PURPOSE of ESTABLISHMENT of Thess INTEC
The establishment and development of a large-scale Innovation and Technology Center in Thessaloniki underpins and completes in the best possible way a number of initiatives launched by the Greek government for the enhancement and promotion of domestic innovation, currently driven by academic institutions and research institutes, startup hubs and research & development departments of high-tech enterprises in Greece.
The creation of the Thessaloniki Innovation and Technology Center-Thess INTEC, a 4th-generation science and technology park (STP), is the link of all these initiatives offering the opportunity for co-location and collaboration of public- and private-sector human resources in research and development within a specially designed space covering a total area of 761.000 sqm, next to Thessaloniki International Airport “Makedonia” in the Municipality of Thermaikos.
Thess INTEC can consolidate and, in particular, exploit past efforts, by both the Greek academic/research and business communities, in the field of applied research and development, with a shared and agreed goal of developing specific innovative products and services destined for the global market. Furthermore, the strong and structured partnership of research bodies with enterprises of the productive sector will be a particularly potent incentive for attracting foreign investors who are able to discern the competitive advantage of Greece in terms of its large pool of highly qualified human capital, advantageous geographical position and superior living standards.
The principal feature that makes Thess INTEC stand out is the fact that its establishment is based and inextricably linked to a significant number of specific and dynamic Greek enterprises and research bodies, as well as to international Technology Parks in Europe and America; these have already concluded written agreements in view of their expected collaboration in the context of their establishment within Thess INTEC. Development of Thess INTEC was based on a bottom-up approach, which requires that needs arising from co-location and cooperation of research teams and businesses would dictate the methods, the size, even the materials to be used for the construction of the Innovation Center shared infrastructures and building complexes.
The designing of Thess INTEC is addressed to the Greek innovation ecosystem as a whole, including competitive and outward-oriented enterprises, research laboratories with a history in industry collaborations, spin-offs and startups. Fields such as “advanced materials”, “artificial intelligence”, “clean energy”, “nanotechnology”, “logistics”, transport and mobility” are among the cutting-edge sectors included in the joint plan developed by enterprises together with research laboratories and international partners with the aim of developing novel products and services for the global market.
Large-scale, organized Technology Parks and Innovation Districts constitute the most efficient structures for linking research to the productive sectors while, simultaneously, supporting technology startup enterprises, since they provide interaction opportunities between co-located startups or spinoffs and “mature” enterprises. In this context, one of the key Thess INTEC functions will be the provision of support services and facilities for hosting startups from Greece and abroad.
This possibility is totally in line with the recent efforts of the Greek government to promote startup entrepreneurship and slow down the “brain-drain” phenomenon.
IDENTITY OF THE PROJECT
Thess INTEC is governed by Law 3982/2011 (Official Gazette 143) on Special Type Business Parks in Greece. According to the feasibility and viability study carried out in cooperation with the International Association of Technology Parks and Areas of Innovation (IASP), 70 successful high-tech enterprises have signed cooperation agreements with 17 academic/research institutions in the context of the 6 Mega-Projects under Thess INTEC in view of their co-location and partnership sharing common objectives in the Thess INTEC facilities.
The 6 innovative Mega Projects included in Phase Ι of Thess INTEC are:
- MP1: Advanced Materials and Manufacturing Processes
- MP2 Flexible Organic Nanotechnology Applications
- MP3 Artificial Intelligence and Simulation Applications
- MP4 Clean Energy Innovative Solutions
- MP5 Competence Center for Logistics & Business Challenges
- MP6 Future Mobility Applications
Enterprises and/or research teams wishing to be hosted in the Thess INTEC facilities are evaluated according to a documented selection procedure. They will operate independently and work towards their own objectives in terms of economic growth and profitability.
Thess INTEC will be a large-scale Innovation and Technology Center in Greece adopting best practices from the most successful Technology Parks and Innovation Districts around the world.
Expected overall results of the project over the next 20 years are summarized in the following financial and social performance figures, based on European experience:
Infrastructure projects and utilities will cover the total area of the site in order to prepare for the next phases of development of Thess INTEC which comprise construction of new buildings or granting of surface rights, always based on the LEASING or PPP approach, depending on the characteristics of each investment proposal.
IMPLEMENTING AGENCY, INSTITUTIONAL FRAMEWORK & TIMELINE FOR THESS INTEC
Until July 2020, the project promoter of Thess INTEC was the Thessaloniki Technology Park Management and Development Corporation S.A., a not-for-profit entity established in 1994 as a technology transfer organization connecting enterprises with research bodies.
After years of studies on large-scale, organized infrastructures for partnership and co-location of research teams from enterprises, universities and research bodies, Thessaloniki Technology Park S.A. entered into discussions with Innovation Ecosystem Operators and organized the feasibility demonstration procedures for the Thess INTEC project.
Today, the implementing agency and operator of the Thessaloniki Innovation and Technology Center-Thess INTEC is the Thess INTEC S.A. Science & Technology Park Development Company, established in August 2020 as a not-for-profit, public benefit société anonyme (Law 4712/2020, Official Gazette 146) and already in operation according to private-sector financial criteria. Private sector bodies and enterprises hold 58% of the Thess INTEC S.A. shares (represented by 7 Board Members); these are the Federation of Industries of Greece (SBE), the Greek Exporters’ Association (SEVE) and company donors from all regions of Greece, which and are exempted from gift tax (Law 4714/2020). The remaining 42% of shares (represented by 4 Board Members) are held by public sector bodies, namely Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, University of Macedonia, International Hellenic University, Center for Research and Technology-Hellas (CERTH), Alexandria Innovation Zone and Municipality of Thermaikos.
Share capital of Thess INTEC S.A. is fully paid up and the company has secured financing for all technical designs and licenses/permits required for full maturity of project. For 2022 and 2023, the time plan line includes implementation of final technical designs and construction of key infrastructures as required by Law 3982/2011 (Official Gazette 143) on Business Parks. The project is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2024 with the construction of remaining utilities/infrastructures and buildings destined for the co-location of high-tech enterprises, research bodies and startups in the context of the 6 Mega Projects.
Thess INTEC will be developed in a 760,000 sqm site located in the Municipality of Thermaikos, next to the Thessaloniki International Airport “Makedonia”. The site was granted by the Greek government to the Alexandria Innovation Zone S.A. (Law 4690/2020, Official Gazette 104), which granted exclusive surface rights for the total area in favor of Thess INTEC S.A. for 99 years (4/2/2021). The Center’s infrastructures will cover a total of 250,000 sqm and Thess INTEC S.A. will construct 10% (25,000 sqm) of the initial building infrastructures. The remaining 90% will be developed by private investments with the aim of promoting every-day interaction and collaboration between research and the industry. Both Greek and foreign investors have already expressed a strong interest.
Thess INTEC is bound to become the natural host of the Greek innovation ecosystem, thus contributing in a major way to changing the production model of Greece. It will also be a point of reference for Thessaloniki and Northern Greece at large. Its 340,000 sqm of open, green spaces, its sport and recreation facilities, the singular character of its landscape and buildings, its inseparable bond with the sea and the lively and continuous “dialogue” with the local community will undoubtedly establish Thess INTEC as an important meeting point and arts and culture venue.