Implementing Change

Cyprus Startup Manifesto Implementation 2016

If there’s a single thing characterizing all entrepreneurs across the world is that they are doers. Moving fast and breaking things. Changing things. One thing’s for sure. They don’t just bitch. They do. Or bitch and do. But definetely DO.

So when you are in a small but beautiful island in the South Eastern corner of the Mediterranean, with less than a million inhabitants, post 2013 financial crisis, what exactly do you do to change things?

Unite and Do. That’s what you Do.

Inspired by the European Startup Manifesto, the local startup ecosystem of Cyprus united, crowdsourced and curated the Cyprus Startup Manifesto guided by a simple yet prawevoking and definetely inspiring vision. To Startup Cyprus.

Being naturally startup minded, we, the startup and innovation ecosystem of Cyprus, believed we should not let a good crisis go to waste. The challenges our economy was facing, were a perfect opportunity for reform in order to come back stronger, and materialize our vision to Startup Cyprus.

So basically, the startup and innovation ecosystem of Cyprus came together, united in its efforts to support the vision to Startup Cyprus.

Drawn from the combined experience of Cypriots who were lucky enough to imagine, build, grow and support successful businesses — innovative, competitive businesses that create jobs — we distilled the following actions which, taken together, can give Cypriot businesses the best chance of future success.

Cyprus Startup Manifesto Recommendations

We then called on entrepreneurs, investors, advisors, the government and other stakeholders across the country to engage in this dialogue and share their views on the manifesto to help move us towards the adoption of this singular digital growth plan for Cyprus.

And they did come forth pledging their support.

Government Ministers signed the Manifesto and even better, we worked closely with the Reform team under the Presidency and incorporated the Startup Manifesto in the National Policy Statement for Entrepreneurship.

One thing we know as entrepreneurs is that manifestos and statements are nada without implementation.

Fast forward a year and let’s see how’s implementation going.

Overall Cyprus Startup Manifesto Implementation is at 33%

for the Manifesto’s 10 recommendations, 29 actions and total of 71 sub action points.

Specifically,

Cyprus Startup Manifesto Implementation

Or if you prefer, here’s a more graphical view of the implementation:

A third is not great. Its not bad either. But it definetely is a great start.

And this is not just rhetoric. It is very telling of the philosophy underlying our measurement methodology. We opted for a binary approach (one can say, pun intended), 0 if nothing was done - no action started, 1 if something was done. Now “something” is definetely not a 100%. And here comes the philosophy of our approach. The actions never end really; they start and continue. Take Recommendation “Governement as an Enabler”. Do we ever want a governement to stop being an enabler to entrepreneurship? Once the actions start and are being implemented the point is to change the mindset, the modus operanti.

The ultimate goal is “Government as an enabler” of entrepreneruship to be the modus operanti in perpetuity.

Same with recommendation “Developing New Skills and Competences”, which saw a whooping implementation of proposed actions at 75%.

Rec. 1 Developing New Skills and Competences

The sub action for example calling to embrace Junior Achievement Cyprus and similar initiatives teaching entrepreneurship values in schools is achieved and will continue. Same with the action calling for coding lessons which was also initiated, teaching over 700 kids programing and robotics. These actions are the beginning.

Same with

Recommendation #2 “Cultivating Entrepreneruship Culture” at 50% implementation

Rec. 2 Cultivating Entrepreneurship Culture

Recommendation #3 “Availability & Attraction of Talent” at 33% implementation

Rec. 3 Availability & Attraction of Talent

Recommendation #4 “Government as an Enabler” at 40% implementation

Rec. 4 Governement as an Enabler

Recommendation #5 “Acess to Capital” at 23% implementation

Rec. 5 Access to Capital

The most important action implemented is the startup investment incentives in the tax law effective as of January 1st, 2017.

Specifically, the incentives provide for the following:
  • exemption of the investment from the investor’s taxable income ( up to a maximum amount of 50% of the taxable income);
  • deduction of up to €150,000 per year and the right of allocation and distribution of the discount in a 5 (five) year period. In other words, the beneficiary investor has the right to allocate the above proportionally in his/her tax returns.
  • Investment in shares, loans, or granting guarantees to innovative startup companies.

To be considered innovative, a company must have spent 10% of its operating expenses on research and development in at least one of the last three years, as verified by an external auditor. For startups with no financial history the assessment will be made based on a business plan.

Recommendations #6 “Mentoring & Support” at 25% implementation

Rec. 6 Mentoring & Support

Actions for recommentations #7 “Access to RDI Infrastructure”, #8 “Developing synergies and opening Markets”, #9 “Supporting Outreach Activities” and #10 “Boosting Exports” have not being initiated in 2016.

As I said, this is only the beginning. Which is half of the job one may say.

What’s to come

We now move into 2017 enhancing the manifesto with new recommendations and feeding them into the National Policy Statement for Entrepreneurship priorities for 2017. Startup Cyprus is represented on the Implementation Watchdog Committee of the Policy Statement’s actions (full disclosure: the author of the present article is said representative) along with other stakeholders. Together we work on monitoring and measuring implementation and ultimately impact.

Coming up soon, the 2017 recommendations complementing the Cyprus Startup Manifesto. Watch this space as they say. We are also working on visualizing and presenting the implementation progress of the National Policy Statement.