Financial Times; 27, Nov 2001
Hyperion Systems Engineering, a fast-growing Cyprus-based provider of high-tech services for manufacturers and processors, is preparing to make the most of an unexpected opportunity.
Hyperion Systems Engineering, a fast-growing Cyprus-based provider of high-tech services for manufacturers and processors, is preparing to make the most of an unexpected opportunity. Following the terrorist attacks on the US, fewer US companies are looking for business in the Middle East. At the same time, the region's oil refiners and chemicals producers require increased technical support, says Symeon Kassianides, Hyperion's founder and chief executive. "There's a demand for proximity. Companies don't want to be serviced out of Houston any more, so people have to be accessible. We're considering setting up a subsidiary in Dubai," he says. Mr Kassianides, a MIT-trained chemical engineer, says his ambition was to set up a leading-edge technology company based in Cyprus. "If it didn't work after two or three years I could go back to the US and start over," he says. Eight years later Hyperion is preparing to offer services across the region. Its shareholders include Aspen Technology of the US, the Cyprus Development Bank, and CLR Investment Fund, a local venture capital fund. Hyperion started as a software developer, working on specialised applications for Aspen products, but transformed itself into a services company after its US partners changed strategy. "We went on to use Aspen technology to deliver project solutions," Mr Kassianides says. As a service-provider, the focus shifted to developing custom-built training simulators for the process industry that could be used for training operators, troubleshooting and improving safety procedures. Hyperion has since diversified into providing supply chain management services, and custom-made advanced process control systems for the petroleum and chemicals industries. Customers have included Dow Chemicals, Bayer, Texaco, Qatar Gas, BP and Royal Dutch/Shell. Last year Hyperion took another leap forward, Mr Kassianides says. "We've added a new family of services that's enterprise-oriented rather than process manufacturing-oriented." Through its enterprise resource planning division, Hyperion aims to provide high-tech services for companies in Greece and Cyprus which must modernise rapidly in order to stay competitive. Hyperion's workforce has grown from 20 to more than 100 in the past three years and has set up an office in Athens to expand its reach. Turnover is projected to double this year to Dollars 4.8m, with net profits of about Dollars 1m, Mr Kassianides says. "We've grown at a rate of 100 per cent a year for the past three years," he adds. "It's a challenge to handle this rate of growth and keep going. But with so much investment planned by the petroleum industry, the Gulf region offers a big opportunity."