Carlos Navarro, director of Aciisi: “With innovative entrepreneurship we must respond to the reality we have in the Canary Islands”

Carlos Andrés Navarro

Impulsa Startups / Enrique Fárez


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Carlos Navarro, director of the Canarian Agency for Research, Innovation and Information Society (ACIISI), in the interview provided to Impulsa Startups, states that “we really have to look at what we are trying to support, which is innovative entrepreneurship, which many people think that this is about technology companies only, and have that broad view and we have to adapt that entrepreneurial culture so that it can respond to the reality that we have in the Canary Islands, such as the importance of those matters linked to the social”.

In the Canary Islands right now “we are in luck in the field of the development of emerging and innovative companies, which is not just the work of the ACIISI, but rather the work of the entire government, especially the Ministry of Economy, Knowledge and Employment. What we do at the Canarian Innovation Agency is to accelerate the innovative projects that are carried out by this type of company or any company. But especially focusing on this type of projects linked in the digital, technological field, always with a level of sophistication, with a degree of innovation”.

For Carlos Navarro, “this is work that has not been done by ACIISI alone, we are working very closely with Emerge especially, to whom I have to thank for their loyalty and selfless work when it comes to launching policies that have to reach especially the young people because we have this mission to diversify the economy and move towards an economy especially linked to knowledge”.

“We must also reinforce the industrial capacities that we have and that have shown how fundamental they are, especially in these times of wars, of pandemics. We have seen the importance of having a strong production industry here. But many of them that we have to create, logically we do not have those raw materials and we have to scale with an industry more based on digital, based on knowledge and bet on all this development, ”says Navarro.

On the other hand, there is a new platform created with the intention of helping those who wish to undertake: “this year we have a new program, a flagship program that we call ”Canarias Stars“ which is a totally new performance endowed with two million of euros, in which approximately one million euros will go to support all these innovative projects, acceleration, mentoring, advisory... in short, to support people who have decided to undertake and who need an acceleration of their projects, as well as direct aid that will be between 70,000 and 75,000 euros”.

“We are working to simplify all the bureaucracy and all the guarantees as much as possible, which is what this Entrepreneurial Nation strategy is also about and this vision that is given of the startup law in which what we are looking for is, precisely, to make agile the process with which this type of company is developed in Spain and the Canary Islands. We are working to try to get her called up before August arrives. Let's see if we can release it for those dates. If not, it will be just after the summer and, as I say, it will be a novelty, a bet in which the councilor Elena Máñez is very involved. It has been a personal commitment of hers for this type of acceleration of companies and, as I say, it is a flagship program that we are also going to continue with that commitment and we have traced a course from which we do not intend to move an iota. On the contrary, keep increasing it. This is a powerful action”, signs the director of ACIISI.

“It is a help that is going to come in handy and that we have not ”invented“ only from the agency, but rather it has been the result of working on it in the startup ecosystem, with the innovative ecosystem, asking what are the real needs that are they need when it comes to accelerating a company, that is, we have gone to ask people who are experiencing it, who have already been through it. It is a watchword of this government, of this ministry and of the agency itself in which we like to do all actions hand in hand, we like to go fast, and we also like to go far. And for that, the best thing is to be accompanied and that is why I think we are in luck”, in Navarro's opinion.

“On July 8 we are also going to make a debut, show the work that is being done in the innovative ecosystem of the Canary Islands, explain the good projects that we have, companies that are secret, jewels that we have hidden, that nobody knows about, but they are companies that are contributing a lot to the Canary Islands, that are working in all parts of the world with an international vision in the United States, in Europe, in Africa and in many countries linked to sectors that we cannot imagine that they are working from the Canary Islands. From the chip industry to aerospace, cheers. There are many companies that are the capital of the Canary Islands and we have to protect them”.

The possibility of carrying out several projects simultaneously is not always possible through a single group of people. These projects go ahead thanks to the coordination between ACIISI and the Canarian employment service. Carlos Navarro affirmed that “here is that the need has made us a virtue of being constantly merged when it comes to sharing those projects, initiatives, actions that we know are adjacent and, as I say, not only with the Canarian employment service. I'm not talking about the council, I'm also talking about the entire government. Logically, with the closest companions it is much more routine. But at the level of the entire government there is magnificent coordination with the presidency, with other areas to which we are linked”.

“There is a really extensive panorama of aid from the agency that this year has increased its budget, and also during the year we continue to attract more funding. I would also like to underline the work done by the entire agency team, all the officials we have, who are doing a job, especially in the most difficult times during the pandemic. During crises too, like the La Palma volcano. I believe that this agency is in a very sweet moment, a moment in which it has been placed in the media spotlight, it has also been placed in the central focus of the government despite all the issues that we have to resolve. It is betting on looking to the future with a consensus in the agency and in innovation”, emphasizes Navarro.

