Interviews

Interviews

Interview | Jerome Engel, UC Berkeley’s Emeritus Professor and The Collider ambassador

The Collider by Mobile World Capital Barcelona was pleased to announce this week a collaboration with Generalitat de Catalunya (Ministry of Business and Knowledge), to train the game-changers of tomorrow.

Flying from Silicon Valley, we were thrilled to welcome UC Berkeley’s Emeritus professor Jerome Engel to boost the scientific entrepreneurship in our territory. Over 60 representatives from Tech Transfer Offices and Research Centers have attended an exclusive seminar to foster the commercialization of our most-valued technological assets and knowledge. By training the trainers, this initiative aims to spread and prompt an entrepreneurial mindset among the whole scientific community.

The Lean Launchpad methodology is an evidence-driven entrepreneurship guide, crafted by Steve Blank and Jerry Engel at Berkeley’s Business School, which combines three key elements: the flipped classroom, the experiential learning and teamwork. This method is particularly effective in the tech transfer process, to validate the opportunity and the product market fit of a certain technology.

How did Engel end up directing the Haas School of Business at Berkeley? How did he associate with Blank and pulled together the Lean Launchpad? And why does tech transfer matter so much to him? We took the chance during Engel’s stay in Barcelona to sit down and hear his story from his own voice:


Tell us about yourself, your methodology…

For 20 years I worked at an important global consultancy called EY. As a young consultant I had the opportunity to help the youngest, smallest and for many, uninteresting companies to start and fundraise. We developed a specialty with increasing potential and the company made me responsible. By the end, I created an area that was as big or bigger than the large company’s service.

I gained a reputation in the business community and so they invited me to join the University of California at Berkeley. While there, I recruited Steve Blank to come and teach with me when he did not have teaching experience. He was simply a bright, friendly and successful businessman, and he transmitted to students what he really knew, which was in essence business development and product market fit.

Through time he refined his thinking and developed an experiential course for students that evolved to become the Lean LaunchPad Method which we taught together. Later on, the government asked us to deploy it nationally and I became trainer of trainers.

 

Which is the state of the art of tech transfer and were is it heading?

We are really at the beginning of seeing the benefits that will come from tech transfer. Tech transfer happens constantly; we see it every time there is a new discovery based on scientific research. But now we are going a step further, it is an institutional resource, the acceleration and training of this process.

We have been forcing it for the decades, while learning best practices to implement it. There are centers of excellence distributed around the world and we aim to learn from them. That’s where we find The Collider. The Collider is the next step in tech transfer, it rewards successful technologies by marrying them with great entrepreneurs and building big businesses.

 

What makes a city innovative?

There are many factors that contribute to creating an innovative ecosystem in cities. These components have a lot to do with the creativity and with the freedom of thought, design … and that’s what makes Barcelona a home to innovation. Gaudí, all the design history becomes a natural talent that citizens breathe.

But we must highlight that the city also has an importance in technology transfer, since the major components of an innovative society are its renowned universities with important research centers, entrepreneurs who think creatively, investors and large corporations willing to participate.

And that’s what The Collider is doing, putting all the components together: researchers, scientists, entrepreneurs, capital and large corporations. And that’s where the secret lies, in involving the big corporations. Why are large corporations the magic component? Because they have access to the market.

 


Recommended Literature by Jerome Engel:

Core texts include:

  • Business Model Generation by Osterwalder and Pigneur
  • The Startup Owner’s Manual by Blank and Dorf

 

Additional published resources include:

  • Lean LaunchPad Educators Guide by Blank, Engel and Hornthal
  • Value Proposition Design by Osterwalder, Pigneur, Bernarda and Smith
  • Talking to Humans by Constable and Rimalovski
  • Lean LaunchPad Educators Handbook by Blank, Engel and Hornthal
Interviews

Interview | Adriaan Landman, COO for The Collider project AllRead

Welcome back to The Collider blog, where we present the latest updates and real protagonists of the programme. This time, we’re bringing an interview to a current participant who joined one of the 10 projects selected last December ‘18. Adriaan Landman is a dutch entrepreneur and adventurer with high experience in people management, process management, and business development, specially in the media sector. At The Collider, he handles all the organizational strategy for project Allread, born in the Computer Vision Center in Barcelona. Alongside him teammates, they have been in charge of spotting and defining an ambitious yet realistic market opportunity for their technology in just about two months.

