The newspaper Información and Google have asked me to make a brief reference to “Alicante in the Digital economy”, On such an important occasion, for the recognition that Google will give to the Valencian Community in this same act (Google Activate the Valencian Community Award).
Beyond innovation, disruption and digital transformation
Let me start with the obvious: For a country there is no future without a digital economy. Nobody disputes the need and interest of infrastructures such as the Mediterranean Corridor, fundamental and essential for many reasons and to whose claim I join in the most enthusiastic way. But infrastructures, without relevant economic activity, do not lead anywhere. In this the Valencian Community and Spain have had a sobering and recent experience.
AND the economic activity of the future is inextricably linked to the digital economy. In the world, the major companies of reference are no longer the oil companies, the banks or the large public service companies (the so-called utilites). Google, Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, Facebook, many other companies are being added below that affect our taxis today, tomorrow to the accommodation offer, the day after tomorrow to banks ... Hundreds of unicorns -most from the United States or Asia - that they are giving way to a digital economy that not only transforms the traditional one but - if you will allow me the term - the “disrupted” and generates a new sectorialized economic fabric with names and surnames: fintech, protech, agrotech foodtech, traveltech edtech, edutech…
In Spain, the Minister of Employment indicated a few days ago that, according to the most recent data, 18% of the jobs created in our country belong to the field of the digital economy. She herself cited that by Every two jobs lost in the traditional economy, five are created in the digital one. And I think they are few. There are many, many job vacancies to fill the area of the digital economy, across Europe it is estimated more than 900,000.
Talking about innovation today is like saying nothing
Talking about innovation today is like saying nothing. Already there are no innovation processes in use, in the style of what has been happening a few decades ago. There is disruption. This is, Technologies that profoundly alter the rules of the game in terms of the existing products and services themselves, their prices, distribution, job qualification, means of payment, are increasingly breaking into markets.…
To survive disruption, all sectors and companies must face a essential digital transformation. And for this having a strong digital economy is critical, an ecosystem with talent, startups-digital companies specialized in key sectors such as data or Artificial Intelligence.
The digital potential of the province of Alicante
The digital potential of the province of Alicante is an asset of the highest order for the Valencian Community and for Spain. But there is little knowledge of this.
Alicante being faithful to its model of territorial decentralization presents a mosaic of digital companies called to lead some fields of the digital economy in Spain, Europe or even the world. Success cases without official aid, accelerators or financial support (beyond the usual family, friends and fools…), Nor in any “hub” or privileged ecosystem. As I have said, these cases of success, if we map them, are in points as distant as Alcoy, El Campello, Finestrat, Callosa, Elda, Elche, Torrellano, Jávea, Alicante ... Some were born and developed in the worst years of the crisis in Spain. In the same period that 1,000,000 young Spaniards left our country.
These extraordinarily interesting success stories They belong to sectors as diverse as mobile or music telephony hardware, the creation of a digital brand and online commerce around sunglasses (on the way to being the third largest product in the world for this product, a company that did not exist just 4 years), the distribution of video games, sports video games on mobile platforms, the attraction of digital nomads, web developments around cuisine and gastronomy, the geolocation of images, or services such as the capture of leads, to cite just a few examples.
These companies have in some cases attracted the attention of top international companies North American (video game security, systems performance services), Japanese (kitchen-gastronomy) or German (big data + artificial intelligence), acquiring them and / or through strategic agreements.
Alicante networking from below: one of the keys to the success of the Alicante ecosystem
An asset of this unplanned development has been the networking, the development of spontaneous collaborative platforms. I proudly belong to the Hacker Club of Alicante, promoted about seven years ago by Eduardo Manchón and Andrés Torrubia. Some sessions that have dealt with the critical case study I must rate them worthy of the best business schools in the world. The Hacker Club has been the inspiration for AlicanTEC, a non-profit cultural association, which I chair and whose objective is to support the development of the digital economy in the province of Alicante. Its board is indicative of local or imported Alicante talent: Andrés Torrubia, Nuria Oliver, Javier García, Eduardo Manchón, Manuel Desantes, Ezequiel Sánchez, Rebecca Rippin, Angel Pineda, Eugenio Triana, among others ... The make up about 150 member companies that today offer a solid bottom line in the field of the digital economy.
This little Alicante ecosystem is full of potential. It is a piece in the Valencian Community of the best international digital ecosystems, cable to pivot towards the future and promote solid processes of digital transformation even in conventional economics. The depth and complexity of the current digital transformation (the current president of BBVA I remember saying that a bank will be a software company) requires, I insist, a strong digital economy, with extraordinarily competitive digital services companies and far from improvisations.
There is a generation of digital services companies in Alicante whose prestige and competitiveness is projected beyond our territorial scope. They are exporting their services to Madrid, London, Mexico, Lisbon ... Their offers, beyond the prevailing topics, place them among the most competitive companies in the treatment and generation of data or in machine learning and its application to digital marketing and online commerce. Or in the difficult art of digital design in the field of mobile
These Digital services have already yielded very significant results in companies in traditional sectors in the province of Alicante. The most notable the take off of online commerce in footwear companies and other similar products. The generation of competitive CRM linked to chatbots is revolutionary for companies. In this area our province was a pioneer through the work and grace of Eduardo Manchon who designed the chatbot for train schedules in California and in the Valencian Community and Catalonia was the first to disseminate the revolutionary advantages of this type of service in conventional companies.
