Cyprus Startup Manifesto
We, the startups, innovative enterprises and startup ecosystem of Cyprus, support, endorse and highlight the European Startup Manifesto (www.startupmanifesto.eu), A manifesto for entrepreneurship and innovation to empower growth in the EU, an Initiative of Startup Europe.
Economic conditions in Europe remain hugely challenging and in the wake of today’s rapid technological advancement, where digital transformation is growing exponentially, we have a great opportunity to improve the lives of millions of people by providing them with new jobs, new skills and renewed hope for a better future.
According to research from the Boston Consulting Group the Internet Economy (digital economy) in the developed markets of the G-20 is forecast to grow at an annual rate of 8 percent over the next five years. In developing markets, annual growth is expected to be 18 percent. These rates far outpace traditional economic sectors. No longer confined to high-tech businesses, digital technologies are resulting in the re-imagination of every single industry, holding the promise of creating new jobs and new wealth.
This rising tide can help Europe secure its prospects for the future, helping it emerge stronger, more agile and prosperous. But further action is required to overcome a number of roadblocks that threaten to hamper progress and undermine the potential of this vibrant and thriving sector. We must ensure that we have the policies, modes of operation and the ambition to succeed. We need to address the fact that continental Europe currently doesn’t create new businesses destined for growth as well as other parts of the World or produce entrepreneurs as confident about the environment their own country provides for startups.
The days of relying on large businesses or the government for job creation are over. Many of the millions of jobs lost over the past five years will never return in their old form. Entrepreneurship, which has been the engine for growth in the United States, has not been cultivated in an effective or systematic way in Europe. To create more businesses and more startups requires more than a change in policy. It requires a change in mentality. One of the reasons why the US has been more successful than the rest of the world when it comes to entrepreneurship is because failure is a measurement of success. The more times you fail the more successful you are as seen in the eyes of the VC and Silicon Valley. Failure is part of the entrepreneurial journey and acknowledgement of failure which is then converted into successful models is a true measurement of entrepreneurship. This mentality is what is missing especially within Europe and Asia where failure is measured and seen as failure. There is no room for error.
The economic situation in Cyprus is comparatively harsher and more challenging, post March 2013 events. The country is stabilizing and recovering but it is a slow uphill process. The country has been upgraded by the rating agencies reflecting the efforts towards fiscal and financial stability. Cyprus has surpassed the Program for Economic Stability forecasts with 2% fiscal deficit in 2013, instead of 3.1% as projected. The Cypriot economy, especially in the services and tourism sectors, has demonstrated resilience, which help contain the decrease in our GDP.
Uncertainty remains though as far as internal consumption is concerned, causing concern for the public finances in a period of intense deleveraging of the private sector. Non performing Loans are calculated at 53% and the employment pressures continue. The unemployment rate has been stabilized but it is not decreasing fast enough without growth. The country’s first priority to face these challenges successfully is to make Cyprus competitive and attractive to investments.
Innovation and entrepreneurship are strong drivers of competitiveness and economic growth. An essential strategic direction that will have positive impact on the development and prosperity of our economy.
Being naturally startup minded, we, the startup and innovation ecosystem of Cyprus, believe we should not let a good crisis go to waste. The challenges our economy is facing, are an opportunity for reform in order to come back stronger, and materialize our vision to Startup Cyprus.
The startup and innovation ecosystem of Cyprus has come together, united in its efforts to support the vision to Startup Cyprus.
Our vision to Startup Cyprus
We channel our individual creativity, innovation and persistence to realize our vision for Cyprus.
We believe in the creative and disruptive power of startups and innovation. In charting our path to economic prosperity. That evangelizing entrepreneurship and startups across the board is the roadmap to take us there.
We believe in the power of the Cyprus startup community.
We are here to facilitate, help, enhance, empower, connect. Our passion, enthusiasm and persistence is culminated by our ecosystem’s impressive achievements over the last few years springboarding internationally acclaimed startup events into entrepreneurship endeavors-turn investor-backed startups that put Cyprus firmly on the global startup map and mainstreaming the startup mentality and entrepreneurship mindset.
The coming together, engagement and actions of our highly dynamic community is our passion in action making meaning and bringing positive change. Our past is our future. We stand united and committed in materializing our vision.
We, the startup community of Cyprus, are here to make things happen.
We invite you to pledge your support to the vision to Startup Cyprus.
