Nearly 500 people participated in the most important innovation and entrepreneurship event of the year for BBVA Open Innovation. BBVA Open Summit brought together startups (38 % of the attendees), experts, companies, investors and institutions to discuss cutting-edge issues such as investment trends, cryptocurrencies, emerging technologies and public support for entrepreneurship.
15 presentations with seven hours’ worth of content, 34 startups to discuss their goals and nearly 500 attendees from the entrepreneurial and financial ecosystem. These are the details. Behind them, the excitement of once again uniting everyone who makes BBVA Open Innovation a connected universe with a common goal: to achieve a positive impact on society.
The Green Patio in Madrid, formerly the home of a printing press, yesterday hosted the 5th edition of the BBVA Open Summit. A day for courageous entrepreneurs. “It’s very brave to have an idea and fight for it, that’s called entrepreneurship,” said Peio Belausteguigoitia. The bank’s intention is to act as a springboard for good ideas. As highlighted by Carlos Torres Vila, chairman and CEO of BBVA: “We are in an era of opportunity and our goal is to make those opportunities reach everyone. These are the values that we work with”.
From 09:00 on Thursday, 2 June in Madrid, laughter and words of affection could be heard as the attendees recognised each other beyond the typical screens of the usual teleworking.
Once inside, the attention turned to the stage, where Esmeralda Gómez, an expert writer on financial freedom, investor and founder of La Guía de la Vida, introduced herself as chairwoman and outlined the objective of the day. “We hope to inspire a new generation of leaders. We would like to invite you to imagine a new, plural, collective and sustainable era with us,” said Esmeralda. This year, in addition to the three traditional pillars – money, technology and life – a fourth value was added across the board: sustainability towards a green future.
Throughout the day, a total of 34 speakers, experts in financing, new technologies, sustainability and entrepreneurship, took the stage. The colour blue was part of the space not only in the auditorium: but also up the staircase with a row of bluish LEDs leading to the ‘Demo Zone’, a space where 34 companies exhibited their activity throughout the day, showcasing that disruptive feature that made them stand out.
On the same floor as the showcase area, there was another room with a swing in the middle of it. The game symbolised a transgressive message that defined the objective of the event: the human impulse to create the future. Between coffees, attendees could request meetings with those of professional interest to them through the event’s app. During the event, a multitude of connections were made among the attendees. The 1-2-1 meeting space encouraged networking, which is key to collaboration and the exchange of knowledge and opportunities.
Technological innovation was one of the pillars of the event. Attendees learned about the 10 emerging technologies that MIT Technology Review selected this year thanks to Elena Rodriguez, director of Opinno, an innovation consultant and editor of the magazine in Spanish. The expert emphasised that “technologies complement each other and are not substitutes for each other”.
When technology is combined with sustainability, ideas as innovative as the one developed by Fuelium are born. The founder of this sustainable battery company, Neus Sabaté, emphasised a basic premise when it comes to entrepreneurship in science: “If you want things to change, don’t always do the same thing.” Neus shared a round table with Francisco Benedito, co-founder and CEO of Climate Trade, and Roger Fernandez, founder and co-CEO of Solar Profit. The three businessmen wanted to finish up by insisting on the importance of public-private collaboration for the development of a sustainable business environment. “There is a clock ticking on the climate challenge and decarbonisation, and we have to act faster than that clock,” Roger concluded.
In this sense, the so-called ‘startup law‘, which is expected to be approved in the last quarter of the year, could define a more favourable environment for investment in Spain. Sofia Benjumea, director of Google for Startups EMEA, interviewed Francisco Polo, high commissioner for Spain as an Entrepreneurial Nation, a body of the Presidency of the Government of Spain, on this issue. Polo insisted on the “example to follow” that the Spanish innovative entrepreneurship sector represents: “This sector is the one that generates the most quality jobs and we want Spain to use it as a model”.
The road to an entrepreneurial nation is not a solitary journey. The high commissioner insisted on the synergies that must exist between ‘startups’ and established companies: “BBVA and its work with Open Innovation is a good example of an entity belonging to one of those tractor sectors, such as the financial sector; and what better than being able to work on an idea with such a large corporation”.
Along these lines, one month ago, in April 2022, BBVA decided to invest 15 million euros in a venture capital fund managed by K Fund, which aims to scale technology startup companies in Spain, Portugal and Latin America. The main ‘partner’ of the fund, Miguel Arias spoke with Roberto Albaladejo, head of Banking for Growth Companies at BBVA. Both scalability experts commented on the benefits that arise from the synergy between the bank and the ‘startups’. On the one hand, entrepreneurs gain access to financing that pushes them to scale up, on the other hand, corporations get to be closer to customers, which is very useful for them to learn about their needs. “From Open Innovation, BBVA carries out the interesting activity of uniting two worlds: the banking and the entrepreneurial; and from there, many good things can come from it”, concluded Arias.
Photo: Challenges and opportunities for investment in innovation.
To explore financing options for emerging companies, Ainhoa Campo Nieto, Global Head of Open Innovation at BBVA, brought together three different investor fund profiles in a round table discussion. Campo wanted to reflect on the ideal moment for development and asked the speakers about it. José Bayón López, CEO of ENISA, responded that “we are facing a digital and sustainable revolution that is opening up new markets; solving social problems is a new business opportunity”.
Photo: Carlos Torres Vila, BBVA’s chairman.
To finish off this day where innovation, entrepreneurship and sustainability have shone, Carlos Torres Vila, chairman and CEO of BBVA, stressed the importance of “taking advantage of technology to continue transforming society”. The raison d’être of the Open Summit is related to this purpose: to create connections to improve, redesign and boost the entrepreneurial world and its impact on the world. The following is the wish that Torres Vila made public: “Leave here having made connections, that’s the most important thing; that’s what makes the magic happen”.