In science, a collider accelerates two beams of protons in opposite directions to make them collide with each other producing very high energies.
This is the essence of The Collider translated to the venture building field: clashing science and entrepreneurship to create highly innovative technological startups. As brilliant as it may seem, this pursuit is born as an answer to a pain too long ignored in this country.
Spain holds the prideful distinction of being one of the international leaders in scientific excellence, a position rigorously backed by facts, both qualitative and quantitative. Our scientists and researchers write about 3,23% of scientific publications on the worldwide level, according to the CYD report from 2016. This places Spain in the 10th position in the global ranking, alongside world power nations like the United States, Germany or Japan. But most importantly, of all Spanish publications, at least 10% land the exclusive label of “excellence” by the international representative boards, setting the bar high for every new article written.
Clearly, Spain has the DNA and the appropriate context to excel in scientific research. Yet, the immediate question is: What do we do with this valuable rough matter? How do we turn this incredible knowledge and talent into tangible action?
Sadly, the answer is little or none. Let’s revise the statistics.
According to the Spanish Government, in the past 7 years, the number of patents per year counts on average 414, quite a derisory amount compared to the 85560 papers published only in 2016. But the key data comes here: 1 in every 637 University employers embarks on the shareholding of a startup. This denotes poor entrepreneurial ambition for a field so much immersed in research, innovation and technology. In fact, only 113 spin-offs are born on average each year from all the research centres and labs in Spanish territory.
So, why do we see such a low business return? From an investment of 11.3M€ (majorly from public funding), Spanish Universities see a total of 2.6M€ back. Where are we missing the shot?
Our guess points to a combination of poor entrepreneurial culture and extremely discouraging bureaucracy. Lead researchers have been traditionally comfortably based in their labs and there has never been a call or urge to join the outside world, aside from journals and scientific congresses. Moreover, when someone does move the lever, the tech-transfer process can become really tedious in between paperwork and incompatibilities and poor-competitive conditions.
We lack the mindset and we lack the conditions, key points that set apart the world’s scientific research leader, the United States.
The Collider is born to turn back the tide by building the beneficial environment for scientists and entrepreneurs to shake hands and become one. This will be an arduous task involving a change in culture and methodologies but the purpose and the outcome are more than worth a try. And we feel confident to become trendsetters as more and more tech-transfer enthusiasts join us down the line.