The major investment of Amazon Web Services has been discussed during the meeting between Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and the executives of the company, just a few hours after the announcement that Greece is included in the list of countries where Amazon Web Services will invest in the context of the first expansion of its Local Zone infrastructure outside the United States.
Michael Punke, Vice-President of Amazon Web Services, in charge of Global Public Policy, participated in the meeting. Mr Punke congratulated the Prime Minister and the government and said that he is astonished by the leaps accomplished by Greece in such a short period of time.
Kyriakos Mitsotakis: The country is changing dramatically. It’s really becoming a hub for high-tech investments.
“This is an important day for Greece, an important day for Amazon. We’re very, very happy that we’ll be making important announcements regarding your presence in Greece. The one thing which I would like to point out is that the country is changing dramatically. It’s really becoming a hub for high-tech investments, especially in data centers, and it is very encouraging for us that very, very important global players choose Greece to establish a permanent presence,” said the Prime Minister in his introduction.
I think it’s another vote of confidence in the prospects of the Greek economy. As you know, we’ve engaged in a dramatic digitization effort of the state. We have a “cloud first” policy and we do intend to establish Greece as a data infrastructure center. The government is fully aligned to support this vision, and I’m very, very happy that you are responding and that you will significantly increase your footprint in Greece,” added Kyriakos Mitsotakis.
“I was in venture capital before I entered politics. So I’m very, very happy that – with a slight delay – what I thought could be possible in Greece in terms of the technology and innovation sector contributing a significant percentage of our GDP is actually happening. And of course, with Covid lots of people choose to work from Greece. So what is interesting is that in a more fluid and mobile work environment, we make it very easy for digital nomads to obtain visas so you can work from anywhere”.
The identity of the investment
Amazon Web’s decision to choose Greece for its “Local Zone” infrastructure, as one out of eleven in total that it is planning to create all over Europe, reflects the major investment interest that our country attracts.
At the same time, it confirms the position of Greece as a regional technology hub, where large companies with a global footprint make strategic investments in infrastructure that will support the fourth industrial revolution and the economy of the future.
Local Zones decrease application latency. They offer computing power, digital storage, databases and other selected services through infrastructure installed close to major urban, industrial and technological centers.
In this way, AWS Local Zones accelerate responses to the level of milliseconds, thus essentially facilitating activities, such as financial activities, multimedia production, video streaming, high-end gaming, simulations, augmented and virtual reality environments and machine learning.
Michael Punke, Amazon Web Services Vice-President
Amazon Web Services Vice-President pointed out that what contributed to the selection of Greece (as an investment destination) has been the support of the government throughout the preparatory procedure, as well as the change that he has observed in the Greek economy today compared to the previous decade. He also congratulated the Prime Minister on his leading role in Greece’s progress and in the efforts to digitize the state, while he also said that he is impressed with the work of the government within such a short period of time.
Presenting the investment, Mr Punker explained that the Local Zone is a new infrastructure that will enable a millisecond response, which is very important for many sectors ranging from financial services to healthcare and video live streaming.
“This is the outcome of a whole range of changes and political initiatives that have been materialized in the last years. One of them – as the Prime Minister has said – is the policy that we have developed in order to prioritize the computing cloud,” said the Minister of State and Digital Governance Kyriakos Pierrakakis.
Mr Pierrakakis added that “almost 25% of the financing of Greece by the Recovery Fund will be channeled to digital services. Cloud services provided at a short distance, offering rapid response, are exceptionally important to materialize the outline of this policy”.
“The message that I want to send is that we are here in order to help and resolve any issue that may arise as regards to an investment, so that we can accelerate and improve the prospects of the investment,” said the Minister of Development and Investments Adonis Georgiadis. “This is the spirit infused by the Prime Minister, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, to our government”.
The Prime Minister’s introduction and statements.
It’s a pleasure to see you. And I guess this is an important day for Greece, an important day for Amazon. We’re very, very happy that we’ll be making important announcements regarding your presence in Greece. The one thing, which I would like to point out is that the country is changing dramatically. It’s really becoming a hub for high -tech investments, especially in data centers, and it is very encouraging for us that very, very important global players choose Greece to establish a permanent presence.
