Spain is preparing to push forward with pro-startup legislation, having only in the near past unveiled a abundant and courageous transformation plan with the headline impartial, by 2030, of turning the country into ‘Spain Entrepreneurial Nation’, as the rather clumsy English translation has it.
High minister Pedro Sanchez took a turn on Net Summit’s stage in December to state the introduction of the forthcoming Startup Act — and to trumpet a fresh role, a excessive commissioner, tasked with bringing off a nationwide entrepreneurial economic transformation by working with all the relevant government ministries.
The valuable-brush wishes for the technique are to increase negate in startup investments; attract and retain skills; promote scalability; and inject innovation into the public sector so it could probably perhaps per chance bolster and reinforce Spain’s digital pattern.
The aforementioned Startup Act is the first fragment of dedicated legislation for the sector — and is intended to simplify starting up in Spain, as nicely as bringing in tax concessions and incentives for international investments. So this would perhaps also be something of a milestone.
Chat to local founders and there’s a litany of administrative, tax-essentially essentially based and fundraising pain-points they’ll rapidly point to as frustrations. Wider complications appear more cultural; startups no longer thinking abundant ample, investors lacking the needed stagger for meals for risk, and even — among wider society — some latent suspicion of entrepreneurs. Whereas Spain-essentially essentially based investors are champing at the bit for administrative reform and better stock alternate suggestions. Moving the needle on all that’s the Spanish government’s self-appointed mission for the foreseeable future.
TechCrunch spoke to Francisco Polo, Spain’s excessive commissioner overseeing transport of the entrepreneurial technique, to find the inside monitor on the plan to grow the startup ecosystem and find out which bits entrepreneurs are seemingly to look for in motion first.
“The excessive commissioner for Spain entrepreneurial nation is a fresh physique that’s within the presidency. So for the first time now we fill an institution that, from the presidency, is ready to support coordinate the varied ministries on one single thing: Creating the first national mission. In this case this nation mission has the impartial to turn Spain into the entrepreneurial nation with the ideal social affect in history,” says Polo.
“What we discontinue is that work of coordination with all the ministries. In total now we fill a set of internal wishes. First is what we call impacts — varied units of measures that’s contained in the Spain entrepreneurial nation technique. We additionally work trying to find everyone together on this national mission so we work on varied alliances.
“Finally, we are additionally very centered on helping let the of us know that Spain has made a decision to develop into — by 2030 — this entrepreneurial nation that’s going to dash away no one behind. So that’s our job.”
Scaling up on the shoulders of giants
The southern European nation doesn’t attract the connected stage of startup investment as some of its attain neighbors, including the U.Good ample., France and Germany. Nevertheless in many systems Spain punches above its regional weight — with fundamental cities love Barcelona and Madrid routinely ranked as highly blooming locations for founders, owing to rather low costs and the pull of a Mediterranean everyday life.
Spanish cities’ urban density, excessive ranges of childhood unemployment and a sociable custom that’s eagerly embraced digital chatter makes a stupendous check-mattress for person-facing app-essentially essentially based businesses — one that’s demonstrated disruptive potential over the past decade+, in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis which hit the country difficult.
Local startups which fill gained global attention over this length — for velocity of negate and stage of ambition, at the least — include the likes of Badi, Cabify, Glovo, Jobandtalent, Pink Points, Sherpa.ai, TravelPerk, Typeform and Wallapop, to name about a.
Spain’s left-leaning coalition government is now looking to steal up the startup baton in earnest, to power a broader pro-digital shift in the economic system and manufacturing dash — nevertheless in a technique that’s socially inclusive. The shift shall be according to “an ironclad principle that we dash away no one behind”, acknowledged Sanchez in December.
For this motive the slate of coverage measures Sanchez’s government has distilled as needed to reinforce and grow the ecosystem — following a lengthy length of session with non-public and public stakeholders — pays terminate attention to social affect. Hence the parallel impartial of tackling fairly about a gaps (territorial, gender, socio-economic, generational and heaps others) that could well otherwise be exacerbated by a more single-minded speed to velocity up the size of the digital sector.