Meet the Colliders!


 

How did you hear about The Collider and what convinced you to join?

I heard about The Collider looking for executive positions in startups, on LinkedIN. The reputation of Mobile World Capital as well as the content of The Collider transferring technology into the market convinced me. There are a lot of things going on around startups nowadays, and the classical “market place” has lost its fanciness. The opportunity of building something around deep tech definitely brought me in.

 

You’ve been working for a little over a month in opportunity validation. Which are you finding to be the toughest part of it?

Since the beginning I have been enjoying the whole program, despite its sometimes demanding pace. Given I believed in the technology and the people, I was highly motivated. The toughest part for me is accepting the fragility of the whole project. Everything can fall apart, if you don’t validate the market opportunity, if you don’t manage to finalize the tech transfer deal, if suddenly people don’t come along  anymore… There is an important risk factor in the project… But to win, one must risk to lose.

 

Could you tell us a little bit about the technology you have in hands?

We are building our business around a textual information spotting technology. Our technology reads serial numbers, codes, utility meters, analog sensors, license plates, etc., in challenging operational conditions.

Our goal is to reduce throughput time of our clients, through automatic and accurate extraction of alphanumeric content in their operations (value chain, supply chain…). This way, we substitute repetitive manual tasks by immediate processing of the information.

 

How do you join efforts on your everyday between the scientific and the entrepreneurial side of your team?

We fixed a “minimum one presential meeting per week rule”, to be sure we stay aligned. Building on that, we are constantly interacting. First to understand well the features of the technology, then to build our business hypotheses and meet potential customers, finally to validate the business model. Obviously, their input is more “technological”, but from the beginning we considered ourselves a team of entrepreneurs, to avoid building a separation between “us” and “them”.

 

What grabs you the most about the startup way-of-life?

Work hard, play hard. Team is everything.

Interviews

Interview | Xavi Olba, open innovation consultant and The Collider mentor

Xavier Olba is a restless innovation consultant, startup mentor and thought leader in the Health sector. Olba holds a wide expertise in a number of levels (business development, finance, sales, etc.) due to over 10-year experience in the corporate side. With this knowledge, he now leads digital strategy and open innovation plans with a number of clients, including from early-stage startups to big corporations. At The Collider, he is highly valued as hands-on mentor, repeating for the second time.

Meet the Colliders!


 

Why did you decide to change the corporate world for the startup scene?

It is a personal question but I will answer it. I always thought that all of us come to this world to offer something special to improve the world. Working for a corporate I had the opportunity to discover that I loved to help organizations to innovate in their business model. I found out that I would like to help small (but smart) organizations (like start-ups) to access the market and bring their value proposition to their potential users. Working for a corporate, you work (sometimes) on internal marketing (administration issues and internal process) and 2 years ago I decided to invest all of my time to help companies innovate from the inside. Currently, I help companies innovate on the internal (employees) or external level (students, suppliers, customers, engineers, economists…). One of the greatest sources of innovation for corporations is collaborating with startups and I have the chance to connect the 2 worlds that I know best.

 

What traits and attitude characterises an entrepreneur, in your opinion?

An entrepreneur? They are what life expects from a human. Entrepreneur is someone who puts their time (the most valuable resource) into developping a solution to solve a challenge. They are the ones who are in love with a problem or opportunity; from then onwards, their life, their daily motivation and their reason-why is to solve it. They give their best talent to develop an idea and to transform it in a real innovative solution for people who need it. Entrepreneur is a person who does not think in the money. They are the ones who strive to offer a new solution to society. The best recognition that we can offer to an entrepreneur is to help them bring their ideas to the market.