I think it’s another vote of confidence in the prospects of the Greek economy. As you know, we’ve engaged in a dramatic digitization effort of the state. We have a “cloud first” policy and we do intend to establish Greece as a data infrastructure center. The government is fully aligned to support this vision, and I’m very very happy that you are responding and that you will significantly increase your footprint in Greece.
So pleasure to be able to talk with you. And so you can tell us a little bit more about your thoughts , your ideas and your plans for our country.
Let me add to two concluding remarks, which I think are important. First of all, to build upon what you said regarding the opportunity that the COVID tragedy is offering us to accelerate the digitization process. This is happening in Greece as we speak. We have a state-of-the-art vaccination operation that is fully digital. We’ve been rolling out, systematically, services for businesses and citizens through our gov.gr site. And if you ask the average Greek citizen what is the most successful thing that this government has done, they will probably tell you it is the digital transformation.
We were laggards and I think we’re becoming leaders. We are really, I think, leapfrogging other countries when it comes to transforming the fabric of the state and the way companies and citizens interact with the Greek government. And of course, this is offering lots of opportunities. We are opening up our data sets.
We are being extremely proactive when it comes to our policies in this space. The second thing I think you need to be aware of – as you will be, I mean, you already have a presence, but the presence is going to be much more significant – is that Greece now has a booming tech ecosystem.
We probably have four or five unicorns already in Greece. There is tremendous interest for startup and growth capital in the tech sector. And the real reason behind that, I think, has to do with our human capital. We have tremendously talented graduates from our main polytechnic universities.
We have an expat global community of people who left the country during the crisis, who would love to come back to Greece to support this Greek transformation. And this has resulted in very, very creative work done in the Greek technology space, which is clearly not directed just at the Greek markets. These companies are looking at the global market that just happens to be based in Greece. And we’re very, very happy about that. So as you scan the globe for opportunities that go beyond core business, keep in mind that what’s happening in Greece is very, very intriguing and I think very rewarding for all of us who have been working hard for this moment to come.
I was in venture capital before I entered politics. So I’m very, very happy that – with a slight delay – what I thought could be possible in Greece in terms of the technology and innovation sector contributing a significant percentage of our GDP is actually happening. And of course, with Covid lots of people choose to work from Greece. So what is interesting is that in a more fluid and mobile work environment, we make it very easy for digital nomads to obtain visas so you can work from anywhere.
If you have good connectivity, why not work from a place… I mean, you work from a lovely place in Montana, and maybe we can entice you to spend some of your time, split your time between Montana and Greece. But I can tell you, this is really happening. And of course, there are many additional benefits, in terms of economic activity across the board. When people decide to spend some of their time and do business out of Greece and not just look at Greece as a holiday destination.
And I will just repeat what the Minister, what Minister Georgiadis said to the team. They know that we’re here to help, solve whatever problems will present themselves. Inevitably, there are always issues that need to be addressed, but we are very open and very hands-on.
And who knows? I had a chance to meet Jeff Bezos when he came to Greece during the summer. Maybe we can also convince him to do something in the space sector in Greece. That will be another fascinating next step. But thank you. Thank you very much. Looking forward to welcoming you. Greece welcomed last year, a record number of American tourists last year. So maybe you can spend some time with your next trip in Europe and Greece. We’ll be happy to chat in person.
The meeting was attended, from the Greek side by the Minister of Development and Investments Adonis Georgiadis, Minister of State and Digital Governance Kyriakos Pierakakis and Ministers of State George Gerapetritis and Akis Skertsos. From the Amazon side participated Franco Spicciariello, Head of Public Policy in Central and Eastern Europe, Marina Stavrakantonaki, Manager of Public Policy at Amazon Web Services, Athanasios Patsakas, Commercial Sector Lead in Greece and Cyprus and Vasilis Kotitsas, Public Sector Lead in Greece and Cyprus.