"This was my second time as a coach in EIT Alumni Startup Days. I couldn’t be happier when Robin asked me to attend again this year.
On last edition, the event was held at UPC Campus. It consisted in a two-day startup competition with brain storming sessions, business model canvas covering walls, caffeine running through our veins and of course, lots of pizza. The organizers, lecturers, senior coaches and judges were experienced, helpful and inspiring. In addition, the competitors were creative, bold and hard-working. Therefore, the results of the competition were amazing, and so was the experience. How to say no to this? Meeting great people who come from very different backgrounds and who want to change the world for the better... even during the weekend!
However, 2018 edition was a bit different. First of all, the venue was a co-working space called Apocapoc. This place is in the heart of ‘El Born’, one of the most artistic and trendy quarters in Barcelona, where tradition and innovation, old and new, medieval and digital meet. Looks like the perfect place to start, right?
Furthermore, this year the event was a 12 hours hackathon, gravitating towards a very interesting challenge: How to transform the northern littoral of Barcelona, a degraded post-industrial area, into an
innovation hub? Upcycling at its best! Actually, this is a very common situation in many European cities, facing the opportunity to shift their old economies to participate in the 4th industrial revolution.
This challenge was provided by Daria Tataj, one of the first members of the EIT Governing Board and advisor to EU Commissioner Moedas. On top of that, we attended a priceless masterclass about 22@ Innovation District in Barcelona by Dr. Josep Pique. He is one of the key personalities in Barcelona eco- system and globally, President of the International Association of Science Parks AISP, and CEO of
Technova, one of the largest incubators in Barcelona located at LaSalle University of Technology. Then, we were ready for work. Some people started pitching ideas to face the challenge and teams were formed to work further on the best projects. Then the coaches tried to help groups to take advantage of the opportunities. Using methods and tools such as Design Thinking, Business Model Canvas, Value Proposition Canvas and others, the parties analysed the current problems in the area, and designed a pathway to reach their respective visions. In the evening, after very long day of work and sun bathing (we are in Spain after all) the teams were ready to present their ideas in front of the jury. Particularly interesting were the different ways to approach integration of local people, with traditional immigration and new technology companies established in the area. For example, imagine that you are hungry on a Saturday night, what about a drone kebab delivery service? To sum up, the presentations were so good that the jury was in trouble to choose a champion. As a result, taking an unprecedent Solomonic decision, they resolved to declare everybody winner. Therefore, every team will have the opportunity to choose a couple of representatives and send them to enjoy the prize and participate in the 24 hour retreat with Daria Tataj to work on their ideas on-site! Finally, to put the icing on a cake full of exciting challenges and learnings, we finished dinner altogether (vegetarian, of course) and said goodbye to our old and new friends. The most repeated sentence was: ‘I hope to see you here next year.’
So... we hope to see you all soon in EIT Startup Days!
P.S. Last, but not least, I want to thank everybody who made this event possible: organizers and coaches (Franz Bonadiman, Erik Berdonces, Miguel Amador, David Farache, Robin Maxton, Leon Haupt, Jose María García, Sergi Ortiz and Claudio Geyken); jury members (Victor Betran, Daria Tataj, Dr Josep Piqué, David Comellas, Fabien Franceschini and Leonor González) and to all the participants.
Credits for the pictures. EIT Alumni, Leon Haupt and Javier Cañas Andreu.