“Accelerate Disruptive Startups”
We live in an age of accelerating technologies where we can extend the cognitive reach of our minds, the perimeter of humanness, and in this world of empowered imagination we have the ability to conjure up a delight of future possibilities, where we can select the most amazing one, and pull the present forward in order to meet those possibilities. Startup Cyprus is about helping founders accelerate their disruptive startups to “make meaning”.
The importance of startups, innovative enterprises and startup entrepreneurship is comprehensively recognized all over the world and Europe as a key driver of economic development.
The Need for Cyprus Startup Manifesto
It is extremely important to develop the appropriate ecosystem in Cyprus which will boost entrepreneurship and will ensure the sustainability and growth of startups. For startups and entrepreneurship to thrive in Cyprus, the right conditions are crucial.
The Cyprus startup and innovation ecosystem must cultivate the necessary culture and provide the appropriate tools to encourage the creation of startups, spin-offs and spin-out companies. This can be done by implementing the following important actions to ensure the development, sustainability and growth of innovative startup companies.
Drawn from the combined experience of Cypriots who were lucky enough to imagine, build, grow and support successful businesses – innovative, competitive businesses that create jobs – we have distilled the following actions which, taken together, can give Cypriot businesses the best chance of future success. We now call on entrepreneurs, investors, advisors, the government and other stakeholders across the country to engage in this dialogue and share their views on the manifesto to help move us towards the adoption of this singular digital growth plan for Cyprus.
Therefore, we, the startups, innovative enterprises, startup entrepreneurs and the startup ecosystem of Cyprus, have come together to articulate the parameters, changes, and ingredients needed to Startup Cyprus. We have come together to draft the Cyprus Startup Manifesto.
Our recommendations are:
Developing New Skills and Competences
Cultivating Entrepreneurship Culture
Availability & Attraction of talent
Government as an Enabler
Access to Capital
Mentoring and Support
Access to RDI Infrastructure
Developing Synergies and Opening Markets
Supporting Outreach Activities
Developing New Skills and Competences
To provide a model to fully engage potential founders of startups and empower students to survive and thrive in the 21st century.
There is a need to change the way children are educated in schools, from kindergarten to university. We need to help kids develop their creativity, we need to be teaching them to think critically, be responsible, make decisions, collaborate as well as work in teams. These are the vital innovation and entrepreneurship soft transversal skills that are recognized globally for the economy of today and tomorrow.
Furthermore, an enterprise culture in education establishments would greatly benefit students. It is about teaching the basics of business to the next generation. Kids should be taught how to be innovative and how they can use their innovation to startup a business in school – entrepreneurship 101 as a lesson. Teachers should be trained to provide accurate knowledge and guidance on this. The idea that something innovative and valuable can be built by people locally should be something to aspire to for everyone in the community.
Action point 1:
The education system should provide incentives towards this direction. Embrace Junior Achievement Cyprus and similar initiatives teaching entrepreneurship values in schools. Link this with Grand Coalition for Digital Skills for jobs Initiative and education reform.
Coding in Schools – Education engineering skills
We would like our children to be taught engineering skills. Programming and Technology should be initiated from the first classes. Those lessons shouldn’t be undervalued by Teachers and School Community but rather be core lessons with updated content, specific goals and educated/qualified instructors.
We expect that in the long-term these children will lead to a spirit of building and creating more things. Not all of these children would become Engineers but all will be better problem-solvers.
Creating Game-Learning Experiences – making school more relevant to the lives of students today—to nurture the natural love of learning that will engage them today and empower them tomorrow.
Action point 2:
Create learning experiences rooted in the principles of game design -experiences that simulate real world problems, and require dynamic, well-rounded solutions. To support teachers and other learning leaders in making learning irresistible -creating for students a powerful need to know, and a hunger to learn more. To believe in making learning relevant – to the technologies that shape our kids’ lives, the passions that fuel their ambitions, and the demands of life in the 21st century. Introduce “Hour of Code” in schools in collaboration and supporting voluntary organizations such as the Cypriot Entreprise Link. Set up Kids Virtual Innovation & Entrepreneur Camps. In an effort to get all kids creating, collaborating, and learning to code, we call for the set-up of summer camps. A unique virtual camp that gives kids the chance to connect with other kids and expert mentors from around the world. During a four-week camp experience, campers will be taught everything from the basics of building to coding skills in a safe multiplayer environment. Link these actions with the Grand Coalition for Digital Skills for jobs Initiative and education reform.
