Press Conference | Ministry Agriculture & Food: ABF2019 Agenda announcement, Masterclass call for participation

Press Release

AgriBusiness Forum 2019

Program announcement & call for applications for participation to the Masterclass on agri-entrepreneurship

The agenda of the 2nd international AgriBusiness Forum under the topic “The future of agriculture in the digital era” to be held in Serres-Greece 1-2/11/2019, was presented during a press conference conducted by the Hellenic Ministry of Agriculture and Food on Wednesday September 18th 2019.

AgriBusiness Forum agro-technology premier event is held under the auspices of the Ministry of Agriculture and Food and focuses on advancing knowledge for the modernization & digital transformation of the agrifood value chain from seed to fork. Its intriguing agenda features 8 content driven sessions, oriented to the production, processing and distribution of sustainable and value-added agrifood products in the digital era.

AgriBusiness Forum 2019 topics promoting Precision Agriculture & Artificial Intelligence, Smart livestock farming,

Agri & Eco-tourism, Financial instruments, Plant biodiversity and certification in Greece, Policies for sustainable agrifood systems in the EU, Greece and the Balkans, Synergies between Academia-Research and Businesses.

AgriBusiness Forum spans across 5 modules integrated into 1 event, being: 1) a Masterclass on entrepreneurship, 2) a Challenge on innovation, 3) the ago-technology Conference, 4) a Field Visit and 5) Networking & Social activities

Among its 60 distinguished speakers are the Minister of Agriculture and Food, Makis Voridis and the leadership of the Ministry of Agriculture and Food, Minister of Tourism, Haris Theocharis, and Minister of Infrastructure and Transport, Kostas Karamanlis.

Furthermore number of specialists from Greece, Europe, US representatives of business, research and academia will address this year’s sessions, namely Geert Wilms (Netherlands LIB/ZLTO Producers Organization), Dr. Vassiliou (Yale University), Ambassador Christides (BSEC), Gregory Pfleger (US Consul General), Panos Theodorou (Eurobank), Effie Kokoreli (Interamerican), Alexandros Dimitrakopoulos (EIF), Augusta Vrachnou (EBRD), Eleni Maloupa (Hellenic Agricultural Organization-Demeter), Dr. Papadopoulos (American Farm School), Nikos Thymakis (Institute of Agronomic Sciences), Dr. Oudemans (Rutgers University), Dr. Vlachos (Laboratory of Statistics & Quantitative Analysis Methods AUTh) and many more.

AgriBusiness Forum 2019 is co-organized with the Regional Unit of Serres and Serres Chamber of Commerce, will be attended by 200 hi-level delegates (farmers, leading business, financial services, academia and the public sector), it partners with an extensive network of scientific organizations (ICBSS, Institute of Agricultural Sciences, HAO-Demeter, LASCM, A&M Texas, Rutgers, American Farm School, being many of them Agenda developers) and is sponsored by Interamerican, Eurobank, Alpha Bank, Karcher, Siris Microbrewery etc. 

To boost entrepreneurship and innovation, a complimentary Masterclass will be offered to early stage agrifood innovative scaleups within the framework of the conference (29-31/10/2019). Masterclass 2019 is implemented by AgriBusiness Forum designated scientific partners being the Hellenic Agricultural Organization-Demeter, the Institute of Agronomic Sciences, the American Farm School and the Laboratory of Quantitative Analysis, Logistics & Supply Chain Management AUTh.

Agrifood innovative scaleups with passion to lift-off, disrupt the market, grow globally and create positive impact on agricultural systems are invited to apply to the Masterclass by Friday, October 4, 2019, through the AgriBusiness Forum official website (Masterclass). Masterclass participants will be offered free of charge attendance to 4 workshops, participation to the Challenge, the agro-technology conference, the field visit program, 5 meals and transportation (Serres KTEL) from Athens or Thessaloniki to Serres and vice versa.


Athens, 18 September 2019

Useful links

Contact person: Ms. Christina Mangou, 2102845980,


Insights by UBS Chief Investment Office on Family Business

Family businesses can be found all over the world and comprise small local businesses, small- and medium-sized companies that typically are the backbone of many economies, as well as well-known large global listed players.

According to market surveys, family businesses represent two-thirds of all businesses worldwide, generate over 70% of world GDP and account for 50%–80% of jobs in many countries. The European Family Businesses Organization states that family businesses account for between 60% and 90% of all companies in various countries within Europe and for 40%-50% of the region’s private employment. In Greece, family-owned businesses represent over 80% of the local business community and contribute significantly to the growth of the Greek economy, having survived the financial crisis with remarkable results.


