Transforming opportunity into reality through tools, methods, and acceleration program to provide concrete support for fast-growing innovative companies in the Balkan-Mediterranean countries – North Macedonia, Greece, Cyprus, and Bulgaria – GAZELLE Project.
The first International Investment Forum under the GAZELLE Project (orGAniZing accELaration for high-potentiaL innovativE SMEs) was held in hotel Holliday Inn, Skopje (13 April 2022), organized by the Economic Chamber of North Macedonia and the partner organizations from Greece, Cyprus, and Bulgaria. The Forum was intended for innovative companies characterized by fast growth rate, which significantly contribute to creating new jobs.
Representatives of several partner organizations addressed the Forum. Mihajlo Donev, M.Sc., acting Operations Director for Development, Innovation, and Knowledge of the Economic Chamber of North Macedonia (Project Partner 4), greeted the attendance, expressed gratitude for their participation in the Forum, and presented the undertaken project activities. Furthermore, he pointed out that this Project provided test tools and methods for support of innovative SMEs, as well as implementation of pilot strategic plan for concrete support of innovative companies via the Acceleration and Development Program. In the year marking the 100th anniversary of the Economic Chamber of North Macedonia, we are proud that our portfolio of activities produces value for high-potential innovative companies that create new jobs such as the ‘gazelles’, which symbolize quick advancement and progress forward, concluded the Operations Director Donev.
Ms. Eleni Foti, lead partner of the GAZELLE Project and Director of International Commercial Relations at the Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI), delivered an introductory speech where she expressed gratitude for the hospitality and pointed out the exceptional importance of organizing such International Investment Forum, which is expected to contribute to higher awareness regarding business angels, and moreover, develop opportunity for communication between the companies from the countries engaged in the BALKAN MED Program.
Dr. Dimitris Karydis, Senior Advisor at the investment and trade promotion agency – Enterprise Greece (Project Partner 3), provided brief overview of the main project objectives, activities, and the results expected of the project.
Dr. Leonid Nakov, professor at the Faculty of Economics of the Ss. Cyril and Methodius University in Skopje, Center for Economic Research, shared his experience of selecting, training, and preparing five fast-growing innovative SMEs in North Macedonia under the Acceleration Program, their expectations and future steps. Moreover, together with Antonis Livieratos, assistant professor at the National and Kapodistrian University in Athens, Greece, and GAZELLE Project coordinator (Project Partner 2), he presented the tools and benefits of the Acceleration Program for innovative small and medium-sized enterprises (gazelles), stimulating discussion among the audience and companies.
The Forum included 14 innovative SMEs from 4 countries engaged in the BALKAN MED Program (North Macedonia, Greece, Cyprus, and Bulgaria), which introduced their activities to the potential investors, commercial banks, universities, and research centers, aiming to establish contacts with investors that could grow in the national, regional, and international markets, and launch future innovative processes.
In the past period, the project partners undertook activities that are expected to strengthen the capacity of the chambers, aiming to improve the cooperation between the stakeholder organizations in the development of consistent innovation and economic development policy, one that will generate synergy at transnational level.
Lead partner of the GAZZELE Project is the Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI), in partnership with the Economic Chamber of North Macedonia, the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Enterprise Greece, Cyprus University of Technology, and Ruse Chamber of Commerce and Industry, which will organize business forums in Bulgaria, Cyprus, and Greece in the coming period, with the final result being the establishment of Balkan support network for innovative fast-growing companies.