In Cyprus, the entrepreneurial ecosystem is brand new, and lessons learned from the EU-funded Early Stage Investing Launchpad (ESIL) programme are being used to inform government policy decisions for the common good.


Peter Lazou, a venture builder, investor and innovation expert who also acts as an advisor to Gravity incubator in Cyprus said: “The Cyprus ecosystem is very embryonic. You have to remember it’s a very small island of just about 800,000 people. And the island’s been suffocated in a cloud of buzzwords: everyone’s an investor, entrepreneur, serial entrepreneur, everyone has a startup, everyone wants to build an accelerator, but the fact is that there’s a lot of fluff and naivety around it.” 

The Early Stage Investor Launchpad aims to provide angel investors and startup ecosystem builders with the tools they need to generate a thriving startup investment community throughout Europe. The Launchpad runs a suite of activities including in-person training courses, webinars, study visits and e-pitching events, all geared towards developing the European angel investment and crowdfunding ecosystem. For each European country, there is a local leader who coordinates ESIL activities and spreads the word about ESIL amongst their networks.   

Panayiotis Philimisthe managing director of Cyprus Research and Innovation Centre and Gravity Ventures Incubator and local leader for ESIL, said that he advised the Cypriot government on entrepreneurial policy based on what he learned during an ESIL Study Visit. 

“The Cypriot government is looking for advice on policies that would foster the entrepreneurial ecosystem,” he said. In Cyprus there seems to be a lack of angel investment coming out, and the Cyprus angel investment scene is in its infancy  

“The Study Visits (run by ESIL) were very helpful for us. At the moment we are creating suggestions for our government to implement. It’s very important to learn from the best in Europe at implementing serious and innovative incentives for angel investment and in general investment for start-ups, especially for an early ecosystem such as Cyprus.”  

Philimis and Lazou attended two Study Visits organized by ESIL, one in Paris and one in Milan. During these Study Visits, participants have the opportunity to learn from countries with a well-established history of angel investing. They can gain insights into how the ecosystem first began to flourish – what political instruments were put in place, how the first angel clubs were formed, what obstacles were faced and how they were overcome.  

Learning about the history of angel investment in this way is especially useful to countries that are currently facing the same hurdles that more established countries faced several years ago. In this way, the newer countries can avoid making the same mistakes made by their predecessors.  

“For me, where ESIL adds value is the Study Visits,” said Lazou, who has also attended two study visits so far. “They are interesting in terms of (learning about) the angel forums and how they work and how to collaborate more closely.” 

“My vision for Cyprus in terms of investment is that the right instruments from the government are placed properly so that we have both investments from angel level, seed and follow-up level. I think that the most important is to start with the government,” said Philimis.