The EU-LAC Digital Accelerator is an initiative financed under the Neighborhood, Development & International Cooperation Instrument (NDICI-Global Europe) in the framework of the EU-LAC Digital Alliance, focused on fostering multi-stakeholder and private sector collaboration, competitiveness, digital skills and innovation, through the establishment of a regional EU-LAC Digital Accelerator.

The EU LAC Digital Accelerator works as a multi-sided platform connecting business opportunities from corporates with innovative startups and SMEs between the European Union, Latin America and the Caribbean. The initiative is formed by 10 organisations distributed in these 2 continents consolidating 1 strong team. 

Today we are interviewing Mr. Josemaria Siota, the Executive Director of the Entrepreneurship and Innovation Center at IESE Business School. Look what he told us in this short video and read more details of our talks in the article!

Hi Josemaria, can you tell us about your position at IESE Business School?

Entrepreneurship is part of our school’s mission. We aim to develop leaders who will have a deep and lasting impact through their professional excellence and spirit of service. Successful entrepreneurs, those with a real sense of purpose, provide a great service to society.

“We define it as the ability to craft, develop and grow new opportunities, both through start-up projects and within existing firms. The value of an entrepreneurial mindset is transmitted through all our programs and activities,” as IESE’s Academic Director Prof. Mª Julia Prats says.

Entrepreneurship is a mindset, a behavior, and a way of thinking. IESE entrepreneurship faculty develops cutting-edge research, shedding light on novel, relevant, and impactful fields. However, entrepreneurship needs more than academic knowledge to flourish. “This is why the school has developed a full and connected ecosystem to support our students, alumni, and society to bring entrepreneurial dreams to life,” as one of IESE’s Associate Directors of the Entrepreneurship and Innovation Center (EIC) Mar Martinez explains.

IESE’s EIC encompasses the WeStart and WeGrow mentoring initiatives, Technology Transfer Group, International Search Funds Institute, Open Innovation and Corporate Venturing Institute, Business Angels Network, and much more.

We would like to know more about your organisation, what are you focused on and what is your field of expertise?

IESE was the first European business school to teach entrepreneurship in its MBA program in 1974. Since then, the school’s entrepreneurship and innovation activity has grown in quality, quantity, connectedness, and impact. Global indexes in entrepreneurship and innovation have recognised this positive impact, especially during the past four years, ranking the school as one of the leading institutions in this field. We develop knowledge and curated networks in topics such as startups, scale-ups, corporate innovation, technology transfer, entrepreneurial finance, search funds, and more.

The school has 55,000+ alumni in 142 countries. The founders of this network have created 72,000 jobs and raised $12.7 billion of capital for these ventures. It publishes around 20 pieces on entrepreneurship per year, summing up 1,655 publications over the years.

More connected with the project, we lead cutting-edge research on open innovation, corporate venturing, and technology transfer, working around the world with successful Chief Innovation Officers and top-tier academics, to create a positive impact in society.

Considered “one of the world’s most influential speakers on corporate venturing” by the newspaper South China Morning Post, we have been designated Experts on Corporate Venturing at the European Commission and the World Economic Forum. We have published books and studies on these topics for Harvard Business Review, MIT Sloan Management Review, MIT Technology Review, the European Commission, the World Economic Forum, PwC, Oliver Wyman, McGraw-Hill, Springer, and more. Our work has received mentions in media such as Bloomberg and Forbes.

Now, how is this linked to the EU-LAC Digital Accelerator? Can you explain the role you envision playing at this meaningful project?

The knowledge that we have already developed in corporate venturing -the collaboration between established companies and innovative startups- may help in the methodologies of these processes. We expect to (i) develop further knowledge via a few white papers, (ii) support some of the engagements between corporations and startups, and (iii) conduct several bootcamps for open innovation and corporate venturing leaders.

So, if you are a corporation either in Europe or Latin America/Caribbean seeking to increase your level of digitalisation by innovating with startups, reach us on LinkedIn. Looking forward to learning from you.

What are the main actions/activities you are working/will work on in the project that you are most excited about?

In this project, funded by the European Commission, it is an absolute pleasure to work jointly with this excellent list of partners including Tecnalia, Wayra, European Business Angel Network (EBAN), European Business and Innovation Centre Network (EBN), Caribbean Export Development, Expertise France, and Inter-American Development Bank. This community is a unique opportunity to learn from each other to achieve a bigger positive impact in society. Looking forward to it!

At the EU-LAC Digital Accelerator, what is the positive impact you hope to generate?

We aim to support European and Latin American/Caribbean corporations in the adoption of emerging technologies by collaborating with startups, a process also called corporate venturing.

What do you think are the biggest challenges to boosting digital cooperation between Europe and Latin America and the Caribbean? And the keys to solve them?

A relevant problem: According to a recent IESE article at Harvard Business Review: although the collaboration between corporations and startups has increased fourfold in the past six years, nearly 70% of these collaborations fail to obtain the desired results. Moreover, corporations are under extra pressure to innovate faster with tighter budgets. An opportunity or resource today may be gone in 30 days. Global market volatility has intensified in past years, according to proxies such as the CBOE Volatility Index. Companies are also struggling to beat more competitors hunting the same top-tier entrepreneurs: the number of firms collaborating with startups has increased.

A research-based method to tackle the challenge: Based on years of research and a network of 500+ chief innovation officers across five continents, the school coined the corporate venturing squad model, which are small groups of corporations joining forces to collaborate with one or more startups and facilitate the shared innovation experience.

Some of the benefits: On the one hand, the model improves the corporate value proposition offered to the entrepreneur, thereby aggregating value (e.g., providing complementary expertise across the value chain). On the other hand, it shares the risk and cost of the proof of concept (or pilots or joint ventures) among the squad’s members, while strengthening the corporate access to startups by leveraging the scouting capabilities of each corporation. In short, a way to strengthen the identification, collaboration, and integration of value in corporate-startup innovations.

Do you have previous experience managing European projects? What is the most rewarding thing about it?

The school has decades of work with competitive projects across the globe with regional, national, and continental governments from Asia, Latin America, and Europe to name a few. On entrepreneurship, the school has been awarded more than 20 competitive projects and grants, where the school seeks to develop and disseminate knowledge to have a long-term positive impact on society.

Some recent examples include InvestHorizon, a project that supported more than 4,000 European deep-tech entrepreneurs, securing that 100 of them raised €500+ million in capital for their ventures. Another instance is DIH4CAT, a consortium that aggregates nine technology, innovation, and knowledge centers to speed up the adoption of emerging technologies by carrying proofs of concepts and pilots in fields such as robotics, supercomputing, photonics, cybersecurity, blockchain, 3D printing, 5G, and artificial intelligence.

To conclude, how would you describe the EU-LAC Digital Accelerator in one sentence?

Supporting European and Latin American/Caribbean corporations to innovate with startups related to emerging technologies.


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