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No platform to encourage Cypriot start-ups

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We live in an era where countries and organisations try to promote innovation in products and services.

They range from disposing and selling of products around the world promoted by governmental institutions and private companies seeking to expand their trade activities.

Those who watch YouTube will notice the interesting programmes of Dragons’ Den (UK) and those in the US (Shark Tank), Australia and other countries.

Recently, a contest of such a nature for innovative products and services was organised by Romania in the form of a competition.

The organisers facilitated “opening doors” and organised interviews with interested entities to enter into a joint venture or even the platform sale to facilitate other international companies that might be interested.

During the Romanian competition, around 80 applications by private companies pitched their start-up idea.

After the presentation, the applicants had to respond to relevant questions to explain their ideas in person and assess the competitor’s personality, experience on the subject, business history, and if funds are needed for the idea and business expansion.

The questions are not easy, and they are addressed by the ‘dragons,’ and the replies by the competitors play a serious role in their success or rejection.

I watched a couple of pitches by promoters regarding real estate and estate agencies in UK competitions, who failed tragically (being more theoretical than solid proposals) whereas (unlike the Romania competition) they could be rewarded with more than €1 mln financing.

This would also open the business horizon through invited investors with international operations and success history, including acquiring shares in the proposed business.

Returning to the Romanian competition, one participant was a Cypriot firm Ask Wire.

This company developed a computer proposal that collects information originating from government data and other sources, which predicts the possible damage of areas for development (such as earthquake/flooding areas) using computer-based valuations.

This start-up is especially suitable for financiers, insurance companies, developers, real estate agents and others.

I watched the pitch of the most eligible ten firms, which were shortlisted, and Ask Wire got the first prize; in addition to the business publicity, the organisers opened their doors for introduction to the US (and other countries) for the first three to arrange personal interviews.

There we are. Little Cyprus has a well-recognised professional success, and I wonder why such events could not be undertaken by local bodies (such as the chambers of business KEVE and OEB, the central bank).

Such activity falls within Cyprus’ inspiration of becoming a financial centre (be it small).

Well done to Cyprus/Ask Wire, which is a beacon for others who might want to follow this most competitive journey.

It is a fact that the Cyprus government and various other bodies organise awards for various firms based on their revenue and are especially export-oriented, thus excluding innovative firms and start-ups, with the winners often always being the same companies.

Note that the UK Dragons’ Den team, out of its panel of five well-known international entrepreneurs, two are of Cypriot origin: T. Souleiman, a Turkish Cypriot and Theo Pafitis, a Greek Cypriot.

Should a company wish to opt for this route, do not necessarily expect our compatriots to opt for you.

Remember that they are foremost businesspeople who aim for profit.

 

 By Antonis Loizou FRICS – Antonis Loizou & Associates EPE – Real Estate Valuers, Property Consultants & Estate Agents