“We are a fresh technology of kids in government. I think in our technology we don’t perceive creating a fresh innovation system or a fresh industrial-economic system if we are no longer additionally talking about its social affect,” says Polo. “That’s why at the basis of the mannequin now we fill additionally designed inclusion insurance policies. So all this plot is aimed at closing the gender gap, the territorial gap, the socio-economic gap and the generational gap. So at the reside of the day, by 2030, now we fill created the entrepreneurial nation with the absolute best social affect in history.”
There’s cash on the table too: Spain shall be routing a fraction of the “Next Era EU” coronavirus recovery funding it receives from the pan-EU pot into this “entrepreneurial” push.
“Namely, for 2021, the funds assigned to the varied wishes of the technique — now we fill higher than €1.5 billion for the main measures that we desire to begin setting up. And for the length 2023 it’s over €4.5 billion dedicated to the remainder of the measures. So essentially between 2021 and 2023 we could per chance be setting the basis/foundations of the Spain entrepreneurial nation,” says Polo.
Execution of the technique shall be down to the relevant ministries of presidency — who shall be enacting projects and passing legislation, as wished — nevertheless Polo’s department is there to “e book and accompany” the quite rather a lot of fingers and branches of presidency on that mosey; aka “to support construct things happen” with a startup hat on.
The national technique envisages entrepreneurship/startup innovation as the driving force at the top of a pyramid that sits atop existing sectors of the Spanish economic system — “spearheading the innovative system that we desire to generate”, as Polo puts it. “We usually are now not handiest focusing on innovative entrepreneurship. We are additionally trying to make virtuous cycles between this ecosystem and the staunch driving sectors of the Spanish economic system — that’s why we listed a set of 10 driving sectors that signify above 60% of the GDP. And here’s of most significance.”
The listed sectors where the government wants to listen and foster reinforce — so those connected sectors can leverage gains by closer working with digital innovation are: Industry; Tourism and custom; Mobility; Successfully being; Construction and affords; Vitality and ecological transition; Banking and finance; Digitalization and telecommunications; Agri-meals; and Biotechnology.
“We made up our minds we wished to construct the minimize at some point and we made up our minds that putting together 60% of the GDP in Spain used to be a obvious route of the sectors that shall we be using in inform to velocity up the trade that we desire to look for,” says Polo. “In total what we desire to shift with this mannequin is that the innovative entrepreneurship that has been fairly enclosed in the past begins working with the varied driving sectors that now we fill in the country on yarn of they can support every other solve their varied complications.
“So first, for instance, for investment — what if abundant companies begin investing more and higher than they are really doing? We velocity up additionally that route — into innovative entrepreneurship system. That is going to support terminate that gap… What if startups and scale-united statesin Spain work together with our international companies in inform to attract and retain that skills? That is going to put us as a country in a higher impartial.
“To me the finest instance is about scaling up: Because what’s more healthy than scaling up on the shoulders of giants? Now we fill already a abundant selection of international of world-class companies which can perhaps per chance be in varied markets so what’s more healthy than being ready to scale up with an organization that’s already there, that has the knowledge and that enable you to veteran as a scale-up in a shorter length of time. So there are different virtuous cycles that we are able to generate and that’s why we wished to construct additionally an ideal attraction to the varied driving sectors. Because we desire to let the country know that everyone is known as to construct this a actuality.”
Digital can itself divide, obviously, as has been writ abundant during a worldwide pandemic in which the pattern of young of us excluded from attending school in person can hinge on whether or no longer they fill internet find entry to and computer literacy.
So the principle of entrepreneurial negate being predicated upon social inclusion appears to be like to be love a extraordinarily necessary one — despite the incontrovertible fact that pulling off fundamental industrial transformations which is ready to necessitate a stage of retraining and upskilling in inform to bring workers of all ages alongside the connected route is clearly no longer going to be straightforward.
Nevertheless the 10-year time physique for “Spain Entrepreneurial Nation” appears to be like to be love a recognition that inclusion requires time.
The lengthy-term plan is additionally intended to address an ordinary criticism of Spain’s politics being too rapid-termist, per Polo. “In Spain critically it’s been a in vogue criticism that politics continuously examine in the exiguous term so here’s proof that this government is additionally addressing the rapid-term complications nevertheless additionally is preparing Spain for the future,” he says, adding: “We really mediate that [presenting a long-term vision is] a lawful thing and it’s an solution to that social put a question to.”
