Vamvakou Incubator

In the village of Vamvakou in Lakonia, we are creating a business centre, a shared collaborative space promoting the development of ideas, as part of the Vamvakou Revival initiative implemented with the exclusive support of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF). Our vision is to create a model mountain business centre and bring together people with passion and dreams, interested start-ups, as well as business teams that wish to contribute to the revitalization of the Greek countryside and build their own future through the implementation of a sustainable business idea. Vamvakou Incubator will be operating as a growth centre and a lever for the attraction of new business activity in the area, giving answers to problems by supporting new service/product/solution development, while contributing significantly to the revitalization, as well as to the qualitative upgrade of the economy in the wider area of Mount Parnon and the region of the Peloponnese. The Programme supports ideas, individuals or groups in order to be able process their business idea, create a new business or develop an already existing one.

In collaboration with Impact Hub Athens.

At a glance…

1st Cycle of the Business Support and Hosting Programme in Vamvakou Incubator

53 total applications, 10 selected business ideas

Total of selected beneficiaries: 5 businesses to be established in Vamvakou and 5 businesses to be established in the region of the Peloponnese

4 main pillars of action: Agrifood, Tourism, Culture, Innovation/Technology

Application Evaluation Results

The business proposals, the teams, the ideas or the persons that qualified and were selected to join the Program are:

Our Vibe is Mountains (Tourism): Organization of wellness sports activities and design of alternative tourism activities through naturalistic, hiking and other sports activities. Michalis and Kalliopi say that “their goal is to connect humans with nature and contribute to the revival of Vamvakou through integrated athletic services”, while stressing that they were “city kids who took a leap to escape to the mountains and live their dream”.

Heartkadia (Tourism): A proposal concerning eco-tourism. Creation of a multifunctional ecosystem in Alepochori, Arcadia, focusing on organic farming. Athena Lamberis tells us that “we use agrotourism as a bridge to connect with the environment. Healthy soil means healthy people. “

Destination Sparta (Tourism): Creation of a self-sufficient enterprise that will operate as a network of “clusters” of businesses for the promotion of Laconian products, traditional flavors, gastronomy and culture of the region through the development of the gastronomic tourist product of Laconia and its emergence as a sustainable Agri-Food Destination. The group emphasizes that through this project: “the aim is to connect the abundant experiences available which are currently offered on an individual basis in the region.”

Metabolio (Tourism): Promotion of medical & wellness tourism through services related to nutritional health and body weight issues. Manolopoulos Konstantinos, representative of the team says that: “Our vision is to offer a better quality of life to people suffering from obesity through a telemedicine platform. We provide access to scientific-based treatments through the Vamvakou Incubator.”

Isonom (Agri-food/Innovation): An independent energy community based on solar hydroponics. “We offer technological solutions for sustainability by leveraging solar energy. At Vamvakou Incubator we learn to work together as a team,” said team spokesman Pieter van Ysseldijk.

Callisto (Tourism): A proposal in the area of scientific and educational tourism, providing an integrated experience of hands-on activities in Astronomy, Astrophysics and Environmental Sciences. The representative of the team and astrophysicist, Metallinou Fiori-Anastasia, says that the idea aims “to provide activities a high scientific level and the creation of a science-themed park for the communication of science with the general public, but also to create future scientists in various peripheral regions as well.”

Tsimpidis Parnonas Winery (Agri-food): Winery and mountain vineyards in Parnonas. The team shares with us that: “The source of inspiration has been the revival of varieties that have been lost throughout the years. The aim is to produce unique wines in Parnonas. Vamvakou Incubator helps us develop our business plan.”

GEO+MAR / Xerakia Maria (Tourism): A business proposal concerning culinary tourism and the promotion of Greek Tourism as a product and especially in the region of Leonidio and its Culture through gastronomy.

Mermigka Maria (Tourism): The creation of a small grocery store in the village of Vamvakou Lakonia.

Crafting Culture / Chatzi Katerina (Culture): An entity that will focus on strengthening modern crafts, rescuing and reviving material and intangible cultural heritage, integrating diverse audiences and inclusiveness.

Kick-off Event

The Vamvakou Incubator kick-off meeting occurred on Friday 03.03.2023, that not only marked the opening of the incubator operations, but also the beginning of a new business community that will join its creative forces with activities that will take place in the region of Peloponnese.

