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A new image for the city based on innovation

 

The second day of Donostia WeekINN focused on international cooperation, the development of innovation, and the use of new technologies to promote different sectors.

 

On Tuesday, the Donostia WeekINN innovation festival launched a new forum for debate about technologies known as TechTalks. The team at Fomento de San Sebastián acknowledged that the aim is for this forum to be an ongoing initiative. The event was held at Gu, a venue that overlooks La Concha beach, and had been sold out for days. Four experts spoke about how new technologies are driving change in their respective sectors, which range from sport to retail and even banking. Juan Iraola, head of the Digital/Technology Department at Real Sociedad, reflected on the use of data analytics and big data in relation to sports performance: “Thanks to predictive analysis with algorithms and machine learning, together with medical data, we can prevent injury, which will increase player productivity”. Furthermore, in his opinion, technology provides new ways of interacting with fans: “It might not be possible for us to attract new members, but we can forge a closer bond between the club and fans through contents and unique experiences thanks to new technologies. If the result is positive and we manage to create this bond, we might be able to push up revenues in a way that is less closely related to sports performance than currently”.

 

martes 24 1Loinaz Errezola, director of Marketing and Strategy at Kendu, described new concepts related with the world of retail such as Smart Boutiques. These are the physical stores of the future, in which, thanks to technologies such as virtual reality, augmented reality, and big data, our shopping experience will be totally different. “The future is grounded in concepts such as product control in logistics centres, thanks to RFID labelling; getting more in-depth customer knowledge, through big data tools, in order to customise their shopping experience; generating engagement or emotional bonds with customers, and hyper-customisation, so that companies are able to offer you the products you truly want and that are customised to you”, she emphasised.

 

Montse Guardia Guell, director of Digital Challenge at Banco Sabadell, explained how a traditional sector such as the banking industry is becoming increasingly tied in with new technologies, and particularly to blockchain technology. “Artificial intelligence and blockchain are new emerging technologies with a certain level of maturity and a great deal of potential. The challenge now is to find interesting cases in which they can be used, and in this regard we are making a good deal of progress. Another important tool we will be working with in the future is artificial intelligence, but not understood as autonomous intelligence, but rather under the supervision of human beings”, she stated.

 

Finally, Alberto Gómez Toribio, a specialist in blockchain tetchnology and the co-founder and CTO of Nevtrace, sparked the interest of the audience members in this technology, which came about as part of the development of the Bitcoin crypto-currency in 2008, but which in recent years has been offering secure transaction solutions and Smart Contract tools to financial entities, governments, businesses, and all kinds of sectors. Even so, there is still a great lack of knowledge about blockchain and even reluctance and reticence towards it. “Having technologies such as blockchain does not mean they are going to change the world. Ideas can be very good, but you go crashing into reality if people don’t want to resolve that problem in the way that technology is proposing. The main challenge of blockchain is to meet the expectations set by companies and create case stories to showcase its usage”, argued Gómez Toribio.

 

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Opportunities for San Sebastian

On Tuesday, Donostia WeekINN also looked at internationalisation with an event held at Talent House about Urban Manufacturing, an inter-regional cooperation programme promoted by the European Union. Throughout the day, international experts shared their experience in the development of a common approach to collaborate with different institutions with a view to promoting the development of cities.

 

Close to thirty representatives from cities such as Birmingham (UK), Bratislava (Slovakia), Zagreb (Croatia), Rome (Italy), Lisbon (Portugal) and Vilnius (Lithuania) got together in multidisciplinary teams to identify challenges and opportunities that could be applied in San Sebastian, whilst also visiting different points around the city to find out what it has to offer. Tom Cahill-Jones, Policy Expert at Birmingham City University, explained the goal of this European programme: “To ensure that the builders of collaborative spaces prosper by identifying best practices, testing out policy approaches, and supporting our cities in the creation of receptive conditions”.

 

Iñigo Olaizola, head of Innovation and Competitiveness at Fomento de San Sebastián, pointed out: “We are more than just a picture postcard city. Here in San Sebastian, we are looking to promote another brand for the city based on innovation. In this respect, the city’s evolution since the year 2000 has been incredible. Europe has recognised us as a strong innovator, highlighting projects related with Smart Cities such as Replicate and SmartKalea. We have four universities and 5,000 technology firms. Our goal is to support emerging sectors and attract talent to our city”.

