MIRC NTUA is the only higher educational research center devoted to the study of mountainous areas, in Greece; one of the most mountainous countries (75%) in EU. Since its initiation, in 1993, and mostly after the foundation of the MSc Programme “Environment and Development of Mountainous Areas”, in 2008, MIRC is an open laboratory in Metsovo, for mountains. All these years, it has established long-term relations with mountainous Municipalities, local organizations and authorities. Mostly, it is in constant contact with local communities; with people living in mountains and those willing to return. Through studies, fieldwork and workshops it pioneers in issues related to mountainous environment, social environment and cultural heritage. It has managed to create new paths of thinking and acting, in many aspects of local residents’ way of living. Many students have already been engaged in several employment providing valuable knowledge and services to mountain regions.
So far experience has revealed a variety of crucial issues for the development of mountain regions, in Greece. Leaving of young people, especially young women, for studies or employment to the urban centers appears to be the most important. Although willing to return to their home-places, most of them don’t, since mountains lack in employment opportunities and many services that can provide a promising future. This was the main idea that triggered the initiation of PEAK. Youth-drain is common in the mountains of Europe. It will lead to further depopulation in near future, unless certain policies are applied. Through PEAK, MIRC intends to help young people who would like to try themselves in entrepreneurship and are attracted by mountain living. It intends to keep young people in their home-places and inspire more to settle in mountains, enjoying the privileges that mountainous nature offers. It intends to give young people knowledge, skills, methods and abilities to overcome difficulties and become entrepreneurs. It is mostly aiming at the inspiration and motivation of young people to find their own way through entrepreneurship in order to create a decent and prosperous life in a mountain region.