 

Your expertise is in the Health sector; which would you say are the greatest challenges and advantages for early-stage Health startups?

The Health sector is one of the markets where you can innovate the most. But it is also possibly one of the most difficult to get into due to its specific characteristics. All potential innovative projects under development must not only solve unmet needs but also demonstrate their benefits following health institutions’ rules. Health startups normally are burnt due to the fact that their technology is focussed on offering solutions to health issues whereas the real objective is to find the real need or challenge to be solved by applying this technology. They must demonstrate in clinical trials with real patients or real healthcare professionals the practical benefits. While demonstrating their value proposition, they must also find a business model, spot who is going to pay for their solution and moreover, define how to access the market; it could be a B2B business, a B2C business model or a B2Administration solution. All these processes require a high amount of resources (partners, personal and money) and time. And these 2 assets are what entrepreneurs should learn how to manage.

 

On the last edition, you mentored The Collider’s RheoDx, now a successful year-old startup. Could you tell us a little about your journey together?

RheoDx is a real example of all activities and skills that a start-ups need to develop to become a successful solution for a market. I am lucky to enjoy the definition, implementation and follow-up of their road-map:

  • to assure the technology benefits.
  • to discover a market’s potential hole.
  • to demostrare (for professionals and patients) the benefit of the solution.
  • to discover a market opportunity
  • to develop MVP to define approval road-map.
  • to build a motivated and well-organized team. They are the real players for an start-up.
  • to define the best communication plan.
  • to manage personal expectatives of all start-ups members. We need to align personal and start-ups challenges.

 

On the current edition, you are repeating as a mentor. Which growth and future roadmap do you foresee for The Collider?

The Collider is a program that our market needs. The majority of corporations and entreprises that have access to the market, require innovation to improve their value proposition and improve their competitive advantage against their competitors. One of the key successful sources to bring onboard innovation into business is to seek new solutions within Universities. Universities have strong talent and an efficient methodology to kick off and develop disruptive projects. Authorities and corporates should support initiatives like the Collider to facilitate that innovative solutions reach the assessment of market stakeholders, to call-their-attention and to study potential ways of collaboration. The first two editions of The Collider show the results of the programme. Now, it is the duty of all of us involved to introduce the initiative to our partners (like Corporates) and convince them to collaborate. And ultimately, the goal is to seek further opportunities by bringing this program to other territories.

Interviews

Interview | Javier Avellaneda, The Collider Venture Building Strategist

Javier Avellaneda has been the latest addition to The Collider staff but he’s caught up incredibly fast. Having helped to bring 4 companies to the stock floors, he joined The Collider to lead our startups’ fundraising journey. With such a challenge in such an early stage in his hands, Javier is usually seen between partner’s boards and strategic meetings to define deals and secure a bright future for The Collider’s rising stars. In this post, he tells us about his professional experience and views over the venture building world.

Meet the Colliders!


 

Tell us a little about your experience before joining The Collider and what will be your role in the program.

Before joining The Collider I developed most of my career in the Venture Capital industry. I worked 4 years for Active Venture Partners and 6 years for Inveready Asset Management where I took a variety of positions, starting as Investment Analyst and later as Financial and Administration Manager. It was about 4 years ago when I decided to give some hands on approach to the entrepreneurial ecosystem and worked together with several companies in their financial strategy, fundraising strategy and in corporate trade sales’ processes.

My role in the program is to help our portfolio companies in their corporate strategy, financial strategy and fundraising with both public and private investments.

 

Which would you say is the major misconception from recent founders when it comes to fundraising?

Fundraising is a long process that requires lots of time and dedication from the founders. Most of the first-time founders I have met during my career were not aware of the number of presentations they would have to do before closing an investment round.

