pole and the center of a productive system . It is an international portal of trade and commerce, as the port of Piraeus occupies an important position worldwide in the handling of containers and is one of the largest cruise ports in Europe. Piraeus is a developed cluster of maritime economy, with global connections, where a significant number of companies and organizations are involved in the country's maritime activity. The "Piraeus" identity of its inhabitants, which is intertwined with the sea and its activities, is a development advantage of the area related to social capital, human resources and blue entrepreneurship.

However, Piraeus has been significantly affected by the crisis (unemployment, reduction of business activity, impoverishment, etc.) and the risk of worsening of the already burdened social conditions from the continuation of the economic crisis is significant. In addition, the low degree of penetration of innovation in the enterprises of the Blue Economy, is a parameter that is problematic, as it is a key component of Blue Growth.

Therefore, the search for investment outlets in the region is an urgent need and the Blue Economy can be the spearhead of the economic revitalization of Piraeus. A key challenge, then, is to encourage blue entrepreneurship and promote innovative business ideas related to the Blue Economy and the values of sustainable entrepreneurship, with significant socio-economic benefits for the city of Piraeus.

In this context, the Municipality of Piraeus undertook a set of actions to support blue entrepreneurship in Piraeus, which have been implemented since 2014 and include the Strategy for Blue Growth , the BlueGrowth innovation competition, the BluAct network , two European programs and the blue / lab , the Center for Business Innovation for Blue Growth. The actions aim to create new and sustainable businesses in the Blue Economy, to create new jobs and to promote a new innovative business ecosystem.

The innovative nature of the action plan is clearly present from the design phase to the implementation phase. The BlueGrowth competition was originally designed and implemented in collaboration with the public and private sectors, which highlights the participation and strengthens the commitment of different actors to support its implementation.

The human ecosystem (Marinescape) that has been created is one of the most important advantages of the action plan. It consists of an extensive network of quadruple helix bodies (public sector, companies, academic-research bodies, "civil society"), which a. promotes the ongoing dialogue on the issues of the Blue Economy, b. contributes to the creation of communication channels between the actors that play an important role in local development, c. supports, guides and monitors the action plan through the participation of its representatives in an Advisory Committee, d. provides mentors in the business hatching stage.

The BlueGrowth competition is implemented in 2 phases . The first phase concerns the conduct of the competition, which includes the publication of an invitation, the submission and evaluation of the candidates, the preparation of a workshop for the selected business groups to present their idea at Demo Day, the Demo Day (day of the official competition) during which the candidates are evaluated by the members of the Advisory Committee, by representatives of Marinescape and the other attendees. The best business ideas (up to 15) are awarded and promoted in the hatching program. The second phase concerns the hatching program where business services (coaching, coaching) are provided to the awarded teams that start from the creation or improvement of the business plan to the establishment of a company, in the context of lectures and workshops in various thematic units. At the same time, the networking of business ideas is promoted in order to further mature and finance them.

The success of the competition so far with its significant results, has led the Municipality of Piraeus to seek opportunities to expand, promote and further strengthen the action plan.

This opportunity was provided in part through the URBACT program , with the creation of the BlueGrowth transmission network as an award-winning good practice in other European cities.

But the fact that research, education and innovation are admittedly the triptych that changes the structures of entrepreneurship in the 21st century and promises to upgrade the business by adapting it to the needs of the 4th industrial revolution, makes the need for further penetration of competition more urgent. in the research and educational community.

Therefore, the need to provide specialized advice on business activities is considered imperative. The undertaking of the organization of the competition by the University of Piraeus contributes in this direction, as it can utilize the knowledge produced in the research centers of Greek Universities and will contribute, among other things, to the change of mentality in relation to the students. Because technology and interconnection have now advanced so much that even a third-year student can build his own business as long as he has the right guidance and tools.

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