Igniting cleantech innovation: how London can pave the way for Spain’s flourishing startup ecosystem

- May 24, 2023

Early this year, European Commissioner Thierry Breton called for cleantech in the region to reach net zero by 2050, considering the Green Deal Industrial Plan in place. 

In Spain, the stakes are high, but a revolution is underway. A vibrant startup ecosystem, brimming with an entrepreneurial spirit, is driving the nation’s cleantech sector to new heights. 

From the bustling streets of Barcelona to the innovative hubs of Madrid and Valencia’s stellar combo of 300-plus annual days of sun, Spanish entrepreneurs are harnessing the power of technology to tackle the pressing challenges of our time. 

As the prestigious Desafia London program beckons, Spain’s cleantech solutions are poised to take the international stage, propelled by the visionary partnership of Cambridge Cleantech, CISL, and Oxfordshire Greentech.

Cambridge Cleantech, a frontrunner in European climate tech innovation, has secured a groundbreaking win as the host of Desafia London, an immersive program designed to empower Spain’s most innovative cleantech startups.

This remarkable initiative not only promises to fuel the growth and international expansion of Spanish tech companies but also shines a spotlight on the burgeoning cleantech environment in Spain and its profound impact on the country’s startup ecosystem.

Touring the innovation world

Desafia London, an integral part of the Desafia initiative sponsored by ICEX and, acts as a catalyst for Spanish tech startups, accelerating their growth and facilitating overseas expansion. 

The program has already made its mark in San Francisco, Berlin, and Tel Aviv, propelling participating startups to secure over $230 million in funding and create thousands of jobs.

With the inaugural UK immersion program set to take place over two transformative weeks in September, Desafia London offers a unique opportunity for Spanish startups to gain invaluable insights and exposure within the vibrant innovation centers of Cambridge and Oxford. 

These iconic technology clusters embody the essence of the UK’s dynamic tech landscape, fostering collaboration, breakthrough innovations, and unrivaled investment opportunities.

Cambridge Cleantech, renowned for its expertise in the clean technology sector, will lead the program alongside the University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL) and Oxfordshire Greentech.

This powerful alliance between industry leaders ensures participating Spanish startups gain access to an exceptional network of investors, industry experts, and resources, propelling them to new heights of success.

The roadshow begins

The Desafia UK roadshow, commencing this week, will make stops at innovation centers across Spain, providing a platform for entrepreneurs to engage with the program and tap into the wealth of knowledge and support available. 

Sam Goodall, CEO of Cambridge Cleantech, told Novobrief, “The Bay Area only matches the Golden Triangle supercluster of Cambridge, Oxford, and London in the US in terms of scale as a global innovation and investment ecosystem. We’re beyond excited to have won the bid to host the first-ever Desafia London.”

Bilbao, Madrid, Valencia, and Barcelona will all host Desafia events, creating a vibrant environment for startups to learn, connect, and showcase their innovative cleantech solutions.

Spain’s startup ecosystem, particularly within the CleanTech sector, stands to benefit significantly from Desafia London. 

With over 750 cleantech startups thriving in the country, Spain boasts a robust and rapidly expanding ecosystem of sustainable technology companies. 

Desafia London serves as a bridge between the Spanish and UK tech ecosystems, fostering knowledge transfer and collaboration that can lead to groundbreaking advancements in tackling climate change.

Hannah Scott, CEO of Oxfordshire Greentech, explained: “Desafia London provides the perfect backdrop for knowledge transfer between the thriving technology clusters of the UK and Spain.  This will help facilitate the acceleration and faster adoption of technical innovation and cleantech solutions to help tackle climate change. We look forward to welcoming the Spanish cohort to our Oxfordshire Greentech ecosystem.”

As Desafia London takes center stage, it marks a pivotal moment for Spain’s startup ecosystem, placing it firmly on the global CleanTech map.

With Cambridge Cleantech’s leadership and the collaborative efforts of CISL and Oxfordshire Greentech, this immersive program promises to unlock the true potential of Spanish cleantech startups, propelling them to scale, secure investments, and expand to international markets.

The Desafia London initiative serves as a beacon of hope, driving clean and sustainable innovations that will shape a brighter future for our planet. 

By uniting the UK and Spain’s brightest minds, Desafia London ignites a powerful alliance that will drive positive change, foster economic growth, and pave the way for a cleaner, greener world.