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Startup Cities in SEE: Who Is Who In The Emerging Athens Ecosystem

Startup Cities in SEE: Who Is Who In The Emerging Athens Ecosystem, TheRecursive.com
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The Greek startup ecosystem is one of the most active in the Southeast Europe (SEE) region, with Athens winning an award for European Capital of Innovation in 2018. Next to emerging local tech ventures, an increasing number of international investors such as Microsoft and AWS are also opening R&D hubs in the country. 

In the past few years the ecosystem has further expanded and developed. 2021 saw more than 40 follow-on investments in the Greek startup ecosystem.  The country also claimed its first two unicorns, with the values of cloud-based European payment services provider Viva Wallet and PeopleCert, a company that certifies professional and language skills, already surpassing $1B valuations. 

Additionally, Blueground, a Greek PropTech startup that offers short-term furnished apartment rentals, is also getting closer to becoming a unicorn. It was also a great year for acquisitions, as six Greek startups made significant exits.

The annual Startups in Greece 2021/2022: Venture Financing report makes a great overview of all key players in the Greek startup ecosystem – ventures, investors, corporate innovators, accelerators, incubators, coworking spaces, and other supporting organizations. We used the report, delivered by Found.ation and EIT Digital and supported by HDBI, to update our list we first published last year. Check all players below and if you want to dive deep into the big picture trends check out the report that can be downloaded from the link above. 

Startup Cities in SEE: Who Is Who In The Emerging Athens Ecosystem, TheRecursive.com

Notable startups in 2021

Funding

Blueground – After raising $140M in a Series C round led by existing investor Laurence Tosi’s WestCap Group, the Greek proptech company is now valued at $750M.

Viva Wallet – Before JP Morgan’s investment, the Greek cloud-based neobank had a major funding event in 2021 as well – a $80M funding round joined by Tencent, EBRD, and Breyer Capital.

Flexcar –  a leasing tech company that enables customers to rent cars via subscription, in 2021 the company announced a $50M Series B.

Hellas Direct is a digital-first, full-stack insurance company providing car and house insurance, raising $38M in funding round supported by the EBRD.

LearnWorlds is an easy-to-use and reliable training solution for individuals and enterprises, aimed at training employees and associates. In 2021, the company announced a $32M investment.

Plum –  a Greek fintech startup that develops personal savings assistant solutions, last year the company closed a $24M Series A round.

BYRD is an international e-commerce fulfillment network that gives online shops access to a scalable and powerful logistics solution. Last year the company announced an $18M funding round.

Causaly is an AI for Biomedical Cause & Effect discovery that enables researchers and decision-makers to quickly find causal evidence and generate insights from vast amounts of documents. In 2021 it raised $17M to accelerate its biomedical research.

Netdata – an infrastructure monitoring platform that helps with the identification of slowdowns and anomalies. To date, Netdata has received investments of $31M and its last $14.2M round was led by Bessemer Venture Partners.

Intelligencia applies predictive analytics to estimate the probability of success for a clinical trial and optimize its design before it even starts. In 2021 it raised  $12M in Series A round led by European health tech investor MTIP.

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Hack the Box is an online platform that allows users to test their penetration testing skills and exchange ideas and methodologies with thousands of people in the security field. It raised a $10.6M Series A round in 2021.

Augmenta –  has built an AI-based augmented farming solution. It attracted an $8M investment in 2021.

Key Exits

Niometrics is a network analytics company that provides solutions for Communications Service Providers. In 2021, the company was acquired by Mobileum.

Lenses.io delivers a DataOps portal for all streaming applications and data – blending multiple technologies such as Apache Kafka and Kubernetes. Following its Series A funding, Lenses.io was acquired in 2021 by German enterprise software giant Celonis.

Moosend is an email marketing service that helps ease the burden of sending your email campaigns. In 2021, Moosend was acquired by US-based Sitecore.

2022 is already looking strong

Accusonus – is a startup innovating in the digital audio technology space. As of  2019, the company has fundraised a total of $3.6M, and was acquired by Meta, as announced in mid February 2022. 

