In 2022 the Cypriot economy saw a strong post-pandemic recovery, however, factors such as high inflation and the energy crisis may lead to a slowdown in growth for 2023.

As Aristos Philis, CEO of KeelX notes, the marine technology sector has seen an increase in the adoption of digital technology solutions and consolidation activity through mergers and acquisitions.

For 2023, it expects to see continued growth in the sector due to environmental protection regulatory pressures and China’s politics.

To increase Cyprus’ business potential and competitiveness, it proposes to focus on attracting and retaining talent, improving social and political stability, and reforming the judicial and public administration systems.

In his interview, he also talks about KeelX’s vision of a fully carbonized, safe and optimized shipping industry.

How would you assess 2022 and what are your predictions for 2023, both for the Cypriot economy and for your industry in particular?

Despite the geopolitical crises surrounding 2022, the Cypriot economy has shown a steady post-pandemic recovery, largely due to our participation in the Eurozone and surprisingly strong tourism. However, high inflation, the intensifying energy crisis in Europe and Cyprus’ high exposure to Russia, I estimate will lead to a slowdown in growth in Cyprus in 2023. This, however, can serve as an impetus to diversify our economy beyond the traditional sectors.

In terms of our marine technology industry, 2022 showed promising features. We have witnessed an increasing number of shipping companies exploring and adopting digital technology solutions to optimize operations, improve transparency and regulate fleet emissions. In addition, 2022 saw a flurry of activity with numerous M&A transactions announced. This is a trend that I expect to continue in 2023 due to numerous synergies and risk mitigation strategies.

In 2023, with the strong combination of regulatory pressures to protect the planet and the imminent end of China’s zero covid policy, I expect a boost in the digital sector. We will continue to see more and more shipping companies form new departments and jobs, solely focused on optimizing technology-driven and decarbonized fleet performance.

Have you identified new growth opportunities and what do you propose to increase the business potential and competitiveness of Cyprus?

The digitization of shipping in general has shown enormous growth potential. There is a growing need and pressure to improve the flow and use of real-time data between people and assets across the entire shipping supply chain.

Improving the quality and quantity of data flowing between ships and offices can help us improve the welfare and well-being of our people at sea, optimize operations and processes, and achieve our goals of getting rid of coal.

Combining the effective use of artificial intelligence with decision-making in shipping can help us achieve amazing social, environmental and economic benefits.

Cyprus, specifically Limassol, is part of the established list of the most important global shipping hubs and can play an important role in the digitization of the sector. However, in my opinion, the key to enhancing international competitiveness and success is attracting and retaining talent.

The talent market in 2022 globally has been incredibly competitive and while Cypriot businesses alone may qualify to attract new talent with their flexible plans, growth opportunities, diversity and inclusion, I believe it is time for the policy makers to review strategy and implement policies that will help our communities achieve higher sustainability scores.

We need to strengthen the fundamental factors of sustainability, such as our social and political stability and the wider availability of cultural, recreational and entertainment options. While at the same time accelerating the reform of the judiciary and public administration systems to achieve a more efficient, less expensive and modern digitalized governance environment.

Surely we can take inspiration from the world’s most sustainable cities and recreate an environment that attracts rare great talent and of course reverse the local brain drain.

There is a remarkable relationship between the quality of talent and business performance and I am confident that if we get the former right, then Cyprus’ business potential and competitiveness will increase dramatically.

What are some of your personal ambitions and what is your vision for your company in the coming years?

At KeelX, our vision is to witness a fully liberalized, secure and optimized shipping industry and know that our technologies have been instrumental in achieving this goal.

My personal ambitions are fully aligned with the mission and vision of the company, so we will continue to promote research, innovation and production of solutions and services in-house, as well as supporting local workshops and partners who share our ambitions.

We are proud to operate entirely from Cyprus, while our solutions and services have a global audience and we aspire to help our island achieve its goal of becoming a world-class technology hub, attractive to global players who can compete internationally from here.