In the field of digital services in Alicante there are companies with more than a thousand workers as in the case of the companies that cover services throughout the Spanish territory of Movistar or Vodafone. But there are also 90 or 10 workers who are among the best in their specialty in Spain
The potential and future of Alicante as an ecosystem
Without sinning in triumph, Alicante has an extraordinary digital future ahead. Alicante digital companies by themselves are showing a capacity to pivot, to adapt to the pace of exponential innovation that we are experiencing. IoT, Blockchain, Machine Learning, Cybersecurity ... will be fields that will not go unnoticed in Alicante.
Andres Torrubia A couple of months ago he was the 4th world top of the Udacity-Didi challenge in Artificial Intelligence (automatic driving) being the only European classified competing with the best North American, Chinese and Russian mathematicians and engineers among 4,000 participants. This feat was repeated this week in a new challenge, finishing 2nd in a first qualifying round in which 2,000 specialists from around the world participate in another new challenge launched by US intelligence in recognition of blurry images captured by satellite. Its companies related to health or service intermediation are already pioneers in the application of some of the technologies related to AI.
In the University of Alicante Many important things happen in the technological field. There are top-of-the-line researchers in AI or technologies like blokchain. The Higher Polytechnic School (EPS) directed by Andres Montoyo It is an example of the transfer of information technology to top-level Spanish and Alicante companies. I cannot fail to mention that digital projects with international prestige have been promoted at the University of Alicante. From the well-known Miguel de Cervantes Virtual Library, awarded by Stanford University, or more recently by Red.es, for some of its technological advances applied to this area, through Universia in whose first projects the UA participated very actively. Or more recentlypromoting and leading in a pioneering way in Europe an issue of transcendence such as MOOCs. Unimooc In its origins it was a collaborative project between Banco Santander, Google, CRUE, UIMP and other universities (Alicante, Murcia ..) that has given way to the current UNIMOOC (340,000 entrepreneurs from more than 100 countries), Miriadax, the project that Santander finally built with Telefónica, or the development of Google Europe's own technology for Google Activate that the professor has promoted and directed so far Pedro Pernías, after several meetings with top international experts and those responsible for Google in education.
The success of the Google Activate program in the Valencian Community
The very success of the Google Activate program in the Valencian Community - which Francisco Ruiz will surely refer to - is a magnificent exponent and indicator of the digital vitality of our province. I will not elaborate, I will simply say that it highlights the awareness of its young people by acquiring the skills that facilitate their employability or the ability to undertake. We also have success stories among students. Like the Alicante Raquel Garcia Castellano, today a successful professional, who was chosen among the hundreds of thousands of successful Google Activate students for projection and promotion throughout Europe.
Among the contributions of Alicante in Google is also our contribution by the ADEI Observatory, considered the first and most relevant think-tank on digital economy in Spain with studies and analysis on the most outstanding aspects of the digital economy in our country.
Alicante as an international digital ecosystem
Alicante must aspire to much more in the future. Alicante meets all the requirements of an international digital ecosystem:
- One of the best airports in Europe with cheap flight companies 117 destinations.
- 2.1 million inhabitants in a radius of 120 km. around
- In that radius it also has 7 universities, two science parks, one of the best business parks in the Mediterranean arch.
- The existing coworking spaces in Alicante city and province are abuzz with small digital events, fostering collaboration and learning.
- International services such as EUIPO
- Quality and cost of living ...
- In the regional ecosystem of the Marina de Valencia area, a technological-digital financial hub with projects of the highest relevance such as Lanzadera, Innsomnia, or initiatives or as DCN Ventures (a private Valencian venture capital fund focused on biotechnology and the digital economy ). More recently we add Caixabank in Valencia and Baco Sabadell in Alicante.
Administrations must believe in the potential of Alicante. Its digital ecosystem should be a Spanish and Community commitment capable of attracting digital companies from other countries (Brexit, Nordic countries, even the situation in other areas of Spain ...). But you have to remember that Leaving Silicon Valley aside, in the rest of the world's digital ecosystems, public administrations have played a relevant role in both Europe and Asia. Dublin, Berlin. London, Bristol, Helsinki, Estonia, Bangalore, Singapore, South Korea, Shenzhen ... offer a set of very inspiring ways to promote the development of the digital economy (IoT, smart cities, fintech, blockchain, AI ... )
To finish I will say that eThis award is great news for the Valencian Community and for Alicante. A fulcrum for the hope of young entrepreneursto whom I dedicate this thought of Steve Jobs:
“Don't get caught up in dogma, which is living like others think you should live. Don't let the noises of other people's opinions silence your own inner voice. And, most importantly, have the courage to do what your heart and intuition tell you ”.
Thank you very much
Andrés Pedreño. President of AlicanTEC Alicante, November 22, 2020
- What is digitizing the economy (and especially what is not)
- The digital economy is not among the political priorities: 13 reasons why it should be