1. GENERAL INFORMATION
The Athens Innovation District will host research centers, startups, large established companies in the research, technology and innovation field. This coexistence and continuous interaction between scientists and specialized personnel will contribute to the development of innovative products and services for the benefit of society. Successful synergies between participants will create extra value (value-added) for the final outcomes.
The General Secretariat for Research and Innovation (GSRI) in cooperation with the Ministry of Development and Investment (MDI) adopted a thorough and intensive approach to check possible locations for the Innovation District. Finally, the old industrial buildings of CHROPEI, a historic chemical company, on Pireos Street were selected as the most suitable, since they can be easily accessed from both the center of Piraeus and the center of Athens. The site covers a total area of 17,900 square meters comprising a listed industrial building complex. Planning also includes development of 35,700 square meters and there are estimates that more than 2,400 people will be employed in the refurbished facilities that will host R&D divisions of large enterprises, startups, incubators, spin-offs, accelerators and research centers. Use of the property was acquired by the Ministry of Development and Investments in 2019.
It is important to point out that the project will be implemented in its entirety by a Public-Private Partnership (PPP) following a competitive selection process. This means that the project will be wholly financed by the resulting PPP entity without mobilization of public funds. The Recovery and Resilience Facility could also contribute part of the financing, as mentioned in the call for projects. The relevant joint ministerial decision was issued in April 2020.
More specifically, as regards the competitive process, the Ministry of Development and Investments designated the GSRI – the competent authority for defining, and coordinating implementation of, the policy for Research, Technological Development and Innovation (RTDI) policy – as the management body for the CHROPEI site (Ministerial Decision 4412/Government Gazette 3/16.1.2020).
In December 2020 the public consultation procedure was completed and part 1 of the tender document, discussed for about three months was published. After conclusion of the procedures for expression of interest, the opening of tenders at the GSRI premises revealed that four consortiums had expressed interest in the project.
The contractor that will undertake building the first Innovation District in Greece is soon to be selected. Submitted business plans estimate that investment will amount to approximately 100 million €.
The Athens Innovation District–CHROPEI will offer multiple benefits to Greek citizens and society at large, including:
- Fostering Growth, Research and Innovation activities: its operation will stimulate the research-innovation fields and bring together research centers and enterprises creating favourable conditions for the development of marketable innovative products and services;
- Creating a “pole of attraction” reaching well beyond the national boundaries of Greece: the Athens Innovation District will become a point or reference, just like similar innovation centers in other countries;
- Public fund savings: development of the Innovation District will mobilize private financing through a private-public partnership (PPP) without contribution of public funds;
- Creating employment during development: this is a major project expected to create many jobs in the course of its development;
- Creating employment when operational: the presence of research centers and enterprises will create high-quality employment for researchers and executives in different enterprises;
- Exploitation of public property: the CHROPEI site has been abandoned for decades. Development of the Innovation District will transform this area in a state-of-the-art space, which will be open to the public while preserving its historic character;
- Upgrading of the area – benefits for local community: development of the CHROPEI site, while preserving its historic character, and upgrading of the area along Pireos Street, which, despite hosting numerous enterprise premises, has lost its aura of prestige and is currently at the margin of the Piraeus Municipality.