First-time founders should take consciousness that many Startups are created each year and compete for a limited investment capital which is in turn subject to different investment criteria. In the end fundraising become simple but a tedious work as the more presentations are done to investors the more probability of success will have the fundraising. Access to investors and knowing their investment criteria can reduce part of the work.

 

How do you measure success in an early-stage round of investment?

In my opinion, the most successful investment is the one that achieves all the milestones that the founders of the Startup promised to the investors that participate in the early-stage round.

The more tight to the plan agreed with the investor the more aligned are the interests of all parties and the more in line is the use of the funds with the promises to investors.

 

What do you find the most attractive about The Collider from an investor’s perspective?

From the investor’s perspective what I find the most attractive is the access to companies with breakthrough technology which is born inside the best scientific research groups worldwide, run by a selected and outstanding entrepreneurial talent, and already working with big corporations.

 

Finally, which are the major goals you set yourself for the current edition?

I have set myself two main goals to work which are related to both the supply and the demand. First, I would like to increase the visibility of all the companies in our portfolio and approach them to investors and public funders. Second, and really important, is to present our Tech Transfer program to the investment community and the advantages of Tech Transfer Startups as an investment asset in their portfolios. Although we are still in the first mile, our presentations are actually taking its fruits as some investors have already confirmed their interest in co-investing in the new edition’s Startups since its inception and follow on investing in future investment rounds.

Interviews

Interview | Lluís Gil, The Collider participant & Vice Dean for Research and Enterprises at School of Engineering (UPC)

The new edition of The Collider welcomes a selected pool of post-docs and principal investigators. From our experience, the latest collective is currently the hardest to persuade into entrepreneurship due to the deep cultural gap between academics and business. However, every once in a while, you come across a rara avis, a long-term chief researcher who is committed to handling his years-long experience into the market. This is the case of today’s interviewee, Lluís Gil, a professor at Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya (UPC) and Vice Dean for Research and Enterprises at the School of Engineering, who has not only brought one project to The Collider but two. There is a lot to learn from Lluis’ drive and enthusiasm. 

Enjoy the interview!


 

You hold this saying that “Researchers are the Entrepreneurs of Knowledge”. Could you tell us why?

An entrepreneur is a person that has a hypothesis about the market. He thinks that a particular product or service can create value, and therefore takes a risk to start a business. Ultimately, the hypothesis may fail or succeed. Somehow, a researcher in science performs the same journey. In spite of the differences, for a scientist, the market is the equivalent to knowledge and the risks are associated mainly to time or prestige, not money.

 

Which would you say are the reasons for the gap between the academic world and entrepreneurship, especially concerning principal investigators?

Reasons are related to a cultural and social reward system. In the case of Spain, a PI is someone within an academic track. The recognized merits are publications, publications and publications. Hence, a PI is not willing to waste time in matters besides academical targets. To start a company or to sell a patent requires a great deal of effort and a PI would rather spend his time focusing in other activities. Moreover, entrepreneurship in business requires a range of skills that a PI does not bring naturally which conveys an additional effort. In short, the established rewards system does not push PI’s into entrepreneurship.

 

Which was the major added value for you in The Collider?

I am a PI, therefore I feel not confident enough about my business skills. Nevertheless, I confess to having undertaken a postgraduate course in management a few years ago and I also have been involved in projects with business companies. Thus, I personally do not see the market as a dark matter outer in space. However, I truly do not see myself with enough time and strength to carry on a startup alone and I hope that The Collider programme can help me become part of a team that successfully transfers our technologies into society.

 

The two projects you are bringing along to the programme have already raised interest from corporations. How did it happen?

Our projects come from engineering technologies that can be applied to real problems. Maybe they are not on the top-notch technological wave -I mean industry 4.0, AI, etc.- but I think that a clear applicability raised up the interest of companies and the opportunity was served to join us throughout the programme.

 

Finally, where would you like to see your potential spin-offs in 5 years time?

