Olatz Goitia is the general manager of Beaz, the managing entity of Bic Bizkaia. She is the protagonist of this new installment of Ances Talent. Olatz, let’s start with the last thing. Just the day we conducted this interview, Beaz announced the 5 startups that will participate in the second edition of the Beaz Acceleration Program, a program that -as we have seen- offers to “take companies to the next level. What kind of companies participate in this initiative, what results did you obtain in the first edition and what do you expect from the second edition?
Beaz Acceleration Program is designed for technology startups with a differential value proposition and that are in the process of scaling their business. To this end, in the selection phase we look not only at the degree of innovation of the proposal presented to us, but also at the level of development of the minimum viable product, the market contrast carried out, and the capacity of the promoter team to develop the scaling plan proposed. In addition, the admission committee focuses on the application sector of the projects, not in vain, both the 5 startups participating in the first edition and the 5 selected for this edition of 2023 propose solutions for one of the three main transitions we are living: digital, energy-environmental, or socio-health.
The results of the first edition have been very satisfactory. The fact that this is a very selective program (only 5 startups are selected per call), favors a very personalized attention for each one of them: the Mentor Council assigned to them, formed by five high-level profiles, has an impact on the redefinition of the business model of the startups and the deployment of the necessary action plan to be able to address their growth. The impulse received, the numerous contacts made, the support in investment rounds, the change of mentality, … are ideas that the startups themselves reiterate when evaluating this high performance program.
For this second edition, and with the lessons learned in the previous edition, we have tried to improve the contents of the program. In addition, as a novelty, we incorporate “alumni” sessions, through which to generate a community among the startups participating in different editions.
Beaz is also committed to open innovation. You have launched a new challenge, through the platform BIOK! Why this commitment to open innovation?
It is a total commitment. We believe that open innovation is a highway to consolidate the level of competitiveness of our territory. Through it, we attract talent and capabilities to benchmark companies, which in turn drive startups. It is therefore an accelerator of innovation for companies in Bizkaia, which is leveraged on collective intelligence models.
Open innovation is a complementary way to address problems of our economy and to develop solutions from Bizkaia and towards the world.
The Bizkaia-Jyväskylä Innovation Bridge Program also attracts our attention. What does this collaboration with this Finnish region consist of?
Jyväskylä is a Finnish region known for its high specialization in technologies related to health, sports performance and cybersecurity, sectors of special interest for Bizkaia. As its name says, with this program we wanted to build a bridge of innovation that allows both entrepreneurial ecosystems to maintain a regular relationship, share opportunities, identify expert collaborators, and co-develop projects.
But Jyväskylä is not an isolated case. From the Provincial Council of Bizkaia, and through Beaz, there are links with other regions of the world. Tel Aviv, Boston, Austin, Seoul, Berlin… are other nodes with which such bridges for collaboration are being created. Always with the same objective: to generate opportunities for companies in Bizkaia, identify new capabilities in the regions with which we collaborate and try to attract capabilities from these regions to Bizkaia.
Acceleration programs, open innovation initiatives, international projects… What other services do you offer? In other words, what is Beaz and what are its fundamental objectives?
Beaz is a public company whose objective is to support companies and entrepreneurs in their efforts to create new projects, innovate and internationalize. To this end, we offer different services that allow us to define support itineraries adapted to each company or project. We are continuously identifying and defining new support services, always adapting our offer to the current situation of our clients. In order to adequately respond to this objective, Beaz has its own innovation department, in charge of measuring the effectiveness of the portfolio of services we offer, identifying the necessary improvements and designing the new offer to be launched.
In order to identify new trends or strategies to support companies, we leverage our Technology Watch and Competitive Intelligence services. On the other hand, we collaborate in the management of more than 11 aid programs of the Provincial Council of Bizkaia, which gives us an accurate vision of the real needs of the companies.
The balance of BEAZ’s activities last year highlighted the support provided to 1,167 companies. We know it’s too early to talk about this year’s conclusions, but halfway through the year, what are your expectations? How is 2023 shaping up?
In 2023 there has been an increase in applications to the Innovation and Internationalization programs, that is a fact. In our day-to-day work, we continue to work on the open innovation path, highlighting its consolidation in the govtech field. In terms of expectations, this year sees the launch of the expansion of BAT, B Accelerator Tower, and we are multiplying our efforts to accelerate the relationship with international nodes: in June we traveled to Italy and, in the coming months, we will visit other very powerful centers to open up specific lines of work.
BIC Bizkaia is one of the 34 partners of the ANCES network. What does your association with the network bring to the BIC?
Being part of ANCES gives us greater visibility and enhances our work. Belonging to a network is a tool to share knowledge with other agents and to identify opportunities for the companies we work with.
On the other hand, what can Beaz, as the managing entity of BIC Bizkaia, contribute to the rest of ANCES members?
Beaz is the dean of the CEEI/BICs in Spain and one of the first six created in Europe. We have a history and that makes you a reference, which brings with it the responsibility to do things well. I believe we can bring perspective, knowledge and a certain breadth of approach to the issues at hand.
One last question. Any advice for those who are thinking about entrepreneurship?
That they dare, that they try and, above all, that they analyze the opportunities very well, that they look for good companions and that any step they take is done with data in hand.
And they should do so with the peace of mind of knowing that, although the path of an entrepreneur is hard, it is not a lonely one: entities such as Beaz, or the respective BIC in their region, will be ready to help them.
There is no greater value to a region’s economy than the entrepreneurial capacity it can harbor. Entrepreneurs should always be encouraged to imagine and create, because as the writer Saramago said “Don’t forget that what we call reality today was imagination yesterday”.