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Is Greece missing an opportunity to turn to innovation-driven entrepreneurship?

Projections for the economy in Greece are dire. Economic recovery is not certain, and when it comes, it will certainly be long and painful. And despite BloombergView stating, "While not out of the woods, Greece’s large banks seem to be showing signs of life," there’s still widespread unemployment and an overall bleak outlook.

Phil Budden, Senior Lecturer at MIT Sloan, argues in Fortune that the current fiscal crisis can be turned into an opportunity for the country. Budden recommends the country and its people follow the advice of Winston Churchill by "never letting a crisis go to waste." Greece might follow the example of other countries that have struggled economically, and it could begin to "gradually shift its focus away from macroeconomic problems and toward the task of creating an innovation ecosystem."

Budden’s article points out that Greece is well positioned to embrace innovation and entrepreneurship: the Greek diaspora has provided the world with many business success stories. The country also has a strong history of higher education and a foundation for delivering world-class research, both of which are fundamental to creating a successful track record of innovation-driven entrepreneurial ventures.

Research at MIT Sloan, and the lessons taught through its capstone Regional Entrepreneurship Acceleration Program (REAP), confirm that an economic crisis or shock can often lead to greater entrepreneurship, if the foundations for innovation are there. Perhaps instead of just trying to extend bailouts, and simply focus on the money at the heart of the debt problem, Greece could try something new--creating an innovation ecosystem upon which its entrepreneurial people can start to rebuild its economy.

Dr. Phil Budden is a Senior Lecturer at MIT Sloan. He served for many years as Her Britannic Majesty’s Consul General to New England, and now teaches at MIT Sloan about innovation ecosystems, especially the role of governments and corporates.  REAP is a capstone Executive Education program for regions (and smaller countries) that wish to learn more from MIT about how to strengthen their innovation ecosystem and accelerate entrepreneurship.

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