Training programs for careers advisors
These are the people who need to be way ahead of the game when it comes to telling children today what their options will be in 5 years’ time. They must be heavily involved in travelling abroad and immersing themselves into everything they need to know in order to fulfil their demanding role.
Specially designed seminars should be created to bring speakers or have speakers from our own community to ‘train’ and prep the advisors to think outside of the box. Through the training programs our goal is to breed a “what box” mentality; there shouldn’t be a box in the first place. It’s about thinking differently, creating our own boundaries.
Action point 3:
Initiate train the trainer programs for Career Advisers and Teachers. Link this with Grand Coalition for Digital Skills for jobs Initiative and education reform.
Prepare graduates for a radically changing marketplace
Encourage university students to start a business right after they graduate and even before. Being a student is the perfect period to experiment and work on a business idea. First of all students have time to invest in creative projects, they have basic resources for free such as university labs, academic knowledge and support, databases, etc. Moreover, their classmates can be really supportive and become the first customer of their product. Living in such a supportive environment for 4-5 years and being an individual with no dependents, students have the chance to experiment, fail and most importantly understand that risk taking, developing a new business idea or joining a startup is really an option.
On the one hand we need to inform students about the option of entrepreneurship through regular seminars and competitions that will take place annually in all Universities, and on the other hand, we should provide them with incentives (e.g. course credits, free workplace, mentoring) to start a business during their studies. We recognise that not everyone is entrepreneurial and not everyone will start their own company. An entrepreneurial mindset and training in the “how-to” of business will be an asset in their professional careers no matter what they choose to do.
The objective of the Founder Institute Chapter here in Cyprus, for example, is to help graduate potential entrepreneurial founders through its twice yearly semesters. The Government needs to facilitate and support such initiatives.
Action point 4:
Government must facilitate and support initiatives with hands on approach. The Universities are called to evangelize on the idea to have guest lecturers and mentors from the community to enhance and share stories / experiences with the graduates, creating valuable industry/students links.To inform students about the option of entrepreneurship through regular seminars and competitions that will take place annually in all Universities. Promote and support comprehensive programs to plan and start building every aspect of their business, from the core idea to the product and revenue model. Provide incentives (e.g. course credits, free workplace, mentoring) to start a business during their studies. Allow students to work on startup ideas in the Army with a structured bootcamp style approach.
Cultivating Entrepreneurship Culture
Entrepreneurship Mindset and startup culture – Soft transversal skills
Entrepreneurial education in schools is not just about the motivations and skills needed to startup a business or a new venture; it is foremost about nurturing the ability and willingness of individuals to create value for themselves, for others and for society.
Entrepreneurship and Profit for proposed-value should not be taboo anymore for our society. We expect a context that enables and motivates more students to launch a business before their high-school graduation. The education system should provide incentives towards this direction. Embrace Junior Achievement Cyprus and similar initiatives teaching entrepreneurship values in schools.
In addition to promoting entrepreneurship within schools, colleges, universities, there also needs to be a focus on encouraging those in day jobs with great ideas to take the entrepreneurial route. Providing them with a forum to explore their potential.
Action point 5:
The education system should provide incentives towards this direction. Embrace Junior Achievement Cyprus and similar initiatives teaching entrepreneurship values in schools. Support Entrepreneur Fairs to be held within schools, colleges, Universities, Startup Showcases & Events, After-Schools Clubs & Activities supported by mentors.
Our Children should be able to understand that failure is something expected. They should be willing to try and fail many things, always learning in the process so that they can be successful in the end. Besides, FAIL is a First Attempt In Learning. Its about trying again with experience. Failure is what happens when you don’t persevere. Perseverance eventually leads to success. School and Teachers should be enablers of this culture.
Action point 6:
Transversally include in the way courses are taught. Support “Fail Events” showcasing examples of “failures” that led to success to demystify failure.
Serious game-based-learning is another great way for kids to learn entrepreneurship. We can play any games we want! We can create any future we can imagine because games make us better and they can help us change the world. Gameplay is an unnecessary obstacle and that unnecessary obstacle increases self-motivation, provokes interest and creativity, and help us work at the very edge of our abilities. Games make failure fun and train us to focus our time and energy on truly attainable goals. Games build up our social stamina and provoke us to act in ways that make us more likeable, and they make our hardest efforts feel truly meaningful, by putting them in a much bigger context.
