Interview with Eliza Loucaidou Kassianidou
Director | Innovation & Entrepreneurship Centre, Deloitte
1. What exactly is ARIS and what are its main goals?
ARIS (A Really Inspiring Space) is a major non-profit initiative launched in 2018 by the Bank of Cyprus and Deloitte Cyprus, aimed at providing young entrepreneurs with the structure, guidance and network they need to launch successful start-ups. This is essentially a Start-up Accelerator program, carried out at the ARIS facility in Limassol, designed specifically for emerging groups of entrepreneurs who envision solving challenges through innovative technological solutions.
To date, ARIS has received more than 60 applications from start-ups from Cyprus and abroad, of which more than 20 have benefited from the program, services and network of the Deloitte Cyprus Innovation and Entrepreneurship Center and the Bank of Cyprus. At the same time, ARIS participates in EU co-financed projects, implementing actions in the field of entrepreneurship, youth social entrepreneurship and the empowerment of women in the STEM industry (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics), with the aim of creating added value at European level.
2. Last month some new companies joined the accelerator program. Which sectors are represented and how do they benefit from their participation in this program?
In October 2021, six new start-up teams were selected to participate in the program, with technological and innovative solutions in various fields such as health, finance and education. The program lasts approximately 26 weeks, during which time selected teams and start-ups receive the services and support of the Deloitte Innovation and Entrepreneurship Center and a team of mentors. The goal is to develop their business plans, so that they reach a level where their startup can either continue its activities organically, or secure investment for further development.
The new start-up teams will benefit from many learning and mentoring opportunities, knowledge transfer, networking with various stakeholders and industry partners as well as access to the innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem throughout their participation in the program, to optimize their business model and accelerate market penetration strategy.
3. In general, how do you assess the future of start-ups in Cyprus?
Taking into account both the private initiatives of recent years for the creation and support of start-ups such as ARIS, as well as the state institutions that now contribute significantly to the development of the wider ecosystem of innovation and start-ups, I look to the future with optimism. At the same time, the growing pace of research and innovation within academia, research centers and centers of excellence, as well as in industry and the media, combined with the effort to attract foreign companies, especially in the field of technology, encourage new investments and create healthy conditions for the further development and viability of start-ups in Cyprus. Nevertheless, efforts need to be intensified and made more targeted to attract the necessary investment funding that will push start-ups not only to enter the market but lead them to their international development.