Here’s 4 things Spain needs to do NOW if it wants to fix innovation

Yesterday, Whiteboard contributor Hermann Simon wrote that Spain accounts for a measly 380 patents granted in 2011 by the European Patent Office, out of a total of 62 000. Spain (and Greece and Portugal) clearly lags behind in Europe – Germany applied for 13 500 patents in 2011.

Today, I came across this article byAlberto Diaz Gonzalez, a Spanish tech and M&A lawyer in CincoDías. In it, he explains what is going wrong with Spanish innovation, and what is needed to fix Spanish innovation.

I translated parts of it to English:

1. Spain needs a strategy for innovation

“For ages, Spain has been trying to create more innovative and technological companies. But if you analyse the reports on tech based companies issued by national and international institutions, it’s clear that our country lacks a clear and effective strategy to create innovative tech companies.”

2. Spain needs to kickstart a VC ecosystem

“To remedy this, it’s clear that we will need a funding ecosystem with both venture capital funds and private equity funds. While we can’t differentiate between the two in Spain, it’s important to understand that the entire Spanish investment capital ecosystem is made up of private equity players, but we lack VC funds.”

“Venture capital is an activity that has risk taking as a defining element, private equity doesn’t. Innovation inherently brings with it a higher business risk. This means that we need venture capital, because we need a specialised tool to take those risks. It’s hardly possible to develop entrepreneurship in traditional businesses.”

“The countries with the highest number of tech companies – the US, Korea, the UK and Israel, all have an industry of VC funds and specialized professionals.”

3. Spain needs more entrepreneurs who have business experience

“An important aspect of VC funds is that they bring – apart from money – professional business management into the ventures they invest in. In Spain, hardly any tech entrepreneurs have experience in management positions – a fact that is not given enough weight by the Spanish public funding agencies. It’s common to see a lot of brainpower in projects that are publicly funded with hundreds of thousands of euros, but that teeter on the brink of collapse for years because they are not managed professionally from a business standpoint. Public funding agencies should demand more professionalism on the business end.”

4. Spain needs to untap the huge reserves of human capital

“In Spain we have the resources, especially in human capital, to create businesses with global relevance – especially in biotech and biomedicine. If we can manage VC money to flow into these projects, Spain could enter the small group of nations who are designing the world of tomorrow through knowledge.”

Photo: Nasa, Flickr

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About the author

Raf Weverbergh

Editor of whiteboard. Raf Weverbergh was a magazine journalist whose work appeared in magazines like Rolling Stone, Playboy, Mail on Sunday, Publico and South China Morning Post. He is the co-founder of FINN, a corporate communications agency where he advises startups and multinationals on their PR and Mustr, the easiest media database for PR professionals. You can contact him on Twitter, Linkedin or Skype (rafweverbergh).

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