For the director of ACIISI, “we must reach full agreement with all forces. That is why we are talking about it with the entire social agreement, with unions, NGOs, businessmen, business confederations, universities, research centers, councils, with all the parties trying to form a Pact for Science, which is what we are going to present during this month. A pact in which we all commit ourselves to promote this financing for these areas, to favor the need we have to improve the governance of the ecosystem, the participation of all agents in this common cause. In these things we have to have a fixed course.”

“Another very important point that is not only attracting all that talent but also knowing how to retain it in the Canary Islands, which is essential. These companies, many of them have that difficulty. And also from the Canary Islands, sometimes it is difficult to retain them because we are in a globalized world. From the Canary Islands we have to know how to search, as far as possible, to retain our talent, attract the one that has left and the one that is not going to return, connect it. This is a question that I always defend: we have a lot of talent spread all over the world”, assures the director of ACIISI.

“We have many people -Navarro continues- who are in countries working in all kinds of high-level sectors and who continue to be Canarians, continue to be linked to their land, perhaps for various personal reasons and not just professional ones. But they are still Canarians who continue to call and continue to want to participate from where they are now to help the Canary Islands. And I really believe that this is a peculiarity of being an islander and we have to know how to take advantage of it. That is why I say, what is true for the continent is not always true for the islands and what is true for the islands is not always true for the mainland. That is why we have this job of knowing how to understand the world, knowing what the role of the Canary Islands is and from there building what we can really build”.

In relation to young talent, Carlos Navarro affirms “that professional training is a great unknown, but less and less. The usefulness of this type of study has been demonstrated and I believe that we are, now more than ever, in a resurgence and interest in professional training. It really seems to me that there is an increasing need for this type of profession, study and guidance. Companies and industries are asking us. There is a high degree of direct employability and tremendous entrepreneurship capabilities. Really, as soon as one knows the plans for the Vocational Training and how these programs are being developed, it really is something spectacular. And it also makes us rethink that old scheme in which it seems that if we have not reached the university we have not reached the zenith of training and that is a big mistake. And what are we going to talk about entrepreneurship, which effectively from professionalization is where many companies start. I do not share that slightly classic vision of what was proposed with VT. That is a completely absurd myth.”

The director of ACIISI also highlights Diginnova, “a spectacular program in which we have invested 5 million euros this year and it is a very powerful action”. “It is linked to FP and university students. The two university foundations are articulating it, but it is not exclusively linked to university students. We consider people who are in VET fully qualified to participate in these programs”. The program is currently “already training 800 people, of whom we are going to incorporate 440 companies for 10 months in which we give them a salary. remuneration through an internship contract. Although it is an internship contract, we have chosen to put the maximum amount that can be paid in an internship contract, we did not want a ”grant“. We really wanted the work they are going to do or the learning that these people are going to do to be valued and after going through a training program in the field of innovation, digitization and sustainability they are incorporated into companies, in research centers as well to develop innovative projects. Projects that are necessary right now within any company. They need an accompaniment.”

“These people can help companies access the lines we have in public administration, both lines in this agency and other areas of government. But also especially with a lot of interest in attracting that financing that is coming out of the ministries, from the Recovery and Resilience Mechanism (MRR). On many occasions financing is escaping due to lack of knowledge or lack of support or day to day that we do not pay enough attention to it. So, these regional, national and European lines are closer thanks to the incorporation of these people, whose purpose is, apart from doing training and growing professionally, to get a project in which that person is also linked and they start a working relationship. long lasting. it is opening a door, I like to say a premium program, where we also bring all kinds of people who can add value. It is a project that touches a little all the sticks of diversification”, says Carlos Navarro.

Regarding open innovation or “corporate venturing”, Navarro considers that “it is fantastic. They are also hatching from the companies, which are associated. Funds are beginning to appear that are betting on this type of initiative, some in one way and others in another. I am convinced that we will end up developing here an important ecosystem for financing innovative projects. There is a lot of interest in materializing funds.”

“Speaking of students, not only of companies, but from the university itself, university spin-offs are being favored. Here is another completely new action, novel, unpublished: the iCourage program. It is promoted by the two universities to accelerate and create, undertake and transmit knowledge in the form of innovative companies, specifically university spin-offs. In the universities we also have many capacities that have to materialize. We have also invested in financing and a program there. Each university has its own to make university spin-offs emerge and value so much research that we have developed in our universities. A completely new action and I believe that, taking stock of the entire program of actions of this ministry and now sticking to the part of the agency, I believe that the commitment to entrepreneurship that we are making in this legislature and in this last year is something unpublished. It has never happened.”

On July 5, the resolution of the call for the award of Social Innovation projects amounting to more than 300,000 euros took place. This is the second year that the Ministry of Economy, Knowledge and Employment, through the ACIISI, has called this help line in order to continue advancing in the development of a more sustainable Canary Islands in social and environmental terms to help guarantee levels of employment and quality of life for citizens, and that Carlos Navarro valued with great emphasis during the interview.

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