The meeting took place at the school of Vamvakou where the beneficiaries (ideas, entrepreneurs and business teams), Impact Hub Athens and Vamvakou Revival partners attended. During the meeting, the Vamvakou Revival initiative was presented, attendees got to know each other playing an ice braker game, opinions and ideas about Vamvakou were exchanged, expectations from their participation in the incubator program as well as their contributions were expressed, but also connections and potential collaborations between them were identified. The beneficiaries were informed of the next steps, the start of the program as well as their benefits and obligations. The event closed with a “get-to-know-you-better” meal and gathering at the restaurant-cafe Voureiko.

Business ideas presentation

On Wednesday April 3rd, 2024, during a meeting which was held at the school of Vamvakou, the participating teams were invited to present their business idea, but also how showcase how their business activities will enhance the overall development of Vamvakou and the Peloponnese Region. Guests who attended this meeting included representatives from the Stavros Niarchos Foundation, the Vice-Regional Governor of Laconia, Mr. Veroutis, the Mayor of Sparta, Mr. Vakalopoulos, representatives of Anaptyxiaki Parnonas, coaches and experts from the business world who can contribute to the development of entrepreneurs. It was a great honor to also have Myrto Papathanou, Co-founder and Partner at Metavallon VC, member of the applicant evaluation committee.

The source of inspiration of the teams to venture in the Peloponnese may possible differ – “to create personalized experiences and promote their local home town”, “to offer a better quality of life to people with obesity through virtual medical support applications”, “to connect humans with nature”, “to return multisensory experiences to our lives and connect with the environment”, “to revive grape vine varieties that have been lost”, “to utilize solar energy and technology to achieve sustainability” or “to communicate science to the general public” – but the business incubator in Vamvakou for all participants is a unique opportunity for brighter future. A leverage for “communication, interaction, knowledge, networking and finding partners”, a way to “learn to work as a team”, a structure that gives them the opportunity to “shape their business plan”, the community through which “important friendships” are created and a driving force “to change their lifestyle, leaving the city behind and fleeing to the mountains to live their dream”!

What does the Programme offer?

– Free integrated business support.

– Workspace for the period of support for the 5 businesses to be established in Vamvakou and access to equipment (computers, fast internet, offices, printers and electronic equipment).

– Training workshops, programmes, seminars and individual and group sessions of business coaching with specialized consultants, coaches and mentors.

– Networking with pivotal bodies, organizations and investors for the development of entrepreneurship and the distinct business ideas.

– Free consulting and monitoring from third parties (legal, accounting and managerial support, company establishment process, branding-corporate identity design, webpage, social networks).

– Support to find a house in the area of Vamvakou.

– Support to find potential sources of financing.

1st Cycle Assessment Committee

The proposals submitted was assessed by the Assessment Committee, comprising members of external partners of Vamvakou Revival. The Committee examined thoroughly and assessed the proposal submitted according to the criteria specified and then proceeds with a personal interview and presentation of the proposal by the candidate/s that will be benefiting from the Programme to decide eventually the incorporation, or not, of the proposal to the Programme. The members of the evaluation committee of Vamvakou Incubator are renowned professionals throughout the spectrum of specializations and sectors covered by the incubator. Giorgos Koumendakis from the field of Culture, Effie Lazaridou from the Agrifood sector, Sophie Lambrou from the sector of entrepreneurship, Myrto Papathanou from the field of Investment & Innovation and Manolis Psarros from the field of Tourism are those that will be evaluating the applications/ideas for incorporation in the 1st Cycle of the Support and Hosting Programme of the incubator. We would like to warmly thank them for their help!

Assessment criteria

The assessment criteria are classified as follows:

Business proposal value. The project must involve a clearly specified business/social/environmental challenge and an explicitly stated solution/idea addressing the challenge.

Viability. The project must have explicitly specified target group, services/products/solutions provided and projected revenue stream, ensuring its financial viability.

Business team. The team or individual to be incorporated in the Programme must have related previous experience, knowledge and skills in the sector of activation and a strong vision towards the realization of the idea.

Growth perspective. The business idea must contribute to cover the needs of the local population or/and address the problems, challenges and opportunities of the wider area. In the case of the businesses to be established in Vamvakou, the contribution of the proposal to the Revival will be also taken into consideration.

Footprint & Ecosystem. Creation of job opportunities, provision of fair labour relations, establishment of complementary relations with existing organizations in Vamvakou, the wider area and the region of the Peloponnese, incorporation in the ecosystem.

Apart from the above assessment criteria, it is the procedure of the interview, presentation and support of the business proposal by the candidate that will determine the end result.

With the support of

The business incubator forms part of the ESPA – Peloponnesus Program 2021-2027 co-funded by the European Union.

Vamvakou Incubator is supported by the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF), as part of the Vamvakou Revival initiative.