In Nasdaq? Sorry, just kidding. I think this question should be addressed to the CEO. Nevertheless, as a PI I really don’t mind the scope; my only concern is to be able to create the company, transfer the technology and get enough customers to grow. I do not have a long-term plan.

Interviews

Interview | Cristian de Santos & Ignasi Aliguer, CEO & CTO at SAALG Geomechanics

Cristian de Santos and Ignasi Aliguer are a rara avis. Civil engineers by background, they realized on an early stage that they didn’t want to follow the academic path but pursue a business career instead. Their main goal? To transfer their knowledge and years of research in the field of geomechanics into the industry. In short, this was a perfect match with The Collider. That is why we joined efforts together to make their startup achieve its purpose and admittedly, the results have been outstanding so far. In such a short period, SAALG Geomechanics has already achieved a major investment by Mexican multinational company CEMEX and they have recently won an award by Deutsche Bahn to develop a pilot. But let them tell you about it by themselves:


 

How did you get started as a company and which is the milestone you hold more dearly in SAALG’s lifetime?

During our PhD years we realized we didn’t want to go for an academic career, so we started to think how we could start our own business in order to transfer all the research we had been working on the previous years.

CdS : The milestone that I hold more dearly is the moment when we got invested by the Corporate Venture Capital of CEMEX, a Multinational Company of the construction sector.

IAP: Cristian and I had been working together at SAALG for more than one year on our own. For me was very special the day we hired our first employee.

 

Could you tell us about the day-to-day in your company?

As entrepreneurs, our daily business is to deal with multiple different things such as: payroll, taxes, managing the engineers, marketing tasks, business development, seeking investment. You can tell, those are very different to what we were used to doing as researchers.

 

You both have an engineering background. Have you found it difficult having to combine product and business development?

Even though as engineers we didn’t have a business background, we have been always motivated and enthusiastic to develop our careers towards management and business. It has not been a straightforward path since we have had to learn many different tools and concepts (and still many more to learn). Fortunately, nowadays there are many accessible resources. Cristian recommends ‘Getting to Yes’ by W. Ury and Ignasi recommends ‘The roadside MBA’ by Mazzeo, Oyer and Schaefer.

 

How would you advise other entrepreneurs to prepare for the first round of investment?

It’s very important to dimension as accurately as possible your financial needs for the period of time you asking the money for. Also, you need to go for the type of investor that is going to give you more than just cash. At this stage, mentoring, connections, experience is even more valuable than the money itself.

 

Which is your plan for the long-term and how is The Collider team helping you to achieve your goals?

As a company, on the long shot,  we see ourselves being a disruptive agent in the construction industry empowering how decisions are made based on the analysis of real-time construction data. The Collider team, and MWCB, has been a key piece in the past couple of years providing us with the appropriate tools and people to make possible the step from researchers to businessmen.

Interviews

Interview | Eduard Alarcón, Professor at UPC BarcelonaTech & The Collider advisor

Eduard Alarcón is a member of The Collider’s experts committee. Alarcón is a professor and educator, research scientist and student mentor at the Technical University of Catalunya (UPC BarcelonaTech), his alma mater where he graduated MSc -with national award-, and PhD in 2000. He is faculty of the School of Telecommunications at UPC, where he was during the period 2006-2009 the Associate Dean of International Affairs at the School of Telecommunications Engineering. He is an internationally renowned speaker, with invited lectures, keynotes and tutorials across all continents. At The Collider experts’ committee, Alarcón offers a scholarly vision to strategic decisions. For example, he has been a key player in assessing the technological candidacies.


 

You are one of The Collider’s advisors. Please, tell us about your experience in this role.

This journey is being a privilege and a pleasure, mainly because of participating in a knowledge transfer program with unique features and vision, a program that’s innovating about innovation ecosystems. Its strength has been to attract and incorporate and integrate multiple expertise in a solid program with a crisp novel vision and plan with the proper interplay of all actors. Personally, learning from and working with experts from other domains, other disciplines, other areas, it’s being a genuine privilege.

