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Young People Design the Future of San Sebastian


Creativity, critical thought, talent, teamwork, human capital, innovation or 'Open Data' have marked the third day of Donostia WeekINN


On very few occasions can we find San Sebastian City Council’s Plenary Hall decorated in balloons and colourful card with modern music in the background and presided by 27 schoolchildren between the ages of 11 and 17. This was the atmosphere for the final of the Donostia INNovation League which was held on Wednesday within the framework of Donostia WeekINN. A few months ago, Fomento de San Sebastián presented students at educational centres in the capital with the challenge of coming up with innovative projects to generate activity on the banks of the River Urumea. Apart from turning these initiatives into specific projects, the objective was to foster values such as teamwork, creative spirit or entrepreneurship among young people. Students from Axular, St. Patrick's, Jesuitak, Santo Tomas Lizeoa and Luberri reached the final phase


The 'coacher', Iker Fernández, better known as “Adventure Maker”, was the master of ceremonies in the presentation of the projects submitted by the finalists. During the event, he highlighted that international studies have marked which personal skills are going to be valued in business and social areas in the very near future: “One of the most important is the multilingual brain or the ability to speak several languages. Process design as a strategy to have a vision of the future and anticipating needs before they arise are also important. Virtual collaboration by means of contact with other people through, for example, the social networks is another important area, as is imagination to project ideas. Critical thought is needed to compare information and computational thought offers the ability to use technology in problem solving”, according to Iker Fernández.


The students have come up with projects, such as a platform on the Urumea to organise concerts, performances and fireworks, without forgetting a culinary area (Axular Lizeoa); a festival that highlights the function of the river  along with other sporting and leisure activities (Jesuitak Ikastetxea); a socialisation area which replicates the nautical style and encourages participation in sports (Luberri) and a Christmas area (Santo Tomás Lizeoa). 


However, the winners were the St. Patrick's students with their proposal of chartering a four-storey boat on the River Urumea. The first floor will be home to offices and a storage area. There will be a multi-purpose area on the second floor, which can be turned into a disco at night. The third floor will be a space that is open to all. The fourth floor will be an open-air terrace to hold different types of events.  The prize for this team will be a trip to Bordeaux to find out about other similar innovative initiatives which will serve as inspiration for the development of their project. Who knows whether this idea will become a reality in the future. 


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The Mayor of San Sebastian, Eneko Goia, highlighted the importance of the River Urumea for the city and the need for future opportunities for the area, such as those presented by the finalists. San Sebastian City Council’s Deputy Mayor and Councillor of the Department for Economic Development, Employment, Tourism Commerce and Hotel and Catering; Ernesto Gasco, pointed out: “For the City Council, it is important that innovation, science, talent and knowledge are a tangible reality and reach the very young. Today,   not only are good marks important, but also people who consider the stories and challenges of the future that they want to build. If we are able to promote these efforts towards knowledge and creativity, we will turn San Sebastian into a cutting edge city”.


Innovative Ecosystems

The programme for the Wednesday of Donostia WeekINN kicked off with the second conference devoted to Urban Manufacturing, an interregional cooperation programme promoted by the European Union. Each session of this international meeting of cities, which are benchmarks in innovation, such as San Sebastian, Birmingham (United Kingdom), Bratislava (Slovakia), Zagreb (Croatia), Rome (Italy), Lisbon (Portugal) and Vilnius (Lithuania), offers experiences and lessons to promote talent. Over the past few days, representatives of these cities have got to know San Sebastian better and have proposed initiatives to foster different aspects related to the training of young people and the development of local talent. The objective of this meeting is for our city to be recognised abroad not only as a tourist destination, but also as a benchmark in innovation. To do so, the work of educational centres, technology centres and around 5,000 technological companies and 'start-ups' that are based in San Sebastian has been highlighted.


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Within the framework of this Urban Manufacturing, Borja Santos, Professor of International Relations at the Business Institute (IE) and consultant at the World Bank, described the keys to strengthen the local innovation ecosystem by presenting some of the existing models and representative cases.  According to this expert, innovative cities must fulfil five requirements: “Innovative ecosystems must have human capital, professionals, talent and the social commitment of the people. They must also have Infrastructures, which are understood to be life quality, roads and airports, means of transport, or a good cultural offer. Another important element is to generate a driving stimulus through governmental policies that establish good regulations for innovation and foster the use of 'Open Data', which improves the relationship between citizens and the administrations. The fourth variable is the economic tools, such as the quality of the industry and its complexity, its wealth or R&D&I support for its commercial use. The final requirement is related to the values of connection and interrelation between people who foster the previous four requirements. Networking or meetings such as this Urban Manufacturing foster this interrelation. Accelerators of business projects, incubators or different tools and financing agents must also be included in this section.


