Crecer+: We Have Been Creating a Window of Opportunity for Entrepreneurial Investment Projects

This article was originally published by Crecer+
“The investment culture has improved; there is greater sensitivity, but there is still a long way to go”, says Nagore Ardanza, manager of the Crecer+ platform which, since Orkestra – The Basque Institute of Competitiveness created it in 2010, has evolved and adapted its network model to become an instrument that covers all the funding of the entrepreneurial environment in the Basque Country.
In these nine years, entrepreneurship has become more professional and has also found its way into the universities, where there are now specific programmes leading to a younger profile of entrepreneurs. “The investor’s profile has not changed that much”,  says Nagore Ardanza, although she recognises that there is also greater professionalisation in this area. Thus, the manager of Crecer+, gives us more details about the changes that have occurred and are taking place in the Basque entrepreneurial ecosystem.
How has entrepreneurship changed since Crecer+ was launched?
The type of projects may not have changed much, but it is in their professionalisation that an evolution has been more evident. Entrepreneurs know more about financing, about how to build financing rounds; they know more about the actors involved in the ecosystem; it is an environment that has matured during this time.
And from the point of view of investment, has there been an evolution?
Yes, more and more professional investor structures are being created. Public institutions are making a great effort to attract investment in entrepreneurship and in the professionalisation of entrepreneurs; on the other hand, the creation of professional investment funds has given rise to the professionalisation of investors. The fact that public institutions are attracting international accelerators also helps the ecosystem to become more professional. But there is a long way to go in terms of building a financial sector for startup financing and attracting startups from other places to the Basque Country.
How do you experience this evolution in Crecer+?
The professionalisation of investment has made some of our investors opt for other forms of investment in entrepreneurship that is more suited to their needs; business  angels  have limited assets for this purpose, so they invest in one, two or three operations and remain on standby until they see what happens with their investments and this leads us to be constantly looking for new investors for the network. This situation has led to an evolution in Crecer+ which, apart from being an investment network, has currently become an instrument that covers all the entrepreneurial funding environment.
An instrument that covers the funding environment, how is this achieved?
For four years now we have seen an increasing emergence of accelerators, other funds, and new resources startups could turn to. In this regard, what we have done is become a meeting point, where to go so that startup funding can be developed in the Crecer+ environment. Therefore, we have formed alliances with this entire network and created a window of opportunity for entrepreneurial investment projects. Likewise, we have been generating awareness among people about the fact that entrepreneurship exists and that investing in it is a good thing to generate economic activity and territorial development.
What results have we obtained?
The truth is that the alliances we are forging are very positive and strategic. As a matter of fact, the last Crecer+ forum was organised in collaboration with CEBEK for the third consecutive year. This is a space that is already being consolidated and where CEBEK actively participates in the search for new profiles that may have an investing spirit among its members. The next forum we will be held in June or July and will be done in collaboration with the Mondragón Corporation; this is a meeting we are holding again, which shows that there is some concern on the part of large corporations to be with startups and to know them.
We are aware that the entrepreneurial ecosystem is growing and is bearing fruit, both from the point of view of entrepreneurs and that of investors and companies that may begin to be interested in seeing innovation from another standpoint, not from its internal R&D, but as part of open innovation policies; startups support companies in developing their ambidexterity by encouraging them to explore outside the core of their business.

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