Pollfish –  has built a hybrid service survey platform that carries out surveys online and via mobile applications. In early 2022, the company was acquired by US-based Prodege.

Startup Cities in SEE: Who Is Who In The Emerging Athens Ecosystem, TheRecursive.com

Investment landscape

EquiFund is a fund of funds initiative created in late 2017 in cooperation with the European Investment Fund (EIF), combining public and EU with private funds. In the five years since it was established, it has made more than €210M available to Greek startups and played a key role in the establishment of 6 VC funds.

The Hellenic Development Bank of Investments (HDBI), established in 2000 (formerly named TANEO), helped kick-start the VC market in Greece and has helped create the first round of fund managers. It currently manages public investment resources amounting to €1.5B and is expected to deeply affect the startup ecosystem in the next few years.

Business Angel’s Co-Investment Equity instrument, a financing mechanism that utilizes the resources reimbursed from the initial implementation of the JEREMIE Funding Agreement in Greece (the predecessor of EquiFund).

Phaistos (5G), an initiative managed by 5G Ventures SA, that invests in businesses conducting research and/or developing products and services operating on 5G infrastructures

Big Pi Ventures – The Big Pi Ventures is an investment fund targeting the (B2B) segment, focusing on deep-tech and science-based innovation. Founded in 2018, the fund is generally looking into research-based projects and companies and manages €50M. Until November 2021, BigPi invested around €30M in 22 companies.

Marathon VC – targeting SMEs who develop B2B products, the firm has invested its €32M fund in 10 companies and at the end of 2021 announced a second €40M fund, which in early 2022 grew to €70M.

Metavallon VC – The fund manages €32M and has an affinity targeting the Business to Business (B2B) segment, focusing on the technology. It is a member of the Silicon Valley-based Draper Venture Network that has previously participated in historic investments including Tesla, Skype, and other leading innovators.

Uni.Fund – The fund manages  €30M and is making investments in the broad technology sector, particularly in the R&D and Tech space.

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Velocity.Partners VC, which manages €24M, is an acceleration fund with an emphasis on technology-oriented startups in the B2B, SaaS, and IoT industries.  

VentureFriends is currently closing its third fund targeting €100M in investment capacity. Sectors of interest remain the same – proptech, fintech, traveltech as well as marketplaces and SaaS companies.

Digital innovation hubs

Athena Research Center is a digital innovation hub aiming to support research and startups or spin-offs in Informatics and Computational Sciences.

The Greek Flagship Innovation Hub is another initiative that will aim to house research centers and startups that aim to become the focal point of innovation in Greece. 

Athens Digital Lab is a municipal innovation hub on a mission to support advanced IoT solutions aiming to address some of the biggest challenges of the city.

Technology Park Lefkippos is a business and technology campus located in Athens, Greece, as a unit of NCSR Demokritos.

Strategic European and international partnerships

Amazon Web Services (AWS), the largest provider of on-demand software services and cloud computing power, opened its first office in Athens, as part of AWS’s ongoing investment in Greece.

Oracle for Startups is a global initiative by Oracle to support entrepreneurship and develop innovative ecosystems.

The European Space Agency’s Business Incubation Center (ESA BIC) opened an office in Greece in March 2021.

Supporting ecosystem organizations

Endeavor Greece – Endeavor launched its first European office in Greece back in 2012, the network helps local entrepreneurs grow and create jobs.

Crowdpolicy – implements different open innovation initiatives, hackathons, and acceleration programs, currently collaborating with Bulgarian VC Eleven Ventures on the Visa Innovation Program.

StartupGreece – a non-profit, non-governmental organization aiming to boost entrepreneurship in Greece and abroad, focusing on supporting the startup and innovation ecosystem by building a global network.

Think Biz, the first student entrepreneurship organization club in Greece that organizes the Code Biz coding competition.

Athens Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation (ACEIN) –  part of the Athens University of Economics and Business, it is focused on supporting early-stage teams.

