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Greece on Focus: Follow the Evolution of the Local Ecosystem in 5 Key Facts

Map and the Greek flag
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Unicorns are nowhere to be found in Greek mythology. However, two of them were built in the Greek startup ecosystem, which continues to expand, despite its harsh journey through the 2008 financial crisis, while still catching up with the European economic market. 

Historically and culturally, Greece is a country of innovation, creativity, and invention rooted in its core identity. This is also reflected in the entrepreneurial scene, posing more and more opportunities locally and internationally. 

“What is really interesting, though, is that Greek entrepreneurs are resilient. Additionally, the communities supporting the Greek ecosystem are larger, more active, and more outgoing than at any time in at least the last 10 years”, said Angeliki Pittarokoili, marketing and communications director at Endeavor Greece.

The Recursive prepared an overview of the Greek startup ecosystem. Join us in the lines below!

 

The Startup Scene in Greece: A Brief Introduction

Going back to almost a quarter of a decade ago, Greece made its first steps towards the tech scene with companies such as Viva Wallet. A couple of years later, TANEO, the Sovereign Fund-of-Funds, was established (becoming part of Hellenic Development Bank later on), and the ball started rolling. Greek universities have been a foundational base for the development of the startup landscape, licensing agreements between spinouts, their investors, and universities. The local VC Uni.Fund, announced its €50 million fund last year, with a specific aim to support university spinouts and startups across Europe.

The Greek startup ecosystem was brought to attention during the financial crisis and it has been growing ever since. Over the last ten years, the country has become a hub for startups in different sectors, including AI, transportation, energy, and tourism, attracting investors from all over. Greece has 2 cities in the top 1K startup city ranking by StartupBlink.

Currently, Greece is estimated to have around 170 active startups per 1M of population, which makes more than 1.8K active ventures. Currently, the most preferred sectors for investors are RetailTech, AI, and AgriTech. 

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Greece’s Investor’s Landscape

In the last five years, the country successfully developed a strong startup funding infrastructure. EquiFund and JEREMIE played key roles in the first waves of Greek venture capital funds, leading to many funding rounds and exits for Greek startups. The first unicorns also came along with companies such as PeopleCert, creating and delivering market-leading Business, IT, and language exams, and VivaWallet, a cloud-based Neobank. 

Greece has a growing number of venture capital firms (currently 21 according to the latest Foundation report), angel investors, and crowdfunding platforms that fund startups at various stages of development. 

In 2023, over 70 companies secured funding estimated to be more than €485M euros. The Hellenic Development Bank and the Greek Investment Fund are also actively investing in startups, providing access to capital for entrepreneurs.

International venture capital (VC) and private equity (PE) firms have actively engaged in funding Greece-originated enterprises. This trend is not just a silver lining but a robust testament to the maturity and resilience of our venture market. The sustained interest of international players in Greek startups underscores the global recognition of the innovation and potential inherent in our local market”, shares Dimitris Kalavros-Gousiou, VC Investor & Entrepreneur, co-founder of Found.ation.

 

Startup Funding in 2023

Despite the economic challenges in recent years, the Greek startup ecosystem maintains a strong investment flow, despite the decrease of 24.5% in 2023. Series A and B stages were predominant, showcasing the resilience of the tech and innovation sector. Moreover, Greece was the country that contributed to almost 40% of the top 20 venture capital deals in 2023 in Eastern Europe, dedicating €351.8M to various companies.

 

The Value of the Greek Ecosystem

The estimated value of the Greek startup ecosystem has been positioned at $8.2B in 2024, marking Greece as a leader in venture funding within the SouthEast European region. 

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“Greece has certainly played a key role in this (ecosystem)  progress – besides the unicorn success stories of Viva Wallet and PeopleCert, we’re seeing a number of Greek venture-backed companies on a high-growth trajectory – Blueground, FlexCar, Spotawheel, Byrd, and Plum to name just a few”, shared Etien Yovchev, co-founder and CGO of The Recursive. 

Greece has cultivated a thriving and competitive environment for startups, elevating its status as a key player in the European entrepreneurial landscape: 

  • Science Parks & Technology Transfer

Technology Parks, serving as business incubators for startups affiliated with a university, contribute to economic growth by increasing the level of productivity of companies moving there. Some of the most renowned ones include Lefkippos Tech Park, providing a business incubator and accelerator services within an academic collaborative environment, as well as Thessaloniki Innovation & Technology Center, a private sector initiative, backed by the Hellenic government.

 

  • Multinational R&D Centers in the country

The Global Center for Digital Innovation (CDI) of Pfizer in Thessaloniki aims to digitize drug discovery and development. They partner with the Centre For Research & Technology Hellas (CERTH) on the development of an intelligent agent leveraging Machine Learning and Natural Language Processing (NLP). Throughout 2022, they partnered with the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki (on quantum computing), the University of Patras (on voice-based diagnostics), and the University of Ioannina (on fact-checking for health news).

Ernst & Young (EY) Center of Excellence for Data, Analytics & AI in cooperation with the Demokritos National Center for Scientific Research and its Software and Knowledge Engineering Laboratory in Athens. 

 

  • Strong diaspora

Startups founded by members of the Greek diaspora are valued at over $100 billion, a figure ten times greater than the combined value of startups based in Greece, according to the Tech Report of 2023 by Endeavour Greece

Alex Alexakis, an investor at the Greek fund Marathon VC shared for The Recursive that the “Greek diaspora has a high density of AI scientists and engineers with a presence in the top AI conferences (NeurIPS, ICML, etc) and big tech companies worldwide. Some of them have already returned to the country to build world-class technology products.”

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https://therecursive.com/author/teodoraatanasova/

Teodora Atanasova is a News Editor at The Recursive. She covers everything around funding rounds, exits, startups expanding to international markets, big tech opening R&D in CEE, meaningful for the ecosystem partnerships.