South Summit: Spain is emerging as the vanguard of the 'startups' in Europe

South Summit has inaugurated its tenth edition in Madrid at the hands of prominent speakers such as the former president of Inditex, Pablo Isla, the president of Telefónica, José María Álvarez-Pallete and the former vice president of the United States, Al Gore, among others.

South Summit: Spain is emerging as the vanguard of the 'startups' in Europe

South Summit has inaugurated its tenth edition in Madrid at the hands of prominent speakers such as the former president of Inditex, Pablo Isla, the president of Telefónica, José María Álvarez-Pallete and the former vice president of the United States, Al Gore, among others. The event has hosted talks on the energy transition, digitization and the new possibilities of the internet, such as the metaverse.

The president and founder of South Summit, María Benjumea, began the current edition highlighting the progress achieved in recent years, going from being a showcase of limited scope to one of the main focuses of innovation and international entrepreneurship: «From South Summit we will continue with initiatives that guarantee the future of the next generations

, where sustainability and digitization will be the cornerstone« said Benjumea.

Another of those in charge of opening the event was the Mayor of Madrid, José Luis Martínez-Almeida, who stressed the importance of South Summit to put Madrid at the center of the map in terms of innovation and business development emerging. For the mayor, Madrid is a city capable of promoting talent and opportunities and he endorsed the motto of the event: 'decoding complexity' (decoding complexity) to apply it to public representatives and his obligation to make it easier for everyone who has a idea can develop it in the capital.

During the opening day, the European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education, Youth and Sports of the European Commission, Mariya Gabriel, intervened to highlight the potential of Europe to lead in the field of 'startups'.

«The European Community has made great progress in terms of innovation and development of startups, especially in 2021. Compared to last year, investment in venture capital funds has multiplied by ten and European startups have already reached the Americans in investment» the curator explained.

Gabriel emphasized the commission's vision of taking advantage of the new wave of profound technological changes in recent years thanks to European competitiveness. Along these lines, he pointed out some of the institution's main focuses of action, such as developing a pan-European technological ecosystem capable of facing global challenges such as energy independence and ways of understanding transport, as well as attracting entrepreneurial talent to Europe.

To end the opening, the Vice President and Minister of Economic Affairs, Nadia Calviño, defended the Spanish post-pandemic recovery plan, "the most ambitious in Europe" in her words. «This year will be crucial in terms of innovation and development, as Spain is on its way to becoming one of the main markets for startups. We are carrying out a package of reforms that go hand in hand with the largest investment in the country's history," said the vice president

Some of the most outstanding guests of this edition, such as Al Gore, Pablo Isla and Pallete had the opportunity to share their experience and vision about some of the challenges facing the global economy in a scenario marked by energy dependence and the scarcity of raw materials.

During his interview, Pablo Isla explained the importance of innovation in the business world and warned not to fall into conformity or be afraid of change, even when everything works. For the businessman, education is essential to promote a business culture, an aspect that he considered "far away" in reference to Spanish education. "We still have a long way to go," said Isla. She also took the opportunity to defend the role of large companies in their commitment to reduce the environmental impact of their activity, beyond the competitive advantage that it can give them: "It is what needs to be done," he stressed.

Al Gore focused his speech on the challenge of sustainability and the conditions to reduce fossil emissions by 50% by 2030. In reference to the invasion of Ukraine, the former American vice president warned that it cannot be an excuse to deny commitments with decarbonization. "Investing in renewable energy means investing in independence and freedom," Gore said after pointing out that energy dependence on Russia is one more reason to accelerate the transformation and prevent the Kremlin from taking advantage of this advantage to continue with its military deployment.

The lowering of clean energy such as wind and solar energy, together with the development of green hydrogen, are reasons for optimism for the former vice president. “We already have the solutions. Now is the time to invest," Gore said.

The irruption of the metaverse was another of the axes of the conference and among the speakers, Álvarez-Pallete commented on the implications of advancing from internet 2.0 to the new possibilities offered by the 'internet of everything' (3.0). The changes that the metaverse will entail imply a risk for the president of Telefónica, since many jobs will be destroyed to make way for new ones and the challenge will consist of "managing the transition and not leaving anyone behind" according to Álvarez-Pallete.

“None of this can exist without the super connectivity provided by 5G and fiber networks, and with key technologies such as Edge Computing, the cloud and, of course, cybersecurity, essential for the new digital world”, stated the president of Telefónica in reference to the new telecommunications network that the company is deploying in Spain.

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