The country has additionally — over the final decade or so — gained rather of a reputation for efficiently challenging digital traits over negate societal impacts in Europe’s courts. Resembling, in 2010, when a Spanish citizen challenged Google’s refusal to delist out of date information about him from its index — which led, in 2014, to Europe’s top court docket backing what’s colloquially referred to as the “lawful to be forgotten”.
Uber’s legislation-dodging used to be additionally efficiently challenged by Spanish taxi associations — leading to a 2017 ruling at the absolute best stage in Europe that Uber is a transport carrier (and therefore topic to local urban transport tips; no longer staunch a technology platform as the walk-hailing big had sought to claim).
Anti-Uber (and anti-Cabify) strikes fill, in the intervening time, been a quasi-in vogue (and generally violent) characteristic of Spain’s streets — as the taxi industry has protested at a perceived lack of enforcement of the law against app-essentially essentially based competitors who’re no longer competing rather, as it sees it.
And while gig platforms (even homegrown European ones) tend to try to shrug off such protests as protectionist (and/or “anti-innovation”), they fill oftentimes learned themselves losing challenges to the legality of their fashions — including most only in the near past in the U.Good ample. Supreme Court (which staunch slapped down Uber’s classification of drivers/riders as self employed — meaning it’s liable for a slew of costs for associated advantages).
All of which is to insist that the muscular sense of injustice that segments of Spanish society fill willingly — and even viscerally — demonstrated when they really feel unfair impacts flowing from shiny fresh tech tools need to quiet no longer be brushed apart; rather it appears to be like to be love of us here fill their finger on the pulse of what’s really necessary to them.
That can additionally additionally explain why the government is so eager to construct certain no one in Spain feels left behind as it unboxes a critical packet of startup-friendly insurance policies.
Among a bundle of some 50 reinforce measures, the entrepreneurial technique makes a reference to “comely legislation” and floats the view of sandboxing for testing products publicly (i.e. with out needing to apprehension about regulatory compliance first).
The view of opening up sandboxing is popular with local gig platform Glovo. “I really mediate here’s key; allowing innovation to check products/companies and products with out having to fight by regulatory nightmares to check. This could really power innovation,” co-founder Sacha Michaud tells us. “This is working nicely in financial companies and products nevertheless is also utilized across a abundant selection of tech areas.”
Attracting more investment to Spain and improving stock alternate suggestions in advise that local companies can better compete to attract skills are other key priorities for him.
Michaud says he’s totally supportive of the government’s entrepreneurial technique and the Startup Act, while no longer expecting rapid results on yarn of what he expects shall be a lengthy legislative process.
He’s less gay about the government’s in-train plan to sustain watch over gig platforms, though — arguing that final-mile transport is being unfairly singled out there. This reform, which is being worked on by the Ministry of Labor, has been driven by a selection of simply challenges to platforms’ employment classifications of gig workers in most recent years — including a loss final year for Glovo in Spain’s Supreme Court.
“In Glovo’s case [the government] are namely looking at regulating handiest riders, final-mile transport platforms — but quiet allowing over an estimated 500,000 autonomous workers in logistics, companies and products and installations to continue,” says Michaud, dubbing this “very discriminatory; affecting literally a handful of tech companies and ‘protecting’ the impartial quo of the used IBEX35 Spanish companies”.
Asked about development on the reform of the labor law Polo says handiest that work is continuing. “I don’t fill more transparency on the work they are doing. I fill doubtlessly the connected information that it’s worthwhile to fill gotten and the conversations that now we fill with the varied companies, additionally the gig companies that we sustain an inaugurate dialogue with,” he says.
Nevertheless when pressed on whether reforming regulations to capture yarn of tech-driven adjustments to how of us work is a extraordinarily necessary factor of the wider entrepreneurial technique he additionally emphasizes that the “closing impartial” of the national transformation plan is “to generate more and better jobs”.
“We are continuously inclined to try to foster the companies that generate these better and increasing fresh jobs,” says Polo. “And I’m certain that the varied gig companies that now we fill in Spain — I know that they perceive this closing impartial. They perceive the advantages for the company and for the country of following this route and that they are willing to radically change and evolve as the country is additionally evolving.”
At the time of writing Barcelona is additionally being rocked by boulevard protests over the jailing of rapper, Pablo Hasél, over certain social media postings — including tweets criticising police brutality — judged, by Spanish courts, to fill violated its criminal code around glorifying terrorism.