Action point 7:
Create a living lab showcase where we develop and continue to evolve a game-like approach to learning that transforms not only student engagement and outcomes but also teacher practice in compelling new ways.
Involvement/Invitations from all Universities and schools to the Startup community to present the options available to students
Action Point 8: Set up a Startup Tour of all Universities to talk and present new ideas to students. Make it mandatory even in public institutions.
Availability & Attraction of talent
Bring best brains back home and prevent brain drain
Give reasons to people that are highly talented and successful in their respective fields to come back and operate from Cyprus. Allow those that will reach a higher level in their fields to do it in Cyprus. That may be by investing in research and providing an academic position for the scientists in the Universities in Cyprus.
There is no magic formula for attracting and retaining the best entrepreneurs. However: a great place to live plus a talented pool of potential employees, and excellent access to customers and suppliers is a great start. According to various entrepreneurial studies, cities, countries that offer these resources are more likely to benefit from fast-growing companies that create jobs and increase prosperity in their communities.
Recruitment companies can play an important role in the attraction of talent but this means abandoning their current “tired” and “scripted” ways of recruiting. Finding talent is not about the resume and key-words associated with a job spec. It’s about understanding the individual, their personality and what makes them wake up in the morning. The single most important attribute when considering whether to hire someone is personality and if they fit into your company culture. This is even more important than if the person has the skills for the job. Most skills can be learned, but it is difficult to train people on their personality. For founders looking to startup their own companies, finding the right partner(s) is critical. In the startup world, opposites truly do attract – by choosing someone completely different from yourself, you can form a force of nature within your company that is strong enough to withstand challenges from any angle.
Action point 9:
Create the necessary employment framework and initiatives so as to promote excellence and prevent brain drain. Create the necessary framework for academic entrepreneurship to flourish in order to increase spinoffs creation.
Make it easy for companies to hire from third countries (non EU)
Attracting high quality talent is the best way for local skilled workers to develop. Learning from people who are better than you is invaluable and very important to potential founders looking to secure a co-founder(s). The Dubai model is a great example of this, where expats came in to provide advanced skills and now the next generation of locals are reaping the rewards of these actions.
Not only companies but also their workforce should be easy to move and work in Cyprus, with their families. We need to line up with the EU immigration regulations. And also find ways to keep their money in Cyprus by offering tax reliefs and benefits of doing so.
Action point 10:
Enhance the immigration legislature to allow via fast track procedure to bring skilled people to work from third countries.
Attract startups and innovative companies from abroad to set up in Cyprus
Our Country has one of the most attractive and competitive IP boxes in the world and an attractive “angel law” providing incentives to investors to invest in innovative companies and startups. We must be promoting this heavily coupled with drafting of specific incentives to attract grown startups and innovative companies to set up operations in Cyprus. The benefits of this are manifold, starting from the direct contribution to the economy from the company’s operations, the tax payments of its employees, and equally important the indirect benefit of Cypriots working in such advanced environments that leads to “on the job training”.
The Malaysian Multimedia Development Corporation (MDec) was setup in 1996 to create a platform to nurture Malaysian SME’s in the ICT sector to become world-class businesses, whilst attracting participation from global ICT companies to invest in and develop cutting edge digital and creative solutions in Malaysia, provide these startups with a 10 year tax break. They also offer various grants for equity too. Perhaps this is a model we could explore with the Government as it would certainly be enticing for potential new startups here.
In essence, we need to highlight the key benefits of Cyprus for foreign startups, innovation and technology companies to set up operations in Cyprus like Ireland did, for example.
Action point 11:
Government and Cyprus Investment Promotion Agency (CIPA) to engage in active promotion of this by drafting a comprehensive document of benefits offered to such companies and disseminate it accordingly. Promote the existing funding and support programs, the Private Sector Funding Sources for Start-Ups and Early Stage Companies and the tax incentives to investors in eligible startups and innovative companies (Cyprus Business Angels Network). Government and the House of Representatives to investigate and adopt further incentives such as Research & Development tax credits etc.
Government as an Enabler
Rebranding of the government’s digital/high growth companies agenda is a crucial short term initiative in order to help change the public’s perception locally and internationally. We have an opportunity with our size as a country and the campaign should be around the first country to become a startup, a startup country and a country with startup mindset. Highlighting the similarities Cyprus has to startups, pitching us as the underdog, painting a picture of celebrating the failure of our banks: we are starting new to grow. Building a country up from nothing, innovation & transparency at the core. The world loves a good underdog story. We are it and we need to make the most of it and promote ourselves to rebrand our country as part of the effort to attract investments.
