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Empowering España

Philippe Vanrie in conversation with Álvaro Simón de Blas, the new President of EBN, gives us an overview of the current incubation buzz in Spain.

Could you provide a quick profile of ANCES?

1. ANCES is the Spanish national association of Business and Innovation Centers (BICs). It was born in 1994 to ensure the representation of all EC-BICs in Spain and to promote good practices amongst them. Since its time of inception, more than thirty events have been organised that promote cooperation and benchmarking within this community, including the annual congress, that allows us to embrace and discuss topics of common interest to all members. Today we have a significant presence in the country and the association has a head count of 29 members that includes both full and associate members. We are geographically comprehensive and have widespread representation in almost all of the seventeen autonomous regions of Spain.

2. BICs, all over the EU, are certified innovation-based incubators. Can you please provide us some insights on why do you feel quality monitoring of incubators is important and some practical examples how this has affected Spanish incubators?

We believe that quality control is a key issue for our network to measure the services delivered and the output results. Besides that it is also a tool that differentiates EC-BICs from other organizations that claim to deliver the same type of services that we do. For that purpose, the European BIC Network (EBN) devotes a team of professionals, with the additional support of some board members, to monitor the offerings and has put in place a comprehensive system to evaluate and accredit organizations that wish to hold the European EC-BIC label. As far as the Spanish network is concerned, several evaluation missions have been carried out in the last few months - some for existing BICs and some for newcomers to ensure the compliance of the organizations to the EC-BIC quality mark criteria. In every single case, these audits have had the endorsement of the incubator owners and the stakeholders, and has served to underline and acknowledge the mission and performance of the evaluated organizations. In the case of BIC Lleida, a new organization GlobalCEEI, has emerged from an existing BIC and is now rapidly taking shape. It will help to direct and streamline all the actors in the field of innovation and entrepreneurship and it is vital that the EC-BIC label endorsed the new organizational goals.

3. Can you give us some insights on EIBT, another trademark managed by ANCES? How does it reflect on new start-ups or companies?

EIBT stands for Empresa Innovadora de Base Tecnológica or Technology Based Innovative Companies. It is a trademark of ANCES, managed on behalf of the Spanish Industry department, to ensure that a select committee identifies related BIC companies that use or create products or services based on new technologies. Until now, there have been two categories of EIBT; start-ups and consolidated companies. We are currently in the process of redefining the trademark in order to allow companies that have been granted the label certain advantages as compared to companies that do not make the effort to similarly invest in R&D. For that purpose, ANCES is in regular talks with ministry officials to try to put in place a regulatory system to support EIBTs in Spain, as is the case in France for instance, with the young innovative company model. In the ANCES database. we currently have more than 300 companies with this trademark.

4. What connections does ANCES have with other incubator networks, and how do these benefit innovative Spanish entrepreneurs?

ANCES is in close contact with all networks that have some stake within the innovation and entrepreneurship arena. We have a close relationship with the Portuguese association of BICs and participate in their respective annual congresses. We are in dialogue with RETIS in France, and we have opened a new forum of discussion with ANPROTEC (the Brazilian incubator network), just to mention a few international connections. At the Spanish level, we have close ties with the national association of science parks, APTE, where several incubation units are located. We work with business schools and also with the Spanish Chamber of Commerce that leads an incubator network in Spain called Incyde. We try to be the specialized network in the creation and consolidation of innovative enterprises, but of course, we are always open to collaborating with other networks, as long as our nurtured companies can benefit from the association in some way.

5. At the end it is all about supporting new start-ups and SMEs, why should an incubator be part of ANCES? How does this affect the end-users of a Spanish incubator?

To become a member of ANCES is a positive step for innovative businesses and consolidates the support network for them. It is important for the Spanish autonomous regions to continue to give support to their BICs, because is the only way to help develop the type of companies the Spanish economic tissue needs, especially now. It is also a wise way to get return on investments from the excellent R&D system linked to universities that have not been fully exploited in Spain. Research has shown that public ROI is also excellent when invested in organisations such as the BICs. ANCES is well-positioned to deliver value-added services to its members and that eventually benefits the end user - which are the innovative SMEs based in BICs.

6. What is the future of ANCES?

ANCES is not just the association of Spanish EC-BICs, but it is receiving widespread recognition by the central authorities to become a consultancy body to strategic governmental thinking, that will be assist in decisions made about the future of entrepreneurship and technology-based companies in Spain. We are steadily growing member strength over the last few years which in itself shows the interest in the ANCES project is rising which of course, validates both the need and existence of the organisation.

Álvaro Simón de Blas is a Doctor of Economics from the University of Malaga and has a Bachelor of Economics from the University of Deusto. He has been the General Manager of BIC Euronova, European Business and Innovation Centre of Malaga, since 1993 and has also held the position of President of ANCES (National Association of Spanish BICs) since April 2009 and President of EBN (European BICs Network) since September 2012. He previously worked in the Commercial Office of Spain in Japan, Lloyds Bank, Caja Postal Group and has been in involved with the auditing operations within his own company. He is Associate Professor at the University of Malaga, in the department of Economics and Business Organization (Faculty of Economics).

Philippe Vanrie has been the CEO of EBN, a pan-European Network bringing together over 200 accredited Business & Innovation Centres (BICs), Innovation-based Incubators, and Entrepreneurship Centres across Europe and beyond. He is an internationally recognized expert and experienced speaker in innovation and incubation and has developed strong relationships and several collaborative projects with the European Commission (EC), the European Space Agency (ESA), and a series of national and regional governmental agencies. He graduated from the Gembloux (Belgium) Agronomic Engineering University, and from the University of Louvain (Belgium) in Innovation Management, Development. Philippe has also served as an Advisory Board Member of the H-P Micro-Enterprise Acceleration Institute (MEA-I), the European Centre for Innovation in Geo-spatial and Location-Based Service, the European Region Research and Innovation Network (ERRIN), the International Network for SMEs (INSME), the Europa InterCluster Network, and in 2010 was on the Jury of the “Young European hopes of innovation”.
Published on 14-10-2012 13:41 by David Tee. 1666 page views

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