Spain’s authorized guidelines in this online page fill lengthy been denounced as draconian and disproportionate. Including by Amnesty International — which called Hasél’s imprisonment “an indecent and disproportionate restriction on his freedom of expression”. Nevertheless Polo dismisses the theory that there’s any contradiction in Spain seeking to rebrand itself as a modernizing, pro-entrepreneur nation at the connected time as Spain’s courts are putting of us in reformatory over the contents of their tweets. (Hasél is no longer the handiest artist or citizen to drop gross of this law — which has additionally been infamously induced by social media jokes).
“There’s no opposition of ideas in any appreciate,” Polo argues. “Spain is certainly one of the most tough democracies in the world and that is something that’s no longer us who’re saying it — it’s the international rankings. And now we fill a rule of law. And in this case it’s a extraordinarily obvious case of somebody who went across the limits which can perhaps per chance be established in legislation on yarn of the freedom of speech has limits of the rights of other of us so it’s something that has nothing to discontinue unfortunately with freedom of speech… The motive why Pablo Hasél is in jail is on yarn of he promoted terrorism.”
Pressed further on how “jail time for tweets” could well additionally examine to an international viewers, he reiterates a up to date government observation that they discontinue intend to reform the penal code. “There are very negate things that, recede, we desire to reform. Because times fill superior,” he says, adding: “We are a more veteran country than the one we had been in the 1980s. And there are negate things that we desire to trade in the penal code — nevertheless they fill nothing to discontinue with the most recent events.”
Measures to trade mindsets
On the broader convey of cultural convey — aka: how to trade a national mindset to be more entrepreneurial — Polo expresses self belief in his mission. He says it’s about making certain of us look for the abundant image and their set in the vision of the future you’re presenting to them; so they look for you’re actively working to bring them alongside for the walk.
“This is certainly one of the things that I really feel assured about. Seriously according to my background prior to being in politics. That is helping trade mindsets,” he tells TechCrunch. “In the past I used to be ready to support tonnes of of us perceive that they had been able to doing things that they thought they had been never able to doing. My understanding is that in inform to generate those cultural adjustments you wish to discontinue one thing first: That is generating a vision for the future.
“That’s why we insist so distinguished that by 2030 Spain is going to develop into an entrepreneurial nation with the ideal social affect in history and that now we fill a plan for that… Where we capture the entrepreneurship and we support them spearhead this fresh innovation mannequin. We leverage all the driving sectors of the economic system so we are really building on success; on the staunch success of Spain as an international economic system. And that there’s something for you in that plan. That’s why we are including in the technique at the basis of the technique the inclusion insurance policies in inform to terminate the gender gap, the territorial gap, the socio-economic gap, the generational gap.
“In inform to trade cultures you wish to align of us into working together towards building something that’s higher than themselves and I think that with the Spain entrepreneurial nation technique we made that first step. And here’s why — and here’s a parenthesis — that’s why we are saying the [startup] law is as necessary as having this plot.”
That startup law — due to be presented rapidly in draft (aka as an anteproyecto de ley) for approval by the Council of Ministers, earlier than going to parliament for a distinguished wider debate process (and potential amendments) — is the first fragment of legislation aligned with the wider technique. It additionally appears to be like to be set to be certainly one of its first deliverables.
Even if it’s no longer obvious how lengthy this would perhaps also be earlier than Spain will get its shiny fresh startup law. (The country’s politics has lacked consensus for years; Sanchez’s “progressive coalition” used to be handiest put together after he tried and failed to find a corpulent majority for his Spanish Socialist Workers’ Social gathering (PSOE) twice in a row.)
“That’s something that’s advanced to insist on yarn of there are authorized guidelines which fill a shorter and others which fill a longer length of approval,” says Polo, on the timeframe for passing the legislation. “For us the necessary convey here is that the startup law has a corpulent process — so it has a corpulent settlement on every aspect of the hill so it turns into tough and staunch legislation for the years to attain.”
This “lengthy awaited” legislation which the ecosystem has been calling for for “years”, per Polo, will address a selection of assorted complications — from the first simply “definition” of startup (to replicate differentiation vs other kinds of companies); to measures to support startups retain and attract skills.