Athens Digital Lab – a smart city research and development lab.

EGG Enter Grow Go – a Eurobank-supported incubator and accelerator.

Microsoft Innovation Center – an incubator and startup events space in Athens.

Startup Cities in SEE: Who Is Who In The Emerging Athens Ecosystem, TheRecursive.com

Accelerators and incubators

Archimedes – National & Kapodistrian University of Athens The Business Accelerator aims to promote entrepreneurship among members of the academic community. It is addressed to business groups of which at least one member is also a member of the university community.

Be Finnovative is a business acceleration program that helps teams and businesses develop ideas, technological solutions and new companies in the field of fintech, organized by the National Bank of Greece.

Business accelerator – Innovathens is a three-month business enhancement program, with its main goal being the development of startups and the companies involved in order to claim a place in the innovation ecosystem of the city, the Greek and the international market.

Capsulet Accelerator is an initiative by the Hellenic Chamber of Hotels. It is the first travel and hospitality accelerator for startups in Greece, and it connects the leaders of the industry with young entrepreneurs.

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Emphasis – Cardlink is a digital “accelerator” for innovative ideas, which provides support in the areas of expertise, organization, administration, management, and promotion, so that they can be implemented as quickly and efficiently as possible.

EIT Climate develops Greece’s potential for innovative solutions in CleanTech, WaterTech and Circular Economy.

Excelixi is Piraeus’s Bank Group Support of sustainable entrepreneurship in Greece.

Found.ation Spark is an early-stage acceleration program aiming at bridging the gap between the stage that startups are at when graduating from incubation programs and the stage they need to be in order to receive funding from investors.

Founderhood is a virtual acceleration program for newly-found tech startups.

Foundit is an entrepreneurship program that provides the youth the necessary practical knowledge, skills and support to explore entrepreneurship and set up their own businesses.

Greek Startup Universe is an 8-week online program exclusively for Greek founders globally.

Ignite Ideas, by Nestle Greece is an accelerator program for startups to implement their idea (Proof-of-Concept) within 3 months.

Imagine Program is a program of INTERAMERICAN for the submission, incubating and accelerating of innovative ideas.

Lab.40 is an accelerator from the Drama Chamber of Commerce & Industry.

Coworking spaces 

The Cube – located in Athens, this co-working space is still the biggest one in the country.

Found.ation is merging the concepts of a startup hub, a digital transformation accelerator for corporations and a tech education hive.

Impact Hub Athens – a co-working space and an incubator, Impact Hub is part of Impact Hub Global Network, while its focus is on social-entrepreneurship.

Stone Soup –  a space in Athens whose vision is to emphasize community cooperation.

Romantso – apart from being one of the creative entrepreneurial hubs in Greece, the co-working space is also a cultural center.

LUDD is a makerspace / fablab located in Athens, and it is a platform where the latest developments in open design, prototyping and fabrication technology, along with shared expertise, serve as the basis for the community to connect, collaborate, and accelerate local innovation.

Quality Brands Spaces is based in the city of Athens and provides innovative, flexible business office solutions for entrepreneurs, businesses and corporate users.

Reelhub is located in one of the most picturesque neighborhoods of Athens: Akadimia Platonos.

Regus Athens is located in Maroussi, Athens and is a part of the global network of Regus Coworking.

Selina Theatrou is located in Omonoia, Athens, as a nomadic hospitality hub with a jazzy new aesthetic, perfect for digital nomads.

theSwitch is a fully equipped professional coworking venue in the historical center with Acropolis’ view.

Tzaferi 16 is a Boutique office & event space in Athens.

Prelab Creative Space is a Creative Space, FabLab, Workshop Hosting, Coworking space and Designer shop in Athens.

ViOS Coworking is located in Athens and offers rented offices designed to meet the WELL Building Standard, which ensures health and wellbeing in the workplace.

Lists are never complete, if you’re part of the Athens startup ecosystem, fill in this form and we’ll add your organization to the listicle as soon as possible.

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