Executives point out that “it is a necessity” to continue investing in R&D&I

July 7, 2021

ADEA, the Association of Directors and Executives of Aragon, has organised a new ADEA Conference, in collaboration with Kaudal, which has analysed the potential of Aragon in terms of R&D&I and has brought to the table different options for companies to finance technological projects

The Vice-President of the Regional Government of Aragon, Arturo Aliaga, has stressed the need to invest 2% of GDP in R&D&I in order “not to lose competitiveness as a region”.

The Chairman of ADEA, Salvador Arenere, explained that the autonomous community has an ecosystem “that is conducive to putting an increase in investment on the table”, and the CEO of Kaudal, Manuel García-Sañudo, assured that “companies that invest in innovation will ensure that they have a foothold in the world of constant change that we have to face”.

The experts have indicated that it is necessary to extend the existing financing models to all companies in Aragon, as well as to all sectors.

Zaragoza, 7 July 2021.

The conference “Impact of R&D&I on the economy of Aragon: innovative financing models”, which was held this Wednesday by ADEA in collaboration with Kaudal, a company specialising in Technological Patronage, analysed the potential of Aragon in the field of R&D&I, as well as assessing the different mechanisms available to companies to finance technological and social impact projects through patronage, while obtaining a tax return and a solid mechanism to enhance their CSR. The event was held at the Hotel Híberus under strict sanitary measures and could also be followed via streaming.

The event brought together experts in innovation in companies and institutions, and was moderated by Luis Humberto Menéndez, Head of Economics at Heraldo de Aragón.

From the perspective of the academic environment as a fundamental part of R&D&I, ADEA sought to highlight the importance of public-private collaboration to promote the transfer of research to the market and its development within the business environment, as well as the need to attract more private investment to achieve the necessary levels of R&D&I that will enable Spain to become a highly technological and innovative country.

The Chairman of ADEA, Salvador Arenere, and Manuel García-Sañudo, CEO of Kaudal, were responsible for welcoming the attendees.

Firstly, Arenere explored in depth the R&D&I landscape in Aragon. “It is always a good time to organise a conference to encourage financing for research, development and innovation”, he said, reiterating that this conference “aims to discover innovative financing methods that reflect the innovative spirit from a financial perspective that companies need in order to move forward with their projects”. “Investment has increased steadily in recent years, but there is room for improvement, Spain is behind many countries and is in the 18th position in terms of investment in relation to GDP”, he lamented, explaining that in the case of Aragon, “we are at 0.9% of GDP. Our autonomous community has high technological potential and this is evidenced by the presence at the conference of speakers who are a benchmark in the sector, both nationally and internationally. Despite being well short of 2%, there is an ecosystem that is conducive to bringing increased investment to the table”.

For his part, the CEO of Kaudal, Manuel García-Sañudo, began his speech by assuring that investing in technology and development “is a necessity”. “The speed at which the world is evolving does not allow us to remain with the same technology for very long and, just as being the first does not guarantee success, being the last does indeed guarantee the opposite”, he said. “We belong to a technological group of companies and we have seen the need to bring private investment closer to the world of R&D&I, creating new channels for money to reach the companies that are engaged in this innovation, which will enable us to have a foothold in the world of constant change that we have to face”.

They were followed by the Vice-President of the Government of Aragon and Regional Minister for Industry, Competitiveness and Business Development, Arturo Aliaga, who asserted that “there is still a long way to go, it is true, but there is also a lot of hidden innovation and we are concerned that this is not reflected in the statistics. In many cases we have to work with tax relief or help in the recruitment of PhDs”, he explained.

The Regional Minister of Industry explained that Aragon currently spends around €500 million on R&D&I, “but to reach 2% of GDP, we have to make an effort, although it is a necessary ambition so that we do not lose competitiveness as a region, because there are spectacular and innovative projects in all fields”. “We have to see how we can raise funds for these projects, which are exciting if we are able to bring companies from Aragon on board”, he said.

Inaugural conference and round tables.

The conference brought together experts in innovation in companies and institutions, such as César Dopazo, Honorary Professor at the University of Zaragoza, who gave the keynote address at the opening of the session. He made it clear that “any strategic plan that does not bring innovation and private enterprise together is a mistake”. After talking about development, in which he stressed that “it is necessary to focus on a few objectives”, he discussed the knowledge sector, which, in his opinion, “should be treated as a sector of economic activity with deferred returns”. “The strategic plans of the knowledge plan in industry are non-existent and it is necessary to set clear objectives and medium and long term investments”, he said, concluding that “the interaction between the education sector and innovation has room for improvement, and an analysis of the return on investment and the benefits for the country of investing in education should be performed”.

The initial addresses were followed by two specialised round tables. The first round table, under the theme “Innovative companies in Aragon”, featured María López, CEO of BitBrain; Esther Borao, Director of the Technological Institute of Aragon ITAINNOVA; Óscar López, Director of the Health Research Institute of Aragon, and Sergio López, CEO of Grupo Hiberus Tecnología, who chaired the round table. All of them shared their impressions of the professional environment in which they work, their needs, aspirations or “parts” that need to be improved. Sergio López recommended, during his intervention, “to seek the support of the public administrations at the start, just as they supported us when we began with Iritec”. For her part, María López asserted that “entrepreneurship, as well as in schools, is taught through education in the family, allowing children to make mistakes, to learn and to discover the world”. Óscar López, for his part, has advocated “specialisation, rather than being good at everything”, and Esther Borao has proposed the creation of ecosystems, training and the exchange of knowledge to promote innovation. All agreed that it is often difficult to find the necessary talent.

Some of these aspects were also discussed at the second round table on “Innovative financing models”. This panel featured Rosa Planelles, Director of R&D&I Projects at Kaudal, Paloma Cabello, Specialist in Alternative Investment, and Pilar Molinero, Managing Director of the Development Institute of Aragon.

Cabello assured that “there are many opportunities in the private context” and that “companies with innovative projects must have a strategy and know what they want to achieve, but, above all, they must be aware of the instruments available to make it happen”.

The speakers agreed on the “crucial” role of financing in fostering R&D&I in companies and institutions. Planelles assured that “any company that does not innovate dies. Innovation is inherent to business development” and she explained that at Kaudal, “we stem from a group that creates technology, which is why we understand the needs of technology companies”.

Pilar Molinero assured that “there is still a long way to go, but we have the necessary instruments. The opportunity is now and it is the right time to promote technology and R&D&I”.

ADEA has organised this conference in collaboration with Kaudal, a leading company in Technological Patronage specialised in financing the R&D&I ecosystem in Spain through collaborative private investment. This year the company has launched Orbita.k, a programme of calls for proposals designed to attract R&D&I projects and promote them through Technological Patronage.

The event was attended in person by 79 executives, representatives of technology companies and institutions, and close to 200 people followed it virtually.