“We desire to reform stock alternate suggestions in advise that they develop into a tool in inform to compete internationally for skills,” he says, noting that the view is to enable Spain to compete with regimes already equipped by countries in varied places in Europe, comparable to the U.Good ample., France and Germany.
“Also we desire to reform visas in inform to again retain and attract that skills,” he continues. “The president additionally talked about incentivizing investment and having a certain stage of tax breaks — and we perceive that business angels want more incentives. So now we fill a more ordain and logical system of investment at the pre-seed and seed stage. And quite rather a lot of other actions — it’s the Ministry of Economic system that can reside up with the final text that shall be handed in the Council of Ministers in the coming weeks.”
Polo cautions that the law gained’t instantly fix every gripe of founders and investors in Spain. Clearly it’s going to be a marathon, no longer a sprint.
“That’s why now we fill a plot,” he emphasizes. “I perceive the interest in the startup law nevertheless I continuously insist that as necessary as the startup law is the Spain entrepreneurial nation technique. Because it’s in there where we address the abundant complications that now we fill as a country when it comes to the ecosystem. And in there now we fill pointed out four abundant challenges that now we fill.
“First is investment. We desire to velocity up the velocity of maturity of the investment in Spain… The numbers were growing, year after year, and they examine really lawful. So what we desire to discontinue is to support velocity up those numbers so we are ready to elope sooner and terminate the gap that now we fill between us and our neighbours: In total Germany and France. That they fill 4x or 5x the selection of investment that now we fill in Spain. We really want to be in ten years in a set where Spain is also leading the investment in innovative entrepreneurship in mainland Europe.
“2nd convey: Skills. We know that in inform to make the entrepreneurial nation we desire all the skills that now we fill. So we desire to construct the internal skills nevertheless we additionally want to attract international skills and we desire to retain that skills. So that’s why we had been talking about the varied tools that could per chance be included in the startup law.
“The third convey is scaling up. We in Spain fill different companies that assimilate success to selling. And that’s valuable — it’s totally reputable. Nevertheless what we desire as a country is to fill an increasing percentage of companies in the future that discontinue no longer think about selling as a synonym of success; nevertheless they think about buying other startups around the world. Of growing. Of scaling up. So they started building today the abundant companies that in the future by 2030 they will generate thousands of lawful quality jobs in Spain which is the closing impartial and the bottom line of the technique.
“And the fourth impartial: Turn the political administration into an entrepreneurial administration. Meaning that the political administration, it’s more agile. That we generate a determined benchmark. And that generally the public sector makes the investment that no longer even the riskier of undertaking capital funds can discontinue. Because that’s the role of the public sector; to generate this kind of visions and to put the technique in in inform to discontinue those. So among all the challenges that now we fill in the ecosystem it’s something now we fill put together in the technique — that’s going to addressed no longer handiest with one law nevertheless with 50 varied measures that we included in the Spain entrepreneurial nation technique.”
The wider entrepreneur technique talks about nine priority actions to be developed in the next two years by process of certain projects — which Polo envisages being accelerated in the attain term with the support of EU coronavirus recovery funds.
He highlights about a priority projects: One to make a community to link entrepreneurs and policymakers with the wider ecosystem, and another to join incubators and accelerators to make out a national reinforce community for founders — every of which were inspired by approaches taken in other European countries.
“Among these projects now we fill one — Oficina Nacional de Emprendimiento — which is deeply inspired by La French Tech in France. So we desire to generate a one-stop shop for entrepreneurs, investors and the remainder of the ecosystem to find entry to all of opportunities of collaboration between the central government, areas and CP councils in inform to pink meat up entrepreneurship in their respective areas,” says Polo.
“Now we fill other projects love Renace — which is an acronym for Pink Nacional de Centros de Emprendimiento — and in there we’ve additionally been inspired by the community that Portugal has which can perhaps per chance be doing such exciting things. So what we desire to discontinue is support join the varied incubators and accelerators and undertaking builders that now we fill in Spain. So they’re at the beginning connected and we add more worth — nevertheless with one negate focus: The varied gaps.
“With Renace in negate we desire to support terminate the territorial gap. Because it’s going to be very interesting to be ready to work with engineers in Cáceres for an organization that’s essentially essentially based in Barcelona. Or to work with a bunch of workers of designers from the Basque country for an organization that’s setting up in Malaga. With Renace we are able to support integrate the country and really discuss an entrepreneurial nation and no longer staunch cities. So Spain has the potential to make that. And there are many others complications.”
