Thessaloniki: Hub of the future with the largest technology park in the Balkans

It is expected that new, quality and well-paid jobs will be produced, while it will contribute decisively to the reversal of the brain drain

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The government has recently been in the phase of starting the most important research and innovation project in Greece, which is the creation of Thess INTEC in Thessaloniki, implementing a project that will upgrade Thessaloniki and more broadly Northern Greece. Let's take the things from the beginning. It was the beginning of 2020 when Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis tasked the Deputy Minister of Development and Investments Christos Dimas to untangle the project that for a long time seemed abandoned. And many steps forward were indeed made, enabling Thessaloniki to be ready to host the largest technology park in the Balkans.

What is Thess INTEC

The first step that needed to be taken was to develop an unused 760-acre plot of land in Thermaikos Municipality in Thessaloniki, in order for the park to have its own space and be able to develop into what the government envisioned: a state-of-the-art technology park and start-up hub in Southeast Europe. Immediately after, the establishment of the company Thess INTEC S.A. was legislated. and its public benefit and non-profit character was foreseen, while at the same time a series of tax incentives were established for donations related to the specific project. The next step was to set up the Thess INTEC SA statute, according to which 58% private individuals and 42% public bodies participate. To date, more than 70 important and innovative companies in the country and some from abroad, as well as universities and research centers, have signed a memorandum of cooperation (MoU) with Thess INTEC, while the project was included in the Recovery Fund and will be financed with approximately 35 million euros , giving flesh and bones to a key vision of the prime minister. The goal, as Deputy Minister Mr. Dimas says, is to develop state-of-the-art infrastructure with 4th generation technologies, such as industrial laboratories, machinery, computer facilities, a large-scale incubator and accelerator, flexible office spaces, collaboration and networking spaces, an education and leisure theme park, conference center, cycle paths and green spaces, which will make Thess INTEC a natural space of innovation, similar to those of modern cities abroad.

Among other things, the project includes the expansion and upgrading of EKETA (National Center for Research and Technological Development) and its five institutes, with the construction of new high-energy-efficient buildings and cutting-edge vertical research infrastructures, with state-of-the-art scientific equipment, with the president and CEO of the technology park Nikos Efthimiadis to have a pivotal role in the project.

The complex of buildings will include all five institutes of EKETA.

New job positions

All of the above are in the first phase of implementation, with the park being delivered to use in 2024 – in its first phase – and in 2026 being fully completed. At Megaros Maximos, they focus on the fact that with the completion of the project, new, quality and well-paid jobs are expected to be created, while it will contribute decisively to reversing the brain drain.

Finally, it is noted that, among other things, in the park and in particular in the Innovation Cell and The Factory infrastructures, open spaces for specialized research laboratories and offices of the Institute of Chemical Processes Energy Resources (IDEP) will be created, while The Factory will also function as a place to host start-ups and other pilot units. In addition, the New nearly zero-footprint building with its laboratories will contribute to the research of the Institute of Sustainable Mobility and Transport Networks (IMET), in the field of smart mobility. The infrastructure complex of the Institute of Bio-Economy and Agricultural Technology IBO-HiVe (iBO-Hub) and i-Hectare (i-ha) will be an example of vertical development for the best possible response to local challenges. On the other hand, the iBO-Tech infrastructure will host the Agro-Analytics Department, which will be active in the fields of big data analysis. Thess INTEC is also expected to attract companies that invest in research and development (RD), technocrats from research centers and universities, and start-ups. All of this will form an innovation ecosystem in the wider area of ​​Thessaloniki, with the ultimate goal of transforming it into a technological hub of the Balkans and Southeastern Europe.

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