The Gap In Between closes its first edition with over 1,000 people in attendance
· Social Nest Foundation, the global platform for social and environmental impact investors and entrepreneurs, held this meeting in Valencia yesterday to co-create innovative solutions and explore new trends for changing the world.
· The Barcelona-based startup Bcome was the winner of the Startup Challenge and took away prize-winnings of 10,000 euros.
Valencia, October 26, 2023. The Gap in Between, the meeting for tackling the most pressing social and environmental challenges, drew over 1,000 attendees to its first edition in La Marina of Valencia yesterday with the aim of highlighting the value of collaboration among startups, corporations, investors, government and civil society for creating solutions with a positive impact. Organized by Social Nest Foundation, the global platform for investors and entrepreneurs with social and environmental impact initiatives, The Gap In Between has established itself as a point for meeting up and co-creating in order to mobilize the power of all to change the world.
Margarita Albors, founder and executive president of Social Nest Foundation, made reference to this collaboration during the inauguration of The Gap in Between, where she defined it as "a space that fosters networking, collaboration and inspiration among people who share our passion for a better and more sustainable world. We are confident of all the potential that innovation, entrepreneurship, capital and collaboration hold for building a world that is not just sustainable, but one that is prosperous as well".
Albors also highlighted the potential that Valencia has as an innovative and entrepreneurial city. "Valencia, which will also be the 2024 Green Capital of Europe, is today undoubtedly among the the most vibrant of ecosystems, not to mention the city with the highest number of start-ups per capita in Spain, one that can be an international benchmark for leading new innovative business models for finding global solutions to the challenges facing the planet ". This fact was also mentioned by David Rosa, deputy director of Las Naves, who pointed out that "Valencia’s calling is to take the lead in transforming Europe’s cities into smart cities. But we can't do it alone, collaboration with institutions is crucial to this".
During the inauguration, Social Nest Foundation CEO Marta del Castillo drove home how important collaboration is to solving today's social problems, such as armed conflicts, climate change and inequality. "We at Social Nest Foundation believe all economic actors, from large corporations to entrepreneurs, must be involved in the solutions to the social problems and challenges of the planet, and the best way to do that is by fostering collaboration among those already in the ecosystem and new players in order to create disruptive, high-impact business models. We can prove that impact is good business ".
For his part, EOI director in the Mediterranean area (Escuela Organización Industrial/Industrial Organization School) Fernando Garrido stressed that "The Gap In Between first caught our attention because of its potential for spreading word about the best ideas nurturing the entrepreneurial ecosystem, as well as being a way for companies and organizations to join forces and drive innovation and positive social change".
Bcome, winning startup of the Startup Challenge
During The Gap In Between, the winner of the Startup Challenge was announced, a competition put together to give recognition to the best entrepreneurial project aimed at social and environmental impact. On this occasion, the award went to Bcome, a pioneering startup that applies intelligent methodologies for global sustainability management, which has over 1 million products tracked, measured and evaluated in the market. In honor of this, Bcome is to receive 10,000 euros in prize winnings, as well as the chance to connect with top-tier investors to scale its business.
During the awards ceremony, the startups receiving the awards for the best projects in Climate Action, Social Inclusion, Purposeful Technology and Sustainable Food Systems were also announced. The Climate Action award went to the startup Cocircular, which created its Circular Waste Management service for preventing waste in the construction and other sectors from ending up in landfills. The Social Inclusion award went to Naria, a platform for managing food donations online via quantities coming directly from individuals and companies in any sector that reach social entities in their entirety.
The startup Ailin earned the Tech for Good award. By combining the scientific world with the experience of its medical team, this project offers a service that starts and ends with people in order to prevent diseases and extend life. Lastly, the startup Nat4bio has taken the Sustainable Food Systems award for its complete synthetic solution for improving food preservation without having to resort to chemicals and pollutants.
The Gap in Between also provided an opportunity for project presentations by the startups in the Green X program promoted by Caixa Popular, as well as the startups in the Llamp 3i program promoted by the Department of Innovation of the Generalitat Valenciana.
Business and social impact in the same boat
During the various round tables held over the course of The Gap In Between, it was shown that boosting business and generating a positive impact on society are two fully compatible activities. In this regard, Danone Communities CEO Valérie Mazon stated that "our goal is to bring health to as many people as possible through food," and also stressed that "large companies must be committed to helping out on social problems such as access to clean water, a resource lacking for nearly 2 billion people worldwide."
A recurring theme throughout the event was the relationship between impact entrepreneurs and other types of organizations such as corporations or foundations. One example of this is the work presented by Jesús Hernández Gala, director of Accessibility and Innovation at Fundación ONCE, who stressed the importance of "choosing entrepreneurs who are clear not only about what they want their social impact to be, but also about how to apply the entrepreneurial business model to their goal".
Andrew Winston, founder of Winston EcoEstrategies, noted during his speech that "ESG criteria are now an indisputable part of the financial world. They are a way for governments to rate companies, though we must bear in mind that sustainability is much more than just rating how a business affects its environment." For his part, Zubi Group founder and president Iker Marcaide pointed out that "in order to create companies that both lead their sectors and demonstrate commitment to generating positive impact, the best talent that shares these same goals must be brought in".
Focus and collaborating to generate impact
Another one of the most salient themes at the meeting was the need to create solutions in the areas with the greatest opportunities for impact. This was highlighted by Twiga Girls Foundation president Nyagoy Nyong'o: "With the population growth in the Global South comes a new class of more ethical consumers, thus attracting opportunities for investment, growth and new businesses, such as the green economy. We have amazing opportunities in the South, but we must invest in them while also making sure we are contributing to the SDGs."
Another actor is needed for generating social impact in the entrepreneurial ecosystem, the public sector, which is playing an increasingly decisive role. In this regard, Portugal Inovação Social president Filipe Almeida stated that "our primary challenge is to transform social innovation through public policy since the only way to change the world is through systemic changes that will benefit future generations. To achieve this goal, most EU countries are working together in creating national centers for social innovation".
The Gap In Between is funded by the European Union-Next Generation EU and the Recovery, Transformation and Resilience Plan, and receives support from the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism and the EOI, within the framework of the Spain Up Nation strategy, the Generalitat Valenciana through the Department of Innovation, Industry, Trade and Tourism, and the Valencia City Council, through its center for social and urban innovation, Las Naves.
The meeting also collaborates with partners such as Caixa Popular, Fundación Once, Ashoka, DKV, Repsol, Danone, Ikea, 4YFN, Invest in Valencia, Zubi Group, Woodea, Hands-on Impact, and other representatives of various national and international corporations.