 

From your experience as a professor, why would you say there are so little scientists with entrepreneurial ambition?

To my humble understanding, what we need is an entrepreneurial attitude, including first awareness of what entrepreneurship requests and implies, and then collectively take entrepreneurial action. I don’t think a majority of scientists need to acquire entrepreneurial traits, but they instead should preserve generation of novel knowledge and technologies, particularly since a premature entrepreneurial attitude might preclude to do so, which is an indispensable ingredient of innovation. But that knowledge and technology, once generated, needs to permeate through talent funnels. There is indeed a subset of scientists which should do so, either individually or ideal within a team that complements skills, as The Collider is fostering. I do think it’s only a matter of awareness, so that scientists, who inherently exhibit a curiosity for enquiring questions and solving problems, need to be open to problems of social impact. Additionally, we do think that the most virtuous model is not a model in which a single individual is concurrently a scientist and entrepreneur, but one in which a diverse team reinforces and complements, each individual component mastering and leading some expertise, traits or skills, but aware of what others do in pursuit of a tight complementarity. Such complex multi-facet polyhedron team would match the complex system of an entrepreneurial initiative, fractally placed in the complex (eco) system of innovation. We need to educate to make dealing with complexity less complicated.

 

Which deep technologies are developing more powerfully nowadays from your opinion?

A crucial momentum is occurring in the very field of Artificial Intelligence, an emergent field of activity that stands on top of just using AI algorithms, that up to know have been fruitful by leveraging the abundance of data and computing power. Such timely momentum has a double-fold focus, namely: (a) incorporating specific architectures and co-processors, including silicon chips, that allow low power operation aiming a distributed all-pervasive presence of Artificial Intelligence, as well as (b) Learning and modelling through AI generative models of complexity, this is, learning and modelling the graph network structure that represents the interplay different parts of the system. The combination of Complex Systems and Machine Learning would open floodgates to a new abyss of generative, robust, high-level, creative and scalable systems, that would be operable in natural contexts and human interaction. Learning and modelling complex systems would have a transversal impact to model, understand, predict and interact with any part of the world.

 

What future do you foresee for tech-transfer programs like The Collider?

It will be as prosperous as we manage to engage the different communities involved, complement the talents and build the bridge between, across and among the diverse groups involved. Namely, the knowledge and technology transfer would be fruitful and will generate manifold impact virtuous circles (or the so-called quintuple helix structures of innovation) provided that the different parts maintain their mission while aware of what other mission’s are, with a focus on their overlap oriented to creating talent funnels. This is, cross-awareness and talent diffusion and fusion. Seasoned by time. Fruits will be harvested when all these actions have as well timeliness.

 


 

