Innovation in San Sebastián

This past spring we headed to San Sebastian, Spain to collaborate with Fomento de San Sebastián/Donostia Sustapena, the Economic Development Agency for the city. After a couple months, we reconnected to explore the impact of the program, which was designed to support business and public sector leaders make the most of changes happening in technology technologies and the effects on the city, local start-up community and industry.

Fomento San Sebastian, is committed to bolstering its design capacity in support of its regional innovation strategy. As key drivers, together they allow companies and entrepreneurial projects to increase their competitiveness, professionals and students to develop further capabilities, the governance of the local ecosystem to strengthen and also position the city internationally. Our team of facilitators and speakers, Gabriela Triffiletti, Iñaki Escudero and Clara Aparisi spent the week in the Basque country supporting Fomento San Sebastian to realize its vision.

Following up on the completion of the program, here is what Haizea Galarreta Fernández and Xabier Hualde Amunárriz of Fomento de San Sebastián/Donostia Sustapena had to share about the experience.

What were your expectations before the program? How were they met?

We already knew that Hyper Island was a very prestigious school and that it would deliver not only a valuable programme but a great experience. Even though Basque business culture might be more traditional than other metropolis we were ready to let ourselves think outside the box and participate in a few disruptive challenges. It was great to see how the atmosphere of the whole group during those two intense days was always up and ready for more.

What about the program and experience has surprised you?

We would not say surprise, because we have been working together for quite a few months and even if we did not participate in any other Hyper Island programmes before, we spent a lot of time discussing the contents, our needs and appreciations. I would say the surprise came with the funny/quirky methods used to maintain the good spirit of the team and to make it a valuable tool for their enterprises.

What do you or do you feel the participants walk away with and take into their business? What was most valuable in your opinion?

We think that the most valuable thing they got from sharing together this Master Class was the companionship that was created. We are proud of our city, and we want to make it better all together. We intentionally invited very different sectors and people, so they understand other point of views too. They, for sure, went back to the office very motivated, willing to change at least 1% of their environment and create a better personal and productive working atmosphere for their teams and for our ecosystem.

What changes or developments do you anticipate for your city, economy, region, your people?

San Sebastian has a long innovative tradition, but we are increasingly taking steps to be at the top of the Icebergs’ Innovation, launching innovative products and services that are being very well perceived and received by the city. We think that San Sebastian will become a lighthouse regarding innovation in many aspects (some of them are already a reality), and we will increasingly have more international visibility regarding this matter.

Lastly, how did the program align with your vision for change?

The program matches the spirit of the companies perfectly. They are on the good track, but appreciate some guidance and useful tools to replicate them in their business. Being able to be out of our comfort zone, sharing our fears and worries about the future makes us stronger. To work with Hyper Island has been easy despite all the back and forth we had and it is crystal clear that the most important things are the souls behind the projects and investing and putting people in the middle is something that we both do, so we would say we are totally on the same page.