Interviews Startups

Nacho Mas: “The Valencian Community will be among the top 10 tech hubs worldwide”

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Written by Stefano De Marzo

What are the present and future of the Valencian innovation ecosystem? For a while, the region has given birth to plenty of exciting startups like Flywire (the first Valencian unicorn), Fever (that became a unicorn in January 2022), Jeff, and ClimateTrade, among many others. 

Valencia is considered without discussion the third ecosystem after Barcelona and Madrid. Part of this success has to be attributed to Startup Valencia, a private non-profit organization that, since 2017, represents startups in the Valencian Community and is a benchmark in the ecosystem of innovative and technological companies. 

The entity continues to consolidate itself as one of the most important clusters in the country, already has 300 associates from the digital and technology sector based in the Valencian Community, and has the collaboration of Jeff, GoHub (Global Omnium), BStartup (Banco Sabadell) and Google for Startups as Global Partners. For Valencia, the horizon looks promising in terms of AI, Big Data, IoT, and Cloud Computing, although blockchain is also becoming an important sector in the region. 

Novobrief spoke to Nacho Mas, CEO of Startup Valencia to go deep into the plans of the entity like the opening of the old maritime station for local startups, the challenges of attracting talent, the Valencia Digital Summit, and more.

What lessons can the rest of Spain’s innovation ecosystems learn about Valencia in terms of new technologies such as blockchain?

In terms of Blockchain, we have a specific hub to boost the Valencian innovative ecosystem that operates in this technology at an international level. This hub, which currently has 35 technology companies and aims to exceed 50 by July this year, will carry out a diagnosis of the ecosystem, represent the sector in the Valencian Community, visit other benchmark ecosystems, attract talent, investment as well as national and international technology companies to the region, and promote the organization of international events.

What will be the importance of the old maritime station in Valencia and what will it offer to local startups?

With the development of this project, entrepreneurs, investors and companies will have a space from which to connect and develop joint projects through open innovation. The objective is to create an environment that facilitates collaboration and the exchange of ideas and serves as a hub to develop them. 

After its opening, this space located in La Marina de Valencia will house more than 500 people with highly qualified positions. It is estimated that more than 5,000 innovation and technology professionals will participate annually in the training and networking activities and events, as well as in the open innovation programs that corporations and institutions develop with startups and scaleups in this technology hub. The achievement of this project is an endorsement of the work and trajectory of the more than 1,000 startups registered in the Valencian Community, according to data from the Startup Observatory prepared by Startup Valencia.

What are the challenges facing the Valencian ecosystem in terms of attracting talent?

The biggest challenge is to continue positioning the Valencian Community as an innovative hub of international reference. Valencia has everything to attract talent. It has great attractions as a city, an excellent climate and gastronomy, and the perfect balance between business opportunities and quality of life. The Valencian entrepreneurial ecosystem is demonstrating its potential and strength. As long as we continue to work in this direction and show these qualities to the world, talent will continue to come and stay here.

What has been the role of Startup Valencia in recent years to consolidate the ecosystem in the community? What plans and projects do you have on the near horizon?

The consolidation of our ecosystem is one of our main objectives as an association that articulates the sector. Among some of the actions we have launched for this, we can highlight the Startups Observatory of the Valencian Community for the study of the Valencian innovative and technological entrepreneurial ecosystem. We also organize almost a hundred tech events a year. Valencia Digital Summit, the international technology event of reference in the Valencian Community, which this year celebrates its fifth edition from October 24 to 26 in the City of Arts and Sciences, where more than 10,000 people will gather with a very high percentage of professionals from different countries.

What is the most valuable thing that Valencia offers for entrepreneurs from Spain and the world, unlike Madrid and Barcelona? What is the most exciting thing coming up in the startup ecosystem in Valencia? 

We have entrepreneurial muscle, investor interest, innovation, talent emanating from our universities and business centers. All of this is framed in Valencia, which has become the open innovation space of reference for corporations and startups. That is our differentiating factor. We are located in a friendly and well-connected land, which invites you to live well. We have all the advantages of a big city but with a pleasant environment. In addition, institutional collaboration has also contributed to the construction of a solid ecosystem. Currently, all the agents, local and regional administrations are rowing in the same direction. When the traditional Valencian business sector joins the cause, the innovative and technological ecosystem of the Valencian Community will undoubtedly be among the top 10 technology hubs worldwide.

About the author

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Stefano De Marzo

Stefano De Marzo is the editor of Novobrief.