Which are the main characteristics of a successful family business?

 “If it is good for the company, it is good for the family too.” – André Hoffmann, vice-chairman of Roche and fourth generation of the founder once said. Entrepreneurs create or acquire a business, develop and grow it and transfer it to the next generations as a legacy. While the growth of the business is underpinned by its family values and governance, aligning family values and management culture is often a rather challenging task. Family owned businesses regardless of their size or industry and geographic region they operate in, tend to have some common characteristics that are key success factors over the long-term and are the following:

  • Entrepreneurship
  • Long-term vision, strategy and commitment to stakeholders
  • Wealth creation and preservation over generations
  • Family values and family governance
  • Alignment of interests between business and family
  • Combination of ownership, control and management
  • Concentration of the family wealth in the company
  • Good relationships with stakeholders and trustworthiness to build a good reputation in society
  • Challenges include governance issues, family conflicts over money, succession, and nepotism.

The most successful businesses incorporate strong family values and have established firm family institutions to manage the family’s interests. Family governance helps to protect guiding values and mitigate conflict. This helps when non-financial, emotional goals influence the actions of the family, e.g. if they want to keep the control over the company. At the same time family businesses that address succession and family wealth planning early can reduce risk and ensure a smooth succession through fair and clear family internal planning and by welcoming external advice from trusted friends and professional advisors.


What are the major risks when investing in a family business?

Company size

Family businesses are tilted toward smaller companies. Smaller-cap stocks have higher business risks and price volatility than large caps.

Market liquidity

If the family owns a large stake in the company the free-float may be limited, which can make the stock liquid and subject to above average price volatility. Tapping financial markets for fresh equity and debt tends to be harder and costlier for companies with limited stock market liquidity.

Family conflicts

Family members might put the company in danger through personal conflict. To mitigate this risk, families need to have a governance framework to manage potential conflicts and a family council which helps to address and resolve issues.

Governance issues

Family companies could potentially face governance issues as control is in the hands of a few persons/family members.

Succession risks

Succession is one of the main threats all family businesses face as they need to manage the transfer of ownership and generational change, which often have an emotional component. Succession planning is therefore key to mitigate the risks, which include questions around transfer of wealth, ownership and leadership, and legal and tax issues.

Country and intra-sector risks

The intrasector exposure (sub-sectors within the sectors), is less balanced than in the MSCI AC World. Good diversification and active investment management can mitigate this risk, however.

Economic, recession and disruption risks

Family businesses face the same economic, recession and disruption risks as their non-family-run peers do. However, smaller companies and emerging markets tend to be more sensitive to economic trends than others.


How can entrepreneurs ensure a successful and sustainable business?

  • Reputation: It is important that the values, interests and visions of the family are aligned, as their reputations are interwoven. Fair employment practices and support for social efforts prove both family and business are engaged and care. Demonstrating commitment to stakeholders can help businesses keep good employees, find new talent and develop sustainably.
  • Innovation: It is more vital than ever to focus on innovation and consider partnerships that are of mutual benefit given elevated disruption risks, for example from digitalization.
  • Business plan and governance: As a company grows and is passed on to the next generation, it is essential to document both the business plan and governance properly. Keeping these in the head of the founder may work only in the early years of a company’s existence.
  • Succession: A succession plan should be well documented and prepared early to avoid stress, company breakup or even bankruptcy in a worst-case scenario. Although most entrepreneurs want to build a legacy, they tend to under-manage their succession. This may happen abruptly in the case of an accident or the death of the head of the family, which may lead to a dangerous leadership vacuum or to family disputes.
  • Delegation of responsibilities: Build and expand the organizational structure as the business grows and delegate responsibilities to enable and motivate the workforce, and to free up sufficient time to manage the firm.
  • Nepotism: It is important to keep nepotism in check to sustain a strong reputation as well as high management and workforce capabilities.
  • Capital inflexibility: Family businesses need to spend wisely and maintain financial flexibility in the balance sheet given more limited access to liquid financial markets and to keep control over the company.

It is said that, if you can raise a family, then you can build a business; Similarly, to your family, your family business is what you inherited or created, it is also what you aspire into building further and carrying it forward for the generations to come.


Chief Investment Office, UBS Global Wealth Management

Philippe Müller, Head Investment Themes, CIO