Entrepreneurship and developing Greece's digital 'ecosystem' were the focus of speakers at Facebook's "Boost Your Business" event at the 83rd Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF) on Friday, as part of the US participation in TIF as the honoured country.

Digital Policy, Communications and Media Minister Nikos Pappas used the event as a platform to announce that the electronic General Commercial Registry (e-GEMI) will be inviting offers for a project to allow 130,000 Greek businesses to receive a remote digital signature. This will enable them to submit their balance sheets electronically and bypass many bureaucratic obstacles, he said.

He noted that the GEMI business portal was a major step that the government was taking in collaboration with Greece's Central Union of Chambers.

"Starting up a business in Greece is already a very simple process that can take mere minutes. What we want, with this project and with the single digital portal that will be based on the electronic transfer of documents to the state sector, as well as an interoperability hub for al points of the public sector, is for this to function as a one-stop shop," he said.

Once up and running, Pappas said, companies would no longer have to submit the same documents repeatedly to different state services, which would be able to access the necessary paperwork through the system.

The minister underlined the need for Greek businesses to begin fully exploiting the tools provided by new technologies, noting that the percentage of Greek enterprises using digital and internet tools currently ranked at just one third of the EU average on the Digital Economy and Society Index.

The event was also addressed by main opposition New Democracy's shadow digital policy minister Anna-Michelle Asimakopoulou, who said that Greece needed a "digital 'Delta' force" where the delta stood for digital skills, high-speed networks, public sector and big data.

She outlined the party's policies in these areas - including the digital transformation of the state sector and contracting procedures - and noted that this digital transformation of Greece could generate an additional 4 pct of GDP and 50,000 jobs, based on estimates in a survey by the Federation of Hellenic Enterprises (SEV)