 

The team at Fomento de San Sebastián saw this Urban Manufacturing event as a chance to detect good practices and experiences related with collaboration with students and universities. The strategy revolves around “generating formal relations with universities, technology firms and stakeholders in order to foster knowledge exchange and create a united community to present projects to Europe and secure opportunities for the city”, explained Olaizola.

 

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Tips to secure funding

Running almost parallel, at another space within Talent House, the GuztiONA Agri-Food cluster from Fomento de San Sebastián held a session to examine the challenges facing local produce today. Although the general public is increasingly aware of the need to take care of the environment and their own health, in a context of innovation and globalisation, local produce is facing major opportunities but also major threats, as highlighted by Jesús Contreras, Professor in Social Anthropology at Barcelona University and a researcher with the Food Observatory. This session also afforded participants the opportunity to hear from Jorge Hernández, representative of the 'Slow Food’ movement, who explained that this trend is closely linked to local produce. Cristina Lecumberri, head of Promotion and Marketing at Intia, the Navarre Institute of Transfer and Innovation in the Agri-Food Sector, Raúl Fernández Acha, manager of the Hotel Amara Plaza, Nagore Irazuegi, owner of the restaurant Arima Basque Gastronomy, and the fruit grower, Antton Olaizola from Lurrarte, S.L., also set out their experiences with local produce, highlighting the added value their businesses have gained thanks to it.

 

Entrepreneurs from San Sebastian had a very important date in Elkargi. If you’re one of those people who have a business idea in mind but you need finance to set it in motion, until just a few years ago, the alternatives were to try and secure a loan from a bank or turn to the famous ‘3 Fs’ (family, friends and fools). But now there are other forms of finance such as capitals markets and private investors (the famous ‘business angels’). Mikel Ozkariz, director of Elkargi Consulting, explained in detail about each of these alternative pathways to secure money for an emerging business project.

 

It was lunchtime when the workshop about commerce in the city kicked off in Tabakalera, looking at quality in employment and people management, organised by the Gipuzkoa Trade Federation. For nearly two hours, participants presented their proposals for improvements and, above all, good practices that provided inspiration to many retail businesses regarding future implementation.

 

Monte Igeldo hosted a training session for skills linked to innovation, involving schools from the Donostia INNovation League. There was a great deal of concentration and frayed nerves, because the winners of this competition will be announced on Wednesday 25th. Students and teachers from the Axular, St. Patricks, Jesuitak, Santo Tomas Lizeoa and Luberri schools will present their proposals to a panel of judges including companies, experts in innovation and representatives of San Sebastian City Council.

 

The Tuesday of the Donostia WeekINN week-long innovation festival drew to a close in a fun and entertaining way, with a little music and show business at Dabadaba. Whereas on Monday, discussions revolved around film and big data, on this occasion, the participants examined technology and innovation applied to the creative world of music and show. Shanna Jade from STEM talked about how music is shared today via different online platforms, and which formulas can be used to monetise these types of tools. Matt Brinkworth from JAAK described how Blockchain also had a great deal to say in the music industry, and some of the participants are bound to have been inspired to launch a blockchain of this type. Lastly, Mike Sniper from Captured Tracks, gave a summary of how new technologies have impacted the world of music.

 

The Tuesday of the Donostia WeekINN week-long innovation festival drew to a close in a fun and entertaining way, with a little music and show business at Dabadaba. Whereas on Monday, discussions revolved around film and big data, on this occasion, the participants examined technology and innovation applied to the creative world of music and show. Shanna Jade from STEM talked about how music is shared today via different online platforms, and which formulas can be used to monetise these types of tools. Matt Brinkworth from JAAK described how Blockchain also had a great deal to say in the music industry, and some of the participants are bound to have been inspired to launch a blockchain of this type. Lastly, Mike Sniper from Captured Tracks, gave a summary of how new technologies have impacted the world of music.

 

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