For example, we started developing an innovative and promising drug against Parkinson’s disease, particular in the more severe form of the illness. This sort of investment, just as an idea, is about €4 million. And we see that investors, Greeks and from abroad, trust in this business endeavour. Did we succeed in what we wanted? So far, we did. We combined innovation and entrepreneurship of the so called “undisciplined Greek” with hard work and efficiency. The result are solid products and potentially high profits.
Our management team is composed of Greeks, Germans, Swiss, Canadian, and Americans. It is a multi-cultural team from different cultures who have experience in the field. We have this open freethinking approach in advancing the industry. For business reasons, we also have a foot in Switzerland. Obviously not all Greeks with business in Switzerland are looking for tax shelters. Switzerland is the Mecca of the pharmaceutical world. We had to attract business there and it is working. The bad thing was that due to being greek we carried a negative stigma and the first question often was: do you do “greek statistics”. But let me point it out: that's something that politicians may have done—it does not reflect today’s business mentality in Greece.
Goldman Sachs co-wrote the greek statistics.
Stergiou: Exactly. Greeks did not do that alone. And it came to an abrupt end now. The other good development: Germans want to work with Greece. In my personal humble opinion: Germans are Philhellenes. They want to collaborate with us. Being here only for a few years I can say, there was a lot of dirt in Greece, but now with great pain and sacrifice, the dust has sort of settled. What we can see now are true diamonds that shine brightly.
One wouldn’t expect digital oder medical industry in greece.
Stergiou: Greece is not just about tourism and shipping, I am extremely proud that we have grown tremendously; huge companies out of the US, out of China, the leading pharmaceutical companies—we are now establishing business relations with them. Greece can position itself in a particular market of medical and research expertise. We are blessed with a considerable intellectual capital. We have a highly educated population with emphasis on mathematics and sciences. In the medical sector, Greeks of the diaspora have returned to Greece because they have been offered positions: what they have done outside Greece, we now do it in Greece.
Is medicine a crisis business?
Stergiou: We have noticed an increase in the rates of depression and suicide but we must look very carefully at all those numbers before we can make instant conclusions. As you may imagine, an increased rate of depression and a huge trade of sexually transmitted diseases are probably directly and indirectly related to the economic crisis. People are less careful. They literally are just not aware of these things. If you detect HIV, for instance, early enough, you can actually cure it. We have the European approved HIV kit that within one minute of the test allows with 99.8 procent accuracy to see if you are HIV positive or negative. Last year more than 200 prostitutes were detected with that kit of being positive. Especially during In a crisis you desperately need such innovations.