Eduard Alarcón is a member of The Collider’s experts committee. Alarcón is a professor and educator, research scientist and student mentor at the Technical University of Catalunya (UPC BarcelonaTech), his alma mater where he graduated MSc -with national award-, and PhD in 2000. He is faculty of the School of Telecommunications at UPC, where he was during the period 2006-2009 the Associate Dean of International Affairs at the School of Telecommunications Engineering. The nomadic scholar life took him as invited professor to the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH), Stockholm, Sweden in 2011 and the University of Colorado at Boulder, USA, 2003 and 2006. His research mentoring of a constellation of some 20 research PhD candidate students across his career made him a prolific author with more than 500 co-authored scientific publications, 7 books, 8 book chapters and 12 patents, in the scientific fields of on-chip energy management and RF circuits, energy harvesting, nanosatellites and satellite architectures for Earth Observations, nanotechnology-enabled graphene wireless communications, molecular communications, and AI-defined networks, areas in which he has been participating in EU, DARPA, NSF, NASA and ESA projects, and projects and awards with companies as Google, Intel and Samsung, and in cooperation with colleagues at various departments of MIT, Cornell University, UC Berkeley, GeorgiaTech in US, and Cambridge, KTH, Aalto, EPFL and Moscow Skoltech in Europe. He is an international renowned speaker, with invited lectures, keynotes and tutorials across all continents, including invited lectures at MIT, Intel Massachusetts, IBM TJ Watson NY, Indian Institute of Technology Karagphur, Cadence Santa Clara, MIET Moscow, U. Auckland, New Zealand, U. Shiraz, Iran, and Samsung Advanced Institute of Technology  in Seoul, and he was elected IEEE distinguished lecturer in 2010. Professional officer responsibilities include election to IEEE CAS Board of Governors (2010-2013), and currently worldwide Vice President for Technical Activities of IEEE CAS (2017-2018). Extensive Editorial positions comprise now the current 2018 Editor-on-Chief of IEEE Journal on Emerging topics in Circuits and Systems, and conference organization encompass general co-chair of IEEE ISCAS 2020. He participates in various start-ups with a broad technical breadth as scientific mentor. In Academia, activities related to innovation in higher education include General co-chair of the 2014 CDIO Barcelona International Conference and organizing committee of the 2013 CDIO International conference hosted at MIT and Harvard.

Interviews

Interview | Pere Condom-Vilà, Director of Catalunya Emprèn & The Collider advisor

The Collider is proud to count with a representation of influential experts in its advisory board, including institutional, scientific and business profiles. The main goal of such committee is to offer advice on the big scale, resolving the future of projects and investment decisions, as well as expanding the program’s frontiers on the higher level.

Today, we present one of The Collider’s expert advisors, director of Catalunya Emprén (Generalitat de Catalunya), Pere Condom-Vilà. Pere brings together 20 years experience in technology transfer, technological entrepreneurship and management of large public research infrastructures. In this post, he shares with us his views on the challenges and rewards of tech-transfer and the opportunities offered to entrepreneurs on the public scope.


 

How did you first hear about The Collider and what is your role in the program?

The Collider is a well-known initiative here in the ecosystem of Barcelona. Being part of that ecosystem I was aware of the program since its very first moment, since its conception. MWCapital, promoter of The Collider, is a strong dynamizer of our ecosystem. So, we are always aware of them and of their projects. My role in the program is being a member of the expert committee.

 

Considering your experience collaborating with universities and the entrepreneur ecosystem, which would you say is the major challenge for Tech-Transfer Offices?

Tech Transfer Offices deal with research results which may be converted into technology and market opportunities. So, those offices deal with a very early stage of those opportunities. It is so early that it is extremely difficult to see and evaluate the potential of those technologies. This is more accentuated when the route to the market it is not a traditional license but a spinoff or a startup. So, devoting efforts and money to the right opportunities is the major challenge of the Tech Transfer Units.

 

As Director of Catalunya Emprèn, how do your organization support high-tech early-stage startups?

The Catalan Government devotes many efforts to entrepreneurship, to all kinds of entrepreneurs: small business and self-occupation, startups, spinoffs, social entrepreneurship, corporate entrepreneurship, etc. But we are aware that high-tech startups are today the best chance for promoting economic development. So we focus on several elements that support this kind of ventures: financing, acceleration and internationalization. We have several programs that focus on them; Startup Capital in Acció, missions to other global ecosystems, grants, participative loans, corporate venturing initiatives, the network of international offices of Acció, and so on. Catalunya Emprèn makes emphasis in extending (through the Primer Pre-Accelerator Program) the effect of Barcelona as an international hub of tech startup to other Catalan small and medium cities.

 

Which are the pros and cons of public incubation and acceleration programs like The Collider?

They only have pros. Public incubation has sense in risky early-stages. In those times, the private initiative has no incentives. Acting and devoting resources there is too risky. So the public initiative clears the way and prepares the right opportunities for the private sector to act later. It is a win-win situation. The society doesn’t lose good technologies that without that public incubation wouldn’t have overcome their initial moments.

