BIC of Crete is a non-profit and non-governmental organization, which was established in July 2014 with the initiative of the Holy Metropolis of Ierapetra & Sitia – CRETE, and other bodies of both the public and the private sector of the island of Crete, such as:
the Regional Development Fund of Crete,
the Technological Educational Institute of Crete,
the Foundation for Research & Technology,
the Lasithi Chamber of Commerce, and
The Pancretan Cooperative Bank.
BIC of Crete is offering consulting services to private companies, mainly aiming at supporting SMEs and their entrepreneurs, local authorities and parties of the public sector, in order to enhance their competitiveness and efficiency.
Also, it supports the creation of new companies assuring their healthy development through a full spectrum of services offered. With responsibility and reliability, the company undertakes the business development, the technical support, the access to financial sources, the finding of new partners in Greece and abroad, the implementation of marketing and publicity programs, as well as the personnel training of enterprises and other bodies who seek a more productive route.
Furthermore, BIC of Crete participates or manages national and European programs that aim to the general improvement of the business environment, the promotion of research and technology, and the reinforcement of the regional economy in order:
to support the competitiveness of the region and promote business innovations
to introduce new technologies in the process of SMEs and to support the creation of new enterprises emphasizing in the field of innovative entrepreneurship (startups)
to provide SMEs with access to foreign markets and possibilities for internationalizing their activities
The role of the BIC of Crete is double, on one hand to inform all interested parties of the region (public and private) regarding the opportunities offered by European and national programs, and on the other hand to actively support new entrepreneurs in various business fields emphasizing in the field of innovative, as well as sustainable agricultural entrepreneurship.
BIC of Crete is acting as a local player of entrepreneurship network, leverages organizations and enterprises by providing information and supporting their sustainable development. Furthermore, it acts as a cluster founder in the region, given the technology it has through its association with EBN, which is the mother company that supervises the network of BICs all over Europe and is located in Brussels.
The general mission of the company is to participate, to promote and to execute development and research projects in Greece, the European Union and other state or interstate or international organizations within the framework of activity, support and development for innovative business, while always complying with the existing European standards and specifications. The implementation of its program shall take place in Greece, in the European Union member countries, in developing countries and in any other country worldwide.
In general, within the scope of the company is to reinforce the competitiveness of existing and new enterprises in the region, as well as other organizations of the private and public sector, through technical support. As already mentioned, the assistance of the company may be directed to newly established SMEs (startups) with activity in the agricultural sector, the manufacturing, the service providing sector, the tourism etc., as well as already existing businesses enterprises, associations and organizations that wish to be reorganized by getting advantage of a full range of consulting and educational services.
Taking under consideration the above mission, the objectives of the company are:
The scientific technical support of enterprises, the assistance and the coordination of development planning activities within the Region of Crete, the local Prefectures and Municipalities, Scientific Bodies, Chambers of Commerce, and other organizations, in order to exploit research and technology and secure development based on local, national and European funding research programs, and any other existing programs and initiatives. BIC of Crete has a special interest in the thematic fields of sustainable growth – entrepreneurship, internationalization of enterprises, regional development, social responsibility, employment promotion, energy – environment, tourism – culture.
The provision of incubator services mainly, but not only, to the agricultural sector startup companies, that will contribute to the strengthening of their competitiveness, by offering housing on a rent basis, technical and advisory support, management services, etc., taking advantage of a complete consultancy package. The Business Incubator Unit will deal with innovative companies, in most of the cases startups, which will present their ideas and after a selection process they will be assisted and encouraged to develop.
The supply of education and training services that shall have a local, national, European and international character and will be addressed to farmers, social partners, business people, students, young people, unemployed, business executives active in the private sector, chambers of commerce, social groups, executives of local and regional public bodies, scientific associations and financial institutions. It is anticipated that these education services will contribute to increase flexibility of local workforce and the competitiveness of small and very small businesses. Also, they will contribute to the reduction of local unemployment, to the elimination to a certain extent of the exclusion of social groups, to the protection of human rights and to strengthening of the local communities’ welfare.
One of the most important activities of the Agricultural Business and Innovation Centre of Crete is the employment with European programs in co-operation with other domestic and international development organizations. It is also offering consultancy services, as it is indicated below, to new and existing entrepreneurs. Another gateway of the services offered by this organization is the education and training. It is worth to mention here that BIC of Crete has very modern and excellent infrastructure for educational and training services.
BIC of Crete is designed to offer three basic kinds of services:
1. Consultancy services to both new and existing SMEs
2. Incubator services to new SMEs of all sectors with an emphasis to the agricultural sector
3. Educational and training services
Consultancy services are the core business and very important activity for the BIC of Crete. They cover a wide range of consultancy services on key areas of innovative enterprises, startups and SMEs. Among others the company offers:
Preparation of business plans
Studies on investment projects
Strategic and operational planning
Clusters in agribusiness (mainly export)
Access to funding sources
Access to foreign markets and to international partners search area
Transfer of technology and know-how
Consulting services to the public sector
Organization and leadership of new companies (startups)
Training and education of farmers, professionals and personnel of enterprises
Monitoring of implementing investment projects
Implementation studies of European projects
Specialised reporting – guidance on business issues
Today BIC of Crete employs 4 persons, who have in depth knowledge on business practices, consulting and promotion of internationalization, development and preparation of proposals as well as on the monitoring, evaluation and implementation of transnational European and national programs. Also, it holds a pull of 15 experts with a big variety of specializations, who give their services to BIC of Crete on a project by project basis.
The BICs network
The European Network of EBN (European Business & Innovation Centre Network) established in 1984 by the European Commission’s Directorate General for Regions- DG Regio. EBN is a network of around 150 quality-certified EU|BICs (business and innovation centers) normal members and 100 other organisations that support the development and growth of innovative entrepreneurs, start-ups and SMEs (associated members).
EBN is also a community of professionals whose day-to-day work helps these businesses to grow in the most effective, efficient and sustainable way. It is “an international community of smart and specialized organizations, that connect and coach innovators, entrepreneurs and SMEs, to start, grow and transform our economies”.
EBN is currently the largest network of consulting worldwide and provides to its members and their customers unique advantages in an era of globalised economy. The BICs were gradually developed with the aim of contributing to the performance of the European and National regional policy within the member countries of the European Union, in order to become strong bodies of stimulating entrepreneurship and economic growth.
BICs are recognisable by the BIC trademark which provides a guarantee of quality and a trust seal for the entrepreneurs, as all the centres are certified for their compliance to a set of standards known as the EU|BIC Quality Mark Criteria.
As the EBN network consists of 150 quality certified members and more than 100 associate members, it is rather easy for the BIC of Crete to organise projects and develop consortiums along with other BICs, growing enterprises and European institutions.
A series of regular online activities contribute to the acquisition of transversal information among BIC members, on issues of their interest, as well as to the close collaboration between the BICs of different countries.