Tue 06 Jul, 2021
CEEIARAGON | An EU|BIC by design, a Networker by vocation
CEEIARAGON has an enviable track record in supporting innovation-based companies in Aragon:
'80% of the companies that graduate from our centre survive their first ten years. We incubated more than 300 entrepreneurial projects. Among our current tenants, nine hold patents, and 12 participate in European projects on different topics (like biotechnology and agribusiness, efficient use of water, IoT, environment and sustainable development, telecommunications and industrial software, circular economy, solar energy, Industrial R&D, process development, water…). In addition, in 2020, 18 companies established companies collaborated with one of our tenant companies.”
Established on 9 January 1992 to promote the creation and development of innovative companies in Aragon (Spain), this EU|BIC is supported by the Regional Government (majority) in partnership with multiple regional partners such as business organisations, trade unions, the Chamber of Commerce, and the University of Zaragoza.
CEEIARAGON is made of 3 centres, located in Huesca, Zaragoza and Teruel respectively. They cover a working area of 7,000 m2 with industrial facilities, offices and meeting rooms, training rooms and events halls.
“Our infrastructures provide a favourable environment for entrepreneurs to develop their talent adequately, both for CEEIARAGON startups and for technology and innovation centres. This inclusion creates a diverse community that serves as a multiplier for developing business projects” tells us Celia García, CEO at CEEIARAGON. “We are proud of our multidisciplinary and highly experienced team of 15 that focuses its day-to-day activities on fulfilling our mission: to promote and support innovative business projects, as well as to promote an entrepreneurial culture in our society. The goal is to strengthen the Aragonese innovation ecosystem and contribute to its socio-economic development”.
Designed to be an EU|BIC, evolving to make the most of networks
'From the beginning, the BIC module was the most appropriate for our goals and centre'. For CEEIARAGON, being an EU|BIC was obvious and a natural element of its creation. The centre is designed to be an EU|BIC. 'BICs are the most effective method for the creation and development of innovative companies. EU|BICs are an internationally recognised brand. It helps our entrepreneurs strengthen their business projects, become confident in our access to market and internationalisation processes.
Beyond recognition, the networking elements that come with being an EU|BIC are highly valued.
'Networking and cooperation are increasingly critical to business success. Being an EU|BIC allows us to strengthen our network, share experiences with centres in other regions of Europe and enables us to work on joint projects in emerging sectors”.
In that spirit, “we actively collaborate with many partners, nationally and internationally with EBN and ANCES as the centre-pieces”. For example, CEEIARAGON is active in European projects, such as ACELE-STARTUPS (for developing cross-border startup acceleration methodology) and BIO-ALL (to cooperate for the innovation and exchange of good practices and alliances for knowledge in the biotechnology sector). It the latter, “We have prepared a report on good-practices in Biohealth, with an exhaustive mapping of trends, carried in the COVID-19 pandemic. We have also developed a Plan for innovation and entrepreneurship in Biohealth, an international joint postgraduate program and an acceleration program to support biohealth startups in the seed phase. For this project, participating in the EBN Special Interest Group in Circular Economy opened for us new opportunities and collaborations with other members. It is very enriching for our centre.”
“The networking and the certification of EU|BICs are fundamental to the strategic objectives that CEEIARAGON has set for the coming years, and which revolve around promoting the innovative ecosystem and facilitating their work through international cooperation. We want to connect with innovative European initiatives. Especially in digitisation, circular economy and social economy. So being an EU|BIC is of the most importance, both for the centre and for the entrepreneurs.”
To Members: Feel free to connect with Celia García or any other elements of the CEEIARAGON team. “Happy to have a chat about innovation trends, methodologies, use cases, ways to help our entrepreneurs in Aragon… Anyone with a good story about how to help innovative entrepreneurs to succeed. It is always very enriching.”
“We can talk about our CRECE service [more on this item later] and the development of innovative business projects for European BICs, as we are already doing in the ACELE-STARTUPS project in collaboration with a French BIC. We can create a great support network for innovative entrepreneurs in Europe, especially when they want to internationalise their products or services. We can certainly be of great help.”
Goals remain. Surroundings, needs, technology and methods change. We evolve with them
“We are in a continuous process of transformation to be able to adapt at the speed of times for our entrepreneurs.” Through the years, CEEIARAGON has been adapting to the changing needs and developments in the business sector.
CEEIARAGON uses its specific methodological take to business innovation support based on the Lean Startup approach: 'The entrepreneur is closely followed, from the idea to the foundation, with growth and scalability in mind. In our methodology, we start working with entrepreneurs very early on. It allows us to be one step ahead, helping avoid typical early pitfalls and to better guide the effort to focus on the desired target”. But one of its secrets is to going beyond for its clients. “One of our first clients was Terra, a company dedicated to the development of a new generation of industrial absorbents. In the beginning, their production system was manual, so a large number of absorbents spread throughout our gardens. Over time, they automated the process. Another curious case was of one of our partners who liked to sail. They always had a boat parked in our parking lot.”
“We adapt to times and trends in technology, translating it to our clients’ needs. For several years, demand for an industrial project was the norm. Then it was IT, then Biotechnology, nanotechnology and new materials, and after that, energy efficiency, and back to demand of industrial projects and circular economy. Working with innovative and technological projects for almost 30 years, we have seen many original ideas. And many of them have played an important role in the hard days of the pandemic, helping with their means in the best possible way, analysing samples, manufacturing tests, manufacturing respirator, CO2 measurement systems, temperature measurement systems, etc. It made us feel like proud parents.”
Like all of us, although its facilities remained open, the pandemic forced CEEIARAGON technicians to attend clients online. “This was a big challenge. We managed to overcome it and learned a lot in the process. We learned we can have clients outside our incubator. That was the seed for our new services CRECE. Now we can help entrepreneurs anywhere in our region.”
CRECE (Grow) helps companies and entrepreneurs who do not need physical facilities but need support for their projects. “With CRECE a great new window has opened for us. We are now supporting a much larger number of projects. We are no longer limited to advising 40-50 companies. Which also makes it possible to expand our community and multiply synergies'.
In this sense, the actions defined in the Strategic Plan prepared and approved in 2020 were launched. The plan addresses “The digital transformation and efficiency of the EU|BIC, to be more innovative, efficient, and modern. The attraction of companies and client loyalty, with incubator services, CRECE services and, in general, the contribution of added value to entrepreneurs and projects in our region. Reinforcement of our position as an innovation and business-support player. Develop our surroundings to foster a favourable innovation ecosystem, both with facilities and the training of professionals in digitisation and circular economy, entrepreneurship and innovation. And, finally, take advantage of channels for innovation between different actors, such as EBN. The final long-term objective is to generate a strong and consolidated ecosystem that fosters business innovation in Aragon, bringing together training, research, business, large companies, business organisations and the public sector.”
“Adapting to the times is essential, and more so in a changing environment. So we must continually update and adapt our services to entrepreneurs. Without a doubt, we do this without losing sight of the values that formed the foundation for CEEIARAGON. These values that continue to be valid today and that are none other than supporting and helping startups, entrepreneurs which, through innovation, ensure a more competitive business fabric capable of internationalising its products and services.”