Prof. Constantinos Papadias, Scientific Director of The American College of Greece’s Research Center (ACG-RC) and members of the ATHENA Research Center, Drs. Evita Fotinea and Nassos Katsamanis (CTO at Behavioral Signals) jointly organized an Entrepreneurship Forum & Startup Fair at the IEEE International Conference on Acoustics, Speech & Signal Processing (ICASSP), which is the flagship conference of the IEEE Signal Processing Society (SPS).
The event, featured for the second year at ICASSP and including a startup fair for the first time, took place with great success on the Greek island of Rhodes on Monday, June 5, 2023. It aimed to bring together the stakeholders of the diverse and dynamic SP-related innovation ecosystem, researchers, entrepreneurs, investors and experts in order to share insights and experiences, initiate and foster synergies, and inspire the next generation of signal processing innovators to think outside of the box.
Present and remote attendees had the opportunity to hear entrepreneurial journeys and stories, victories and defeats, challenges and opportunities, and commercial successes or failures from the esteemed speakers. The diverse program agenda included keynote speeches, panel discussions, networking opportunities, and a startup fair, where a dozen Greek and international startups showcased their products in an adjacent exhibition. The exhibition was followed by a pitch competition, where a number of young professionals from the startup community presented their pitches across various application areas, ranging from bioinformatics, health, and sound systems to autonomous vehicles, imaging radars and wildfire prevention. The participants received valuable feedback from knowledgeable “old hands,” which -in turn- fostered inspiration and know-how.
The keynote speaker of the Entrepreneurship Forum was Big Pi Partner and Advisory Member of the ACG Research, Technology & Innovation Network (RTIN), Dr. Alexandros Eleftheriadis, who presented the well-known Greek VC focusing on Deep Tech startups. He gave useful tips about investments, criteria, entities and terms. Founder & CEO of Signal Generix, Dr. Tasos Kounoudes, offered an extended overview of his innovative signal-processing company based in Limassol, Cyprus. He was followed by Dr. Vassilis Pitsikalis, Founder & CSO of DeepLab, a machine learning-based startup involved in many European research programs.
Dr. Yingpei Lin, Director of Advanced Wireless Technology Lab at Huawei Munich Research Center, informed the attendees about the progress of 5G Advanced and the challenges that lay ahead and envisioned solutions. Dr. Aris Lalos, Research Director at Industrial Systems Institute, ATHENA Research Center, took the stage and reminded the audience that all Big Tech companies became what they are today after buying dozens of smaller, agile and more innovative companies, bridging -in a way- the gap between industry and research. The session wrapped up with a speech by Dr. Gregory Yovanof, Managing Director, Strategis Maritime ICT Cluster, who presented the various dynamic “Ecosystems of Technological Innovation and Entrepreneurship in the Blue Economy,” citing the many opportunities they offer.
“Tech-based Entrepreneurship” was the title of the panel that followed in an effort to highlight the great challenges (mainly) young entrepreneurs are faced with while trying to establish their startups. Drs. Alexandros Eleftheriadis, Nassos Katsamanis and Tasos Kounoudes were joined by Deree Professor Dr. George Drakakis (Purposeful), Dimitris Maroulis (Genesis Ventures) and Dimitris Komninos (Mood), with Dr. Constantinos Papadias in the role of moderator. Some of the highlights of the open dialog session were that resources are never enough, bootstrapping is a trend although risky, companies funded by EU grants tend to be more protected, basic research is always necessary and a key challenge is to build a really good team.
The forum concluded with each company’s pitch to the judges and audience and the awarding of the startup competition winners. This year’s first prize went to Treble (Cloud-based sound systems), the second prize was handed to Waveye (AI-driven imaging radars) and in third place came Voinosis (Diagnosis of diseases such as dementia based on voice analysis). The prizes were awarded to the winners by IEEE SPS President Professor Athina Petropoulou.