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Innovating to build a better city

 

The presentation of the DonostiaINN Awards, debates on attracting talent to our city, the relationship between gastronomy and innovation, investment in 'start-ups' and marketing challenges have marked the fourth day of Donostia WeekINN.

 

This Thursday, Donostia WeekINN witnessed one of its most awaited moments with the presentation of the DonostiaINN Business Innovation Awards at the Hotel María Cristina. The aim of these awards is to recognise the efforts of entrepreneurs who take risks, invest and work for the city. Eneko Goia, Mayor of San Sebastian, highlighted the ability to collaborate between companies and institutions, “an attitude that can multiply our abilities by a thousand. Innovation and the ability to innovate can make us better in many fields, so you are an example for us”. According to the Deputy Mayor, Ernesto Gasco: “We should feel proud of the companies we have in San Sebastian and the people behind these companies. From the administrations, we offer a climate of trust and we work hard to maintain a high and good quality of life. Our objective is to generate and build an ecosystem together, in which talent, innovation and knowledge make us different and attractive so that people from other places want to come and share their knowledge, bids and products with us”.

 

The second edition of the DonostiaINN Awards granted by the Department for Economic Promotion through Fomento de San Sebastián, went to IKOR, in the consolidated companies category, and to Countercraft, in the start-up category. IKOR, founded in 1981 by Miguel Angel Sierra and Jesús Iñurrita, offers comprehensive electric circuit design and manufacturing services, with complete supply chain solutions for the world’s leading industrial and technological companies. With its headquarters in San Sebastian, from where it focuses its activity, it has plants in Spain, Mexico and China from where it serves the five continents and covers all of the key emerging or mature markets. Furthermore, it is a company that generates an important volume of jobs in the city, with 220 employees in San Sebastian, of which 30 are R&D engineers, and a total of 750 workers at its three plants. The Award was accepted by the Corporate R&D Director, Aitor Larruskain.

 

Countercraft is a cyber-security company founded in San Sebastian in 2015, which offers a security platform in the digital field based on artificial counter- intelligence. The firm has designed a cyber-security product that deploys machines, servers, identities and documents that appear to be real to attackers, but are really traps for them. They create false identities, websites that seem to be real, but are not, and deploy fictitious information in order to attract the attention of attackers who believe that they are stealing valuable information from companies, when in reality, they are being spied on. Its co- founder, David Barroso, accepted the Award.

 

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Attracting and Retaining Talent

The presentation of the awards was held within the framework of the 'Topagunea Business Strategy' which was held for the first time ever in San Sebastian, in a hall that ended up being too small to accommodate all of the attendees. The prelude to the presentation of the DonostiaINN Awards was marked by a talk-debate on the need to generate and attract talent to the city. Euken Sese, Director of Fomento de San Sebastián, pointed out that San Sebastian has a powerful innovation ecosystem, whereby 50 percent of its young people are graduates and it has different subsidies and grants so that these young people can obtain complementary training abroad: “The administrations must help people to go abroad for training, but then they must return to share their knowledge”, he highlighted.

 

In the opinion of Ignacio Muñoz, CEO of Angulas Aginaga: “Companies, institutions and universities should know which type of professional profiles will be needed in the future in order to bring them here. They need to be sought wherever they may be. However, it is also necessary to help such people come to San Sebastian, offering resources related to the education of their children or affordable housing”. In this respect, Malou Henriksen-Lacey, Danish researcher at CIC Biomagune who has spent seven years in the city, explained: “I did not come to San Sebastian for the talent or the salary. The economic conditions are better in other places. However, San Sebastian is a good place to live, with good infrastructures and the life quality is very high”. David Barroso, co-founder of Countercraft, reported that he had experienced difficulties finding local workers with talent. “We have repatriated Basque people living in England and brought people from other places in Europe and Spain to work with us. It was not difficult to convince them because the city project is highly attractive”.

 

The conference was also attended by Emilio J. Castilla, Professor of Management at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), who explained his concept of 'People Analytics', as a tool to attract talent and carry out the appropriate staff selection processes. “It is possible to be innovative in the field of Human Resources using analytical tools that help professionals of these departments. It is necessary to carry out evaluative processes focusing on aspects such as the needs of workers, skills building or fostering teamwork. We have to understand what motivates 'millennials' and reinvent the work”, highlighted Castilla.

 

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Technological Barnetegi

The technological barnetegis have become an effective tool for the dissemination of knowledge. It has been proven that condensing training hours into a few days increases retention capacity and the motivation of participants. In this context, and with the collaboration of Sinnple Social Innovation Consultants, Donostia WeekINN offers all those interested in social entrepreneurship a free barnetegi, focusing on this theme.

 

From 9am until 6pm on Thursday and from 9am to 2pm on Friday, those registered are learning to jointly identify and develop new business models with social impact and they are developing solutions related to one of the challenges proposed by the UNO for sustainable development: responsible production and consumption with the aim of achieving more efficient management of natural resources, fostering healthy and sustainable lifestyles among the population and promoting sustainable tourism that generates economic growth.

 

This barnetegi also addresses relevant questions, such as the characteristics of the social company, its business model or market demands. Participants have mentors who will analyse the different proposals and provide them with the necessary tools to drive the different projects.