Adding to the rebranding, we have to adopt a more efficient – less bureaucratic mindset / image to avoid delays and have a more attractive system.
Action point 12:
Engage with Government officials in order to open a dialogue to explore the potential of their participation in this enablement requirement. This action point requires a dedicated and connected resource from our end with the ability to open doors. Where possible we use global examples to case study this action plan.
Re-train the brain program
An active initiative from within the walls of government to re-educate all relevant public sector employees on the realities of growth and collective progress and the necessary support needed to fuel this.
Startup Cyprus can collaborate with HRDA (ANAD) and/or other relevant organizations at state level to formulate training programs that we will set up in order to train the employees to make them understand that change is happening..
Action point 13:
Encourage public servants to attend startup and entrepreneurship training events. Facilitate such training events particularly for the public sector, especially for government employees that deal with the citizen and businesses to sow the seeds of the entrepreneurial mindset across the board.
Electronic and Digital Government
The cost of the private sector doing business with the public sector in Cyprus is over one billion euros per year. Of these, over 700 million euros are administrative burden, well over the 300 million euros of business as usual cost. We view these 700 million euros as waste of valuable liquidity and call for action to decrease and eradicate it via the digitalization of government processes and services with the implementation of eGovernment services.
Action point 14:
Digitalize government processes and services and make them available online via the implementation of eGovernment services. Enable faster and online company registration. Our goal must be to register a company in 5 minutes. Enable Online Domain registration of the .com.cy domain. Open the .cy domain registration online, making cyprus startups, companies and organizations more visible. The government itself must start thinking digitally and forego of the FAX! Government must digitize it’s back-office and pool data. Implement and utilize a Cyprus Government cloud on an open platform to prevent vendor lock in and enable true electronic Government by utilizing Future Internet’s program, FI-PPP free resources (FIWARE).
Open Data creates value for the Society and the Industry, in terms of accountability, transparency, efficiency, innovation and economic growth. A recent report by McKinseystates that the approximate potential value of Open Data globally is up to 3 trillion dollars in seven core domains (education, transportation, consumer products, electricity, oil and gas, healthcare, and consumer finance). Open Data can improve the quality both of Citizens and Businesses.
There is much progress being done over the last years in the field by other governments and communities. The European Commission has already declared that public datasets should be easily accessible and reusable by citizens through government portals and national services. Moreover the European Commission’s Public Spending Information (PSI) Programme has already developed methodologies for tracking economic value of PSI .
Social Needs for Open Data:
- More efficient and effective government – both through government using its own data better, and through innovators outside of government identifying improved ways to provide public services, meeting the diverse needs of citizens through digital technologies
- Transparency and accountability – allowing citizens and civil society to see, understand and monitor better what their governments and the private sector are doing, challenging corruption or unaccountable activity, and finding opportunities to influence policy and practice
- Inclusion and empowerment – enabling marginalised groups to get involved in the political process, and removing imbalances of power created through information asymmetry.
- Innovation and economic growth – acting as a 21st Century infrastructure, and a raw material, for activity in the information economy. Startups and established businesses can use open data to generate new products and services, and secure efficiencies, generating a net-gain for country economies.
Open Data should be openly permitted and available in ordinary and re-usable formats (i.e. non‐proprietary formats; open license). It is a matter of accessibility, format and license.
For the banking sector the OpenBankProject API (www.openbankproject.com) would be a great showcase for open data. The Open Bank Project is an open source API and App store for banks that empowers financial institutions to securely and rapidly enhance their digital offerings using an ecosystem of 3rd party applications and services. It is a contribution from the technical, web 2.0, open source community to solve one of the largest problems talked about: corruption
Action point 15:
The Cypriot Government should consult experts on how to publish the data and initiate a Public Consultation on which will be the data to be published, to eventually lead to Open Data. We call this the Open Data Initiative and the Government has an active enabling role to play.
Encourage procurement of startup innovation by large companies and the Government -> Buy more from smaller business
SMEs make up the bulk of economic activity in Cyprus, as is the case in the European Union. Startups are SMEs in their first years. The continuous struggle for such companies is to acquire customers, especially for innovative products / services. Bigger companies and the government should be given reasons (tax relief etc) to get services were applicable, from startups. In terms of governmental procurements, startups may fall in a different “type” of companies and make it easier to win such a procurement.
