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8 Greek innovators defying the odds

Helix founder Nick Arapkoules

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In Greece, solar water heaters are a mainstay for consumers. About 90 percent of households have them, but they are pricey, at 700 to 1,000 euros a pop. Seeing a niche in the market, two young mechanical engineers that met at an Athens-based incubator called The EGG — Nick Arapkoules, 27, and Panos Papadiamantis, 25 — hatched an idea for a device that converts thermal energy from such devices and turns it into electricity, providing a reduction of up to 30 percent in a household's annual electricity costs. The global market for such a device is huge. Worldwide, 200 million solar water heaters have been installed, 70 percent of which are in China.

After winning a Hellenic Entrepreneurship Award in 2015, the entrepreneurs got a 300,000 euro loan they are using to develop their prototype at the National Technical University of Athens. Additionally, they have raised 150,000 euro from an angel investor in the U.S.

Plans are to go into production next summer and sell Heliix worldwide.

Pictured: Nick Arapkoules, founder and CEO of Heliix

Marios Polyzogopoulos | CNBC