Interviews

Interview | Manuel Palacín, The Collider programme manager

Manuel Palacín is the heart and soul of The Collider, standing in the programme since the very beginning. Thanks to his engineering background, Manuel has managed to connect with the TTOs and scientists to turn their potential into the market. To get a grasp of Manuel’s role at The Collider and his ideas about tech-transfer, make sure to read till the end.

Meet The Colliders!


How was the idea of The Collider born and how did you get involved in it?

I got involved in the Mobile World Capital Barcelona (MWCapital) in 2016 as a tech-transfer manager when The Collider did not exist as we know it today. At that time, all our team was focused on identifying the main stakeholders of the tech-transfer ecosystem (universities, research centres, researchers, projects…) and the synergies with the industry and the investor’s world.

The idea behind the programme was born at the beginning of 2017. After analysing different tech-transfer startups, we noticed that they didn’t get the optimal cruise speed mainly to the lack of previous entrepreneurial experience. At that time, we thought that we needed to change the traditional approach of starting tech-transfer ventures and we decided to create a programme that brought together scientific and industrial talent to lead deep-tech startups from ground 0.

 

Why does technological transfer matter to you?

I am a researcher at heart who’s found himself in the middle of the entrepreneurial world. As a representative of a public institution promoting knowledge-transfer initiatives, I think that tech-transfer is the instrument to build the bridge between science and business. The result is adding real value to society, not only through publications and proofs-of-concept but also real and tangible solutions with a direct impact on people’s lives and economy. To me, tech-transfer is a way-of-life, and a way to improve the cities of the future.

 

Which would you say is the added value of The Collider compared to other venture builders?

In short, the talent. We are a pioneering initiative that mixes business and tech profiles. Looking at The Collider candidates, you can easily notice how talented they are. On one hand, we welcome a wide range of profiles, from corporate businessmen and women to fundraising experts or serial entrepreneurs. On the other hand, we have extremely skilled researchers in deep-tech, not only from engineering backgrounds but also a vast variety of scientific profiles.

In addition, The Collider acts as a meeting point and leverages the potential of MWCapital in terms of networking. The Collider enables entrepreneurs to connect with high-profile corporations and investors to validate their business opportunity and assess them with fundraising.

 

How do you measure success in the program and why?

Our ultimate goal is to generate an optimal tech-transfer model that will promote as many research initiatives into the market as possible. We take into account quantitative KPIs such as the number of startups, the survival rate, the funding achieved, etc. But also we value qualitative indicators like mindset change in the research world or collateral alliances thanks to The Collider.

 

Finally, which are the major improvements in the current edition of The Collider?

We aim to position the programme as the major meeting point between the research and entrepreneurial worlds. Our ultimate goal is to bring value to all the stakeholders in the ecosystem and have a positive impact on society.

The main 3 pillars in the current edition of The Collider will be:

  • Talent: the best and most talented people from the research, entrepreneurial and business world.
  • Improved methodology: 6 months of formation and support from top-tier mentors and business experts.
  • Networking: access to an vast pool of corporations and investors.
Interviews

Interview | Ana Guasch, serial entrepreneur and lecturer


Ana Guasch got involved with The Collider as it was making its initial footsteps. She was in fact, one of our very first inspirational speakers thanks to her experience and drive as a serial entrepreneur. Now living in Dubai, and despite the numerous companies she has founded and supported, Ana always maintains an attitude of endless learning and curiosity.

Following her visit to The Collider after-work talks, Ana also offered a lecture on the USP (or unique selling proposition) and ultimately, got involved in one of The Collider teams that had lost its lead scientist (for Silicon Valley, admittedly) and was focussing in the retail industry.

For all of the above, we consider Ana one of our greatest ambassadors and we’re really pleased to interview her today, for everyone else to get to know her a little better.

Meet The Colliders!

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