France alone spends billions every year every on R&D and on negate reinforce for the digital sector. And even with EU funding Spain can’t hope to match the stage of “ecosystem” employ of richer, northern European countries. Nevertheless Polo says the plan is to construct the most of what it has with the sources it could probably perhaps per chance marshal — therefore, with the Renace challenge, it’s about linking up existing incubators/accelerators (and adding “a fresh layer of worth” comparable to by process of public-non-public partnerships).
“In case you find yourself reading the Spain entrepreneurial technique you perceive it’s no longer a billionaire plan of cash that you put on the table in inform to begin building this Spain entrepreneurial nation,” he says. “It’s instead a extraordinarily tough plan in inform to make that vision and putting together the varied pieces that now we fill already received — the varied resources that now we fill as a country to begin working together intelligently so we are able to construct the better of everything that we are able to.”
Polo additionally argues that Spain is already doing nicely on the startup cluster entrance — saying it stands alone with Germany in having higher than one metropolis ranked among the top 10 “most entrepreneurial” in Europe, per such listings. More only in the near past, he says, Spain has risen further up these listicles — as more of its cities fill popped up in the “global competition for innovative entrepreneurship”.
“Meaning that in varied places of Spain there are many cities and areas which fill the starvation to develop into a set that’s helping entrepreneurs to make this kind of economic system. And we are able to find many more,” he suggests, pointing to Renace‘s hoped for worth from a social inclusion attitude.
“With Renace what we desire to discontinue is generate this community and add more worth — present companies and products, find into public-non-public partnership in inform to add the worth of the varied places that now we fill in the country. So let’s insist that an organization in Barcelona can find tonnes of engineers in a metropolis love Cáceres. The company in Barcelona turns into more competitive on yarn of the salaries in Cáceres — while you pay them the finest salary in Cáceres they is also two-thirds of the salary in Barcelona. So the company in Barcelona turns into more competitive. Nevertheless additionally the engineers in the metropolis of Cáceres who desire to discontinue in the residence, who desire to stick to their family or to fill a existence-challenge in Cáceres they can discontinue. So here’s an instance of how we are able to terminate the territorial gap and additionally develop into really integrated startup nation in the corpulent term of nation.”
“The closing impartial of the Spain entrepreneurial nation technique is turning Spain into a country that’s ready to steer obvious of the results of assorted crises. And critically the results of that we noticed in 2008 when the most inclined jobs had been destroyed overnight — and they had been counted by tens of thousands. That critically struck the kids with unemployment charges that had been above 55%. The immigrants and the of us over 50. We don’t desire that to happen again. So there’s been a extraordinarily profound reflection on what wished to happen in Spain for that to trade. And the conclusion used to be that we wished to trade the productive basis of the country,” he continues.
“That’s why we are putting together a plot that’s going to support the innovative entrepreneurship sector spearhead these fresh fashions, this fresh economic mannequin for Spain. That is going to be leveraging the varied driving sectors of the economic system — those ten sectors that we convey in the technique — and that as it could probably perhaps per chance no longer be in a different way in a 21st century technique, and critically a plot designed by a fresh technology of politicians and trying to answer to the ambitions of the fresh generations that’s a plot that’s no longer including the social affect of this phenomenon. So that’s why we are additionally centered on putting together inclusion insurance policies.”
Polo gained’t be drawn into naming any critically promising startups he’s encountered on his travels around Spain — referring instead to the “tonnes of valuable innovative companies” he says he’s certain will soon be disrupting business as standard in Spain and (the government hopes) internationally — from battery charging companies to retail disruptors working on fresh systems to construct clothes. (“Diverse kinds of innovations that folk can’t imagine,” is his pithy shorthand.)
“What we are trying to discontinue whenever now we fill a possibility is to additionally promote the knowledge of these companies — and additionally support Spanish of us and additionally of us in a international country — to know that now we fill everything that we desire in inform to succeed as a nation and develop into that entrepreneurial nation with the ideal social affect in history,” he provides, acknowledging that a abundant segment of his mission is “to thunder the remainder of the world that we are here”.
Spain’s ten-year plan to put startups in the economic driving seat