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Talent, ideas, and networking at the successful EIT Food Founders Day

On June 20th, 2024, the most important entrepreneurship event of EIT Food South, gathered over 190 participants at San Mamés, Bilbao, Spain. The atmosphere was charged with innovation and growth.

21 Jun 2024
EIT Food South

EIT Food Founders Day served as a meeting point for startups, large companies, investment funds, and top-tier experts. It also aligned with the food entrepreneurship strategy of the Basque Government and the Bizkaia Provincial Council.

Begoña Pérez Villareal, Director at EIT Food South, welcomed participants, supporting the acceleration of the agrifood sector and emphasizing the importance of valuable collaborations to foster innovation. Ainara Basurko, Deputy for Infrastructure and Territorial Development at Bizkaia Provincial Council, highlighted the benefits and opportunities that Bizkaia offers for innovation and entrepreneurship in the sector, underscoring the value of public-private collaboration.

As a startup, you are an inventor who loves performing, but as a scaleup you need to change your mindset and become the manager of your business.

- Heiner Lehr, CEO of Faromatics.

The first session covered the intriguing topic of turning a startup into a scaleup. Marta Laorden, Investor at McWin Capital Partners; Heiner Lehr, CEO of Faromatics; and Mathieu Carenzo, Investor and Professor at IESE Business School. emphasized the importance of training and specialising in various fields (legal, languages, etc.) as key factors for sustainable growth and success.

Next, investment became the main topic of the session, moderated by Juan Ignacio Zaffora, Regional Programme Manager at EIT Food. Gerard Valverde, Investor and Partner at Additio Ventures; Jaume Argerich, Family Office Director at ANIOL; and Xana Belastegi, General Partner at Swanlaab AgriFood-Tech Fund, discussed impact investment and how to maximize social and environmental impact while achieving financial returns. "Sustainability is our priority," said Argerich "we don’t invest in defense or plastics, as these go against our commitment".

Several entrepreneurs shared their experiences on the challenges of collaborating with companies. Speakers included Mary Grace Gasco, CEO of SpaceCrop Technologies; Unai Sardón, Innovation Manager at Eroski; Farayde Matta, CRO of Bio2Coat; and Pablo López, CEO of Innogando. They all agreed on the importance of defining a clear roadmap and having patience to achieve sustainable success.

We, the entrepreneurs, need to communicate our needs and be able to do it properly to the corporates.

- Mary Grace Gasco, CEO of SpaceCrop Technologies.

Jose Maria Montiel Varea, Business Project Manager at BEAZ, explained the facilities Bizkaia offers for entrepreneurship. Amparo San José, Regional Business Creation Portfolio Manager at EIT Food, took the floor as well to present EIT Food South's role in the Basque entrepreneurial ecosystem.

Additionally, attendees had the opportunity to hear from Carlos León, Director of Aponiente, who spoke about the origins of the Andalusian restaurant that started "without pretensions, but through a difficult path, has acquired a unique and peculiar vision". León highlighted the relevance of both gastronomy and innovation, stating that their success is based on discovering new techniques.

Learn to recognize and generate opportunities, do this by systematising.

- Elsa Punset, Writer and Communicator.

The event concluded with a closing speech by Elsa Punset, who focused on finding optimism as an entrepreneur in the agrifood sector. She offered tools for emotional management and perseverance, noting that only "66% of people really believe in the use of their business". Punset ended with an inspiring message for all entrepreneurs who are capable of and will create a better world..

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