Greek Business File, September-October 2020, No 127

by Nikos Efthymiadis

 

Building the infrastructure for mega-projects

Thess INTEC is a 4th generation science & technology park, bringing together academia, research, high-tech industries, facilities and geopolitical location. It is the first large-scale science and technology infrastructure in Greece, and interest from international investors is already growing. It has already attracted more than 70 existing successful businesses and 17 academic research units to cooperate in 6 innovative mega projects. Business File asked the coordinator of that ambitious project, Nikos Efthymiadis, to describe his vision

 

 

Thessaloniki International Technology Center – Thess INTEC is an Industry/Business-driven initiative of public interest that aiming to achieve overall actual productivity growth, by increasing its competitiveness within the global market.

Its concept is based on a holistic approach for innovation in domains of research excellence and dynamic businesses in Greece and the broader region.

Thess INTEC aims to be a science and technology infrastructure that will attract co-location and synergies among internationally acclaimed academic and research human capital and mature regional enterprises that are competitive worldwide. It will include state-of-the-art industry and research collaboration lab platforms, land spaces for further development, as well as a fully equipped incubator for startups and spin-offs, a modern business conference hall and several green and leisure facilities.

Thessaloniki has been selected as the best location for Thess INTEC. The city combines the potential of approximately 120,000 university students, academics and researchers, together with a critical mass of internationally oriented enterprises that already have their own R&D facilities and are promoting innovation in their own production lines.

Thess INTEC’s model of business–academia cooperation on selected fields of innovation will act as a catalyst for changing the concept of how Greece should implement an immediate strategy for its industrial reconstruction and will attempt to contain its current brain-drain phenomenon that seriously damages its future social and economic potential. It will also aim to attract foreign investors (companies,funds, universities, research centers etc.) that will also benefit from bein established along existing structures, within Thess INTEC.

An in-depth Feasibility and Sustainability Study has already been carried out by the Technology Park of Thessaloniki (T.T.P.) with the assistance of several local and international experts and consultancy companies, where a huge gap of a large-scale science and technology infrastructure in Greece is clearly documented. Furthermore, the study has already attracted 70 existing successful businesses and 17 academic/research units, all having signed letters of Engagement with each other, to cooperate within the following 6 innovation MEGA Projects and relocate in Thess INTEC:

❱ MP1: Advanced Materials and Manufacturing Processes

❱ MP2: Flexible Organic Nanotechnology Applications

❱ MP3: Artificial Intelligence and Simulation Applications

❱ MP4: Clean Energy Innovation Solutions

❱ MP5: Competence Center for Business & Logistics Challenges

❱ MP6: Future Mobility Applications

 

Future phases will include: Agrotechnology, IT and Health Sciences Thess INTEC will be the very first largescale science and technology infrastructure in Greece and will be based on the experience of T.T.P. and the best practices and standards of some 366 similar technology infrastructures spread all around Europe.

According to Thess INTEC’s feasibility study, a total of 220,000m2 of land will be assigned for buildings, while there will be approximately 360,000m2 of green and lake environment. There will be 4 phases of Thess INTEC development:

 

Phase A: 10% of total area granted with approximately 22,000m2 built area

Initial development of basic infrastructures and first 8 buildings for laboratories, offices, an incubator building and a conference center. (Total budget to completion of Phase A: €58M + VAT)

 

Phases B, C and D

Thess INTEC is expected to attract a selected variety of private and institutional investments in research and technology development, which will be self-financed based on international funding terms and conditions. Apart from the organizational, experience and credibility aspects that are obviously essential, Thess INTEC’s potential success is based on its ability to attract those enterprises and academic/research units that have excellence and growth potential on an international level. It is therefore fundamental that Thess INTEC’s initial “Phase A” infrastructure is created at the lowest possible cost with the highest possible incentives for its tenants.

The funding model of Phase A will be based on a combination of state participation that has already been granted (land use) suitable long-term and lowcost European funds and most importantly, on one or more grants, kindly offered by local or international foundations and institutions. There have been advanced negotiations on the above funding model.

 

Notes:

Thess INTEC’s project initiator and developer is a non-profit company Thess INTEC S.A. that has been established by private (58%) and public (42%) partners and donors that have contributed the seed capital required to complete and issue all the necessary state permissions to build and develop the project. Thess INTEC’s Board of Directors consists of 11 acclaimed personalities originating from private sector enterprises (7) and public institutions (4 members).

Thess INTEC has the full support of the current Greek government that has established 3 specific laws clearly defining the project’s development process, its non-profit status and the tax advantages of the project’s funding contributors.

Thess INTEC has been granted 76 hectares of state prime land near Thessaloniki’s airport for further leasing for a period of 99 years.

All enterprises and/or research units co-located within Thess INTEC will be subject to an admission selection process and will be paying a very competitive rent for the facilities they use. However, they will run autonomously and, of course, for their own economic growth and profit.