Continuing in this internationalisation context, Talent House brought together highly qualified foreign professionals working in the San Sebastian innovative ecosystem. The objective of this meeting was to discover the keys to foster the commitment of international talent to that of the local innovation ecosystem. The programme kicked off with the official presentation of 'San Sebastian Connecting Talent': a community of highly qualified professionals in San Sebastian. Later, a workshop was held to identify ideas and opportunities to connect talent to our city. The person responsible for providing us with the main ideas was the independent researcher, Tim Smithers, who has been based in San Sebastian for years. The aim of this initiative, to which over one hundred people were invited, is to find out in greater depth what people from other countries can offer our environment, how to take advantage of this knowledge and create the possibility of   building bridges between the capital of Gipuzkoa and their own cities or countries. The purpose of all of this is to create synergies, learn and show off the knowledge and enormous talent at is generated in San Sebastian in different sectors. Internationalisation is one of the three pillars on which this Donostia WeekINN is sustained.


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Open Data

For some years, Open Data has become a tendency, particularly in the administrations, but not only there. The essence of 'Open Data' is to make information related to the functioning of an institution (for example revenue or expenses, regulations passed,...) or data compiled of public interest, such as pollution levels, rainfall, traffic incidents, weather forecasts, maps, orthophotos, etc. available to any user. This information can be freely consulted by any user or it can be reused to develop other services, such as applications for mobile devices. 


However, SMEs also generate relevant data for citizens. In this context, the Fomento de San Sebastián SMART Cluster organised a conference to analyse the business opportunities of 'Open Data'. Nagore de los Ríos, specialist in open data and communication, Senior Consultant at the World Bank and founder of OutreachTool.com, explained some key points to communicate with open data. The fact that a company has more and more information and data regarding its clients is enabling the development of analytical or 'big data' platforms that allows the public to be segmented and their needs to be known. In this way, the end-client only receives relevant proposals. According to Nagore de los Ríos, tools like Outreach Tool enable  “what is going to be communicated, how, what with and when” to be specified.


Leire Bardaji, Head of Technological Innovation Projects at Eurohelp Consulting, offered some tips on 'Open Data' applied to the Lighthouse Replicate European project, a 'Smart Cities' initiative in which San Sebastian participates, co-funded by the Horizon 2020 programme and  involving over 40 partners. Replicate addresses the transition process towards a 'Smart City' in the fields of energy efficiency, sustainable mobility and ICTs/Infrastructures, accelerating the deployment of new technologies and contributing to its replication process. This initiative has turned the capital of Gipuzkoa into an international benchmark as far as smart cities are concerned.  


During this conference, we also discovered some interesting projects, such as iBILI, which was explained by Alberto Rezola, Senior Researcher at Quarizmi Adtech.  It is a smart Tender search engine, which represents an example of the valorisation of open data. Unai Martinez, CEO of Skootik Mobile Technologies, spoke about the use of 'Machine Learning' for the preparation of open data predictions. Carles Ortola, CEO of Icaria Networks, presented cases of ‘Open Data' applications for the private sector.


New Technologies in Commerce

The Donostia WeekINN activities reached Zuatzu with a session aimed at entrepreneurs with technology-based projects. From the company, Ikor, Iñaki Gil and its Corporate R&D Director, Aitor Larruskain, explained which tools are required to effectively develop a electronic-based project, whether it be   'software', 'hardware' or 'firmware'. They were 'tips' that do not focus on the business model, but on the development and execution of the specific product. “It is necessary to work hard and projects require time and money. A successful product is not made overnight. It takes at least three months to do things well”, was the main message that Larruskain wished to convey to the entrepreneurs.


Puntu Denda hosted a training session on technological tendencies for commerce by Serikat, within the framework of the Fomento de San Sebastián PUC INNOVATION (Pop Up Commerce) programme. Under the title of 'Keys for an 'online' store, some advice was given for the setting up of such stores on Internet that enables our products to reach users all over the world. Later, those present were able to discover the possibilities offered by a platform, such as WhatsApp in order to contact clients and offer new sales services. Some practical and personalised workshops were offered, coordinated by San Sebastián Shops Donostia, which will be followed up by practical examples in November and December. On the occasion of Donostia WeekINN, Puntu Denda has been redecorated, so we encourage you to stop off in Plaza Gipuzkoa to see it.


Furthermore, from today until Friday, Miramón hosts the Spanish Association of Machine Tool Manufacturers Conference (AFM).


We have reached the halfway point of Donostia WeekINN, but there are still many activities for all those interested in innovation, entrepreneurship, talent and new technologies. We invite you to download the official application in order to find out about the full programme.





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