 

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Marketing

Marketing also played a major role in Thursday’s conference. The Kursaal Convention Centre hosted the sixth edition of Euskarabildua, a conference on advanced technologies aimed at entrepreneurs in the field of Marketing and Communication. In this context, the role of artificial intelligence, Internet of Things, virtual reality and 'big data' for the future of marketing in Basque was analysed. If applied properly, these technologies can help “find out about the target public, offer personalised messages and improve the user experience”, as pointed out in the videoconference with Christina Stathopoulos, expert engineer in project development and 'big data' at Nielsen. In her opinion, the challenges of the future of marketing strategies include “disruption in the labour market with new job profiles focusing on data analytics or 'big data', competition to large companies, such as Google, Facebook or Amazon; the right to be forgotten and to preserve our personal data and, finally, the rebellion of machines, understood to be the boom in artificial intelligence applied to different sectors”.

 

This event has also served to find out firsthand about some of the most innovative projects in Basque companies, institutions and technology centres, such as Vicomtech-IK4, Tecnalia, Elhuyar or the UPV/EHU. Euskarabildua is organised by Argia, Iametza Interaktiboa and Ametzagaiña Taldea and includes the collaboration of the SPRI Group through Miramon Enpresa Digitala.

 

Without losing sight of marketing, at Puntu Denda, a digital marketing workshop was held in which we discovered firsthand the experience of Deportes Apalategui. In collaboration with Hispavista, they reviewed how they took the step from store sales to 'online' sales and the large business volume that the latter model represents nowadays. However, not everything depends on setting up a 'market place' on Internet. It is also necessary to carry out conversion and loyalty processes with customers captured through digital platforms, always supported by a clear strategy.

 

Gastronomy

Those responsible for the gastronomic ecosystem in San Sebastian gathered at Ni Neu in a conference on innovation in the gastronomic offer organised by the Gipuzkoa Hotel and Catering Association. Manu Narváez, Director of the San Sebastian Tourism and Convention Bureau, explained that over the past five years the origins of tourists to the city have been inverted. In 2011, 35% were foreigners and the rest came from Spain, whereas last year, the percentage of international visitors rose to 55%. One of the causes behind this increase is the culinary attraction and the international media repercussion of the culinary offer in San Sebastian. “We must continue innovating and creating in everything related to gastronomy. We cannot fall into the trap of trivialising the offer, filling our bars with numerous pintxos without caring about their quality. Nowadays, everybody knows who does things well and who doesn’t through the social networks. We must maintain the authenticity of our gastronomy in order to remain committed to society. It is necessary to complete a portfolio of gastronomic products and extend offers related to gastronomy, such as pintxo workshops, bar routes, events, etc”, warned Narváez. “In San Sebastian, there are many things besides gastronomy, but it is necessary to seek excellence in something and later raise awareness of other things. If we excel in gastronomy, it will help us to spread the city’s other strengths”, he highlighted.

 

During this innovation in the gastronomic offer conference, we could also listen to other people. Anastasia Kadlubitska, Alina Eliseeva and Luis Arrufat from Takatak Bar, told us what motivates a foreign citizen, in this case a Russian, to choose San Sebastian to develop a culinary proposal, along with the reasons why they have opted for fusion cuisine. Borja García Argüelles, Head of R&D at Akelarre and manager of the Matalauva bar, explained how the combination of creativity and technology resolves many problems. In his specific case, thanks to the use of technology, he has managed to cook without emitting any smoke. Jorge Bretón and Lolo Román from the Cooking Clubster, offered their professional vision on the direction of the culinary art in Spain and in the world, highlighting the new consumption trends that they perceive and which basic aspects need to be resolved by a hotel and catering entrepreneur to structure a winning culinary offer, in a city in which there is already a high culinary level and public understanding.

 

After lunch, Talent House hosted a new edition of the Investment Forum – the Basque Keiretsu Forum in which several innovative entrepreneurs from San Sebastian presented their business projects to potential investors. We discovered a vast amount of talent, great ideas, qualified professionals and a considerable number of private investors ('business angels') and companies interested in new projects that add value to their business niche. Keiretsu Forum is defined as an international association of private investors, business leaders and entrepreneurs which is organised as a capital forum to finance small and medium-sized growth companies. In addition to funding, members of the Keiretsu Forum also offer entrepreneurs high level contacts and training. This forum has over 2,000 members worldwide and has invested more than 200 million dollars in over 250 companies all over the planet.

 

New Technologies on the Street

Students from schools in the city and many curious passers-by visited the Boulevard Marquee throughout the day. Following the workshops scheduled for young people held over the past three days, this Thursday it was time for the latest innovations related to new technologies. Various companies and technology centres from San Sebastian revealed how such hypnotic devices as 3D printers work. We were able to use simulators, virtual reality glasses, small programmable robots and find out a bit more about how artificial intelligence works.

 

In the evening, the Keler Hall opened its doors to Begihandi, an open and free of charge meeting in which three professionals from the world of design and creativity shared their ways of working and the references which inspire them with those present, amateurs or professionals. Irene Madariaga from Wegetit, Mikel Antero from Kunsthal and Maider Alzaga told us about the latest trends and ideas in areas such as design, digital strategy, animation, illustration or fashion design. This act was organised in collaboration with EIDE, the Basque Association of Designers.

 

At the same time in Dabadaba, residents and the local business sector of Egia enjoyed a journey through recent years in the development of the neighbourhood and found out about future plans for the area.

 

Tomorrow is the last day of Donostia WeekINN, but there is still a lot to see and hear. Don’t miss it.

 

 

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