Action point 16:
Government to facilitate and allow innovation procurement for itself. Government to incentivize the procurement of innovation by companies in Cyprus from local innovative and startup companies.
Bandwidth speed & lower price
Structural funds allocated towards improving internet speed and accessibility should be utilised towards enhancing startup infrastructure. This will also aid in attracting foreign startups and innovative companies to set up operations in Cyprus. By significantly lowering the internet price we can improve the competences of the new startups and attract international startups and innovative companies to base their operations in Cyprus.
Action Point 17:
Create the infrastructure to make this possible.
Faster and more friendly processes to rent government property
Government buildings are available at good prices which would suit many startups but they are excruciatingly difficult and time consuming to rent.
Action point 18:
Review the process to allow for similar turnaround as private sector.
Direct flights to Cy
Improving transportation through enabling regular direct flights to EU destinations will significantly improve outreach activities and trade.
Action Point 19:
Offer better airport taxes to carriers who can pretty much connect us to all of Europe with just one stop.
Open Discussions on initiatives and plans for the community: Startups as important stakeholders
Startups and innovative companies are important stakeholders in the ecosystem. The Cyprus Startup ecosystem itself is an important stakeholder driving implementation and making an impact. Their involvement as an important stakeholder, consulting and advising the government in policy making and governance of interconnected innovation and entrepreneurship systems is an internationally recognized best practice. The Cyprus Startup ecosystem players as individuals, as startups, as companies and as organizations, have an important role to play in aiding the government to draft policies, and implementing them to create impact and growth. These two worlds must always be interconnected, adding value to the efforts for growth.
Operate like a startup. Throw ideas around, list them, try them and figure out where we are today and where we want to be with the minimum effort required for maximum results. Start small but move fast! Begin by inviting multiple stakeholders to these discussions
Action point 20:
Government via public consultation with stakeholders – a European Union conditionality- to involve the ecosystem at all levels and stages of discussing, drafting, preparing policies and in the governance of the interconnected innovation and entrepreneurship system. Important steps to this end have been taken by the reform team under the Deputy Minister and the Ministry of Commerce’s team for the Coalition of Digital Skills. We welcome such steps and vouch our full support.
Access to Capital
Access to capital is a multi-tier issue: at seed level to startup up, at full commercialization level and at growth level.
Access to capital is of importance for startups and innovative companies to grow and grow fast to remain competitive. Lack of capital endangers the investment of the country in innovation and startups, as these companies may face the risk of relocation close to their investors, denying the country of the economic rewards when the companies grow.
Re-mould current grants/funding programs (eradicate potential waste that happens with current grant programs such as youth entrepreneurship, streamline process for current innovation grant – make it much more straightforward to apply (so you don’t need to hire an advisor almost full time) and get rid of some of the silly rules that hinder progress.
The banks must cater to the specialized needs of startups and innovative companies. Next Bank for example, a successful global brand is an independent, open and collaborative community driving change for the better in financial services through design, innovation and entrepreneurship. The people behind Next Bank are all current financial services industry leaders and practitioners who want to see banking change for the better, for every person on the planet and they see design, innovation and entrepreneurship as forces of change.
They are spread across the world, from Sydney to Seattle, and are strongly connected with the best and brightest minds in the business. They have a strong volunteer network helping spread the Next Bank movement and with access to the world’s best and most connected thinkers in banking.
Action Point 21:
Government grants need to be streamlined to lower red tape. Time to grant and time-to-payment metrics must be implemented to streamline the process. The Government to initiate and support smaller grants, fast procedures to burst startup creation (e.g. 15.000 for 3 months acceleration / validation programs). Set up an open crafting session where discussions are held on what should be included and what should ‘go’ from current grants and financial support tools. We also call on banks to consider the creation and offering of special services / departments for startups or even Special Banks for startups; to consider the provision of service packages as well as or instead of capital (workspace for a year, utilities paid).
Developing new financial instruments
We need to utilize all the resources in our hands to develop new financial instruments to help the economy to grow and at the same time we must prepare the ground for the day of high growth startups to raise capital through public markets.
