Events - EIC Hub Visit to Barcelona: a city open to innovation and business
After having digitally attended Stockholm’s innovation scene, the European Innovation Council continued its digitally journey all the way down south, to witness Barcelona’s innovation landscape first-hand. On 3 and 4 November, EIC-innovators had the chance to meet with Barcelona’s largest corporates, investors and accelerators and learn all about its unique business climate.
The virtual visit to innovation hubs is a novel concept, brought to you by the EIC Business Acceleration Services. It combines the unique elements of our flagship-events (Corporate Days, Investors Days and Community Trainings), while adding a dash of digital sightseeing of some of the most exciting start-up hubs in Europe!
Barcelona is a city where business opportunities and capital investments are brought together, making business grow: the event gathered some of Barcelona’s largest innovation players like Caixabank, Telefonica, Iberdrola, Suez, Mediapro and Estrella Damm. All this with the help of ACCIÓ, the Barcelona-based agency for business competitiveness.
We gathered Carlos Solana, responsible for Open Innovation at Mediapro, Ana Maiques, EIC board member and herself an entrepreneur from Barcelona, as well as two EIC-beneficiaries, Francisco Guillén, CEO of Blocktac and Daphna Wiener, Chairperson of Criaterra to talk about Barcelona and the EIC Hub Visit.
Wired in our DNA
With talent and technology constantly driving and reinforcing one another, Barcelona has created an innovative environment for start-ups and entrepreneurs. “Barcelona is wired in a creative way. Thinking out of the box is in our genes. And as a sea-city, we have always been entrepreneurial”, commented Ana. According to Carlos, Barcelona combines that with many public and private institutions that are driving innovation, achieving a wonderful mix: “Barcelona is full of relevant and interesting players: institutions, universities, technology centres. And when that works well, it attracts more talent”. As to why these hub visits are important for the European ecosystem, Ana noted: “A lot of the challenges that start-ups are dealing with are global and without a proper network its difficult. You need connections in other countries to grow through money and investment, but also through network. And that is exactly what we are doing here”. Among similar lines Carlos mentioned the importance of “collaborating, not competing within Europe. We as Barcelona need to collaborate with Berlin, Paris, Stockholm etc. We are Europe, we are all in this together”.
A showcase of what Barcelona has to offer
Daphna and Francisco, the former coming from Israel, the latter from Barcelona, attended the Hub Visit. And both had their different reasons to do so. Daphna was representing the Israeli company Criaterra, a SME that develops regenerative construction materials and products to enable the transformation of the building industry into a circular economy. Daphna saw the Hub Visit as an excellent opportunity to tap into new markets: “We’ve targeted the European market because it’s a leader in introducing and adopting circular economy products. We realised that we have to join forces with other ecosystems, with large corporates. That’s why Barcelona is a very interesting destination for us.” Commenting on the question if she succeeded in this, Daphna replied: “I reached out to a few people, I have a few meetings set up. I’m hopeful that I can develop some further connections and relationships, perhaps even set up a consortium. All in all, I really appreciated the ‘visit’ to Barcelona’s innovation scene.”
Francisco, CEO from Blocktac, which developed a deep-tech, working blockchain-based product that acts as a (digital) seal, was playing a home game and had other reasons to attend the event: “This event was taking place in our backyard, so I felt that we had to join. There are so many initiatives in Barcelona, so sometimes you miss some of them. Attending the Hub Visit was a great opportunity to connect to relevant stakeholders that we might not be in touch with yet. In addition, it’s a great showcase of what Barcelona has to offer, so I felt it was important to be part of that.”
One more EIC Innovation Hub Visit is on its way. In December we will venture back north, visiting Berlin’s vibrant start-up scene. On 15-16 December 2020 EIC-innovators are welcome to discover the array of programmes, corporates, investors and accelerators there. Applications are still open until early December, don’t miss out!