Action Point 22:
Utilize the Juncker Investment Plan and the Entrepreneurship Fund (EBRD) to create risk sharing mechanisms to support startups during their first years. Consider the creation and support of a fund of funds to create Venture Capital funds or the creation of a Government owned – private run VC firm like the example of Denmark (http://www.seedcapital.dk/). Create programs to create and support support privately run accelerator/incubator programs liek the example of Denmark (http://www.accelerace.dk/). Create a platform for university students to list their projects up for potential seed investments as a prerequisite when submitting their projects.
Increase Private and Institutional investment in startups
Cyprus needs investments for growth in the real economy and investments in the “young brains”. We need to complement the current incentives in a formidable competitive set of incentives to jump start growth.
Action Point 23
[Linked with Action Point 11]:
Government to investigate and adopt further incentives such as Research & Development tax credits, investment incentives. Provide incentives for companies to present their RDI expenses in their account as this will correctly present the private sector’s investment in RDI. Support the creation of Business Angel Network such as the Cyprus Business Angel Network to leverage private money. Support business angel networks to be part of European networks and to attract investors from abroad as members.
Mentoring and Support
For an ecosystem to thrive and result in growth and economic prosperity we need to link experience with the innovative young founders. We need to be actively investing in mentorship.
Action point 24:
Support initiatives and events that are already trying to connect mentors and bring over top mentors from abroad who are actively involved in flourishing ecosystems (or who have done so before) with the local scene to places like shared workspaces listed below for events and discussions. Government support to liaise with other European startup hubs to arrange international missions.
Innovative, Shared workspaces
Coworking spaces for startups and innovative companies are essential, especially when they offer services to the companies that each one individually will find it extremely hard to get. There are many abandoned buildings that can be utilised in order to create such a campus style free workspace that can be utilised also to attract other entrepreneurs from abroad to come. These spaces would become a creative and dynamic environment that will help engage the brain to think differently.
Action Point 25:
Support the creation of spaces that are specifically there to encourage very early stage entrepreneurs and startups, like Capital Impact for example. These locations could be embraced as Cyber-locations subsidised by the Government. An opportunity for founders to choose their location of preference. Invite ‘entrepreneurs in residence’ to set up for free in exchange for providing support and insights to those housed there as early stage entrepreneurs. These could be local or from abroad. Support the creation of campus style spaces that students who have finished their studies can enroll into and work for a set time on their ideas to turn them into viable businesses.
Access to RDI Infrastructure
Create synergies between academia and industry and promote public funded University infrastructures to be open to startups and innovative companies.
Action point 26:
We call on public Universities and the state to open up publicly funded University infrastructure (labs) to startups and innovative companies.Promote clustering and partnerships between startups and innovative enterprises aiming to share large and expensive infrastructure.
Developing synergies and Opening Markets
Cyprus is a tiny market but an ideal pilot base to launch. It is imperative that startups and innovative companies are competitive on a global basis and we need to actively support the opening of markets to enable them to tap into the potential and increase the country’s exports.
Action point 27:
Send out delegations to various events to ‘talk Cyprus’. Make sure that the delegation is clued up and represents the island in the best possible way. Promote the ‘made in cyprus’ initiative for new innovative products and support IP protection and trademarking. Promote partnerships in the EU for promoting Cyprus products and services. Revamp support programs for Cypriot companies to promote their products / services abroad. Support clustering efforts for opening markets.
Supporting outreach activities
Cyprus startups located in the southern eastern border of the European Union face significant problems when it comes to performing international outreach activities such as taking part in training activities, trade shows to promoting their products, participating in investor pitch events etc. It is extremely important to support startups to promote their businesses through outreach activities through dedicated programs.
Action point 28:
Support startups to promote their businesses through outreach activities through dedicated programs. Collaborate with active Cyprus Startup ecosystem members that are living and operating abroad to create the Cyprus Outreach Alliance to support these companies in their efforts.
Provided that the local market in Cyprus is very small, especially when it comes to high-tech products startups must take that initiative and inventiveness abroad. Cyprus startups are looking to grow internationally so as to ensure their sustainability and growth and create a real impact to the Cyprus economy. Key issues such as determining where to export, how to find buyers and connections in foreign markets, financing solutions, navigating the regulations related to entering a new market etc should be explored and a system to support the startups should be developed.
Action point 29:
Establish a forum for international trade missions to promote Cyprus for exports in conjunction with promoting Cyprus through government incentives for international companies to set up operations in Cyprus. Liase the ecosystem with commercial attaches in our embassies abroad and the Cyprus Chamber of Commerce and Industry to actively include the ecosystem in commercial missions organized.