The Valenciaport Foundation joins forces with Startup Valencia to boost the tech and innovation ecosystem

The Valenciaport Foundation (Fundación Valenciaport) has joined the association representing the startup ecosystem of the Valencian Community as a Corporate Partner. After announcing the creation of an incubation and acceleration programme for startups in alliance with Telefónica at the Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona, the Valenciaport Foundation joined Startup Valencia with the aim of promoting and boosting the tech and innovation ecosystem.

The agreement reached between the two entities will promote collaboration with Valencian startups focused on port logistics solutions. The joint venture has the aim of backing disruptive projects, boosting digital transformation and positioning Valencia and its port as a benchmark for efficient, innovative and sustainable management.

According to Antonio Torregrosa, General Director of the Valenciaport Foundation, "this collaboration will allow us to strengthen the ties between the port community and the Valencian entrepreneurial ecosystem, promoting the creation of innovative tech projects that will help increase the competitiveness of the Port of Valencia business cluster and the Valencian economy".

As Juan Luis Hortelano, president of Startup Valencia, explains: "this agreement is great news for the ecosystem of tech and innovative companies in the Valencian Community as it will consolidate the position of the Port of Valencia and its cluster as a hub of port innovation and will offer startups in the region an infrastructure from which to work on innovative solutions for the sector".

Both organisations share the objective of positioning the Valencian Community as a leading international tech hub, which facilitates the creation of synergies between Startup Valencia and its members and the Valenciaport Foundation.



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9 Valencian startups that will stand out in the year of the European Capital of Smart Tourism

Barely a month has passed in 2022 and we already have another new unicorn in the national startup ecosystem to commend: Travelperk. The announcement of a 101€ million investment raised its valuation past the 1€ billion mark and provided a ray of hope to the travel tech startup sector. 

The conclusions drawn from FITUR, the International Tourism Fair held annually in Madrid, suggest 2022 is seen almost unanimously in the tourism sector as a major turning point and, as far as Valencia is concerned, an even greater opportunity given its status as the European Capital of Smart Tourism for this year. 

What does this nomination mean for the city, its citizens and its corporate network? Our team at Startup Valencia gained valuable insight into the informative meeting hosted by the Levante-EMV newspaper, in which different key figures from the sector laid out the main foundations of smart tourism: sustainability, digitalisation, excitement. 

Julio Monreal, Director of Institutional Relations at Levante-EMV, moderated a roundtable discussion between Emiliano García (Councillor for Tourism and Internationalisation), Antoni Bernabé (Director of Visit Valencia), Enrique Bigne (Professor of Marketing and Market Research at the UV), Ana Merelo (Valencia Premium), Carlos Boga (president of the Valencia Convention Bureau and director of the Hotel Las Arenas) and María José Viñals (professor at the UPV), whose contributions are in tune with the solutions of the Valencian travel tech startups.


Sustainability. Digitalisation. Experience 

We all become tourists at some point throughout the year (and if possible, more than once!). Whether it's a weekend experience, a short getaway or a long holiday, as soon as we see the chance we pack our suitcases and change destination. 

The traveller's customer journey begins with their search for a destination, hence the importance of being well-positioned for the different buyer personas (business tourism, holiday tourism, cultural tourism...). Next is the 'wow effect' of the trip itself: the user experience. Finally, it ends upon their return with word of mouth and the recommendation of the experience to their network of contacts. 

traveltech startups


Throughout this journey, experts agree that there will be three key factors in all decision-making: 

1) Sustainability: Event organisers are already interested in the sustainability plans for buildings, the carbon footprint their activity will leave behind, the issues related to the accessibility or mobility of the city and its metropolitan area, etc. when choosing between one place or another for their event. Even 'ordinary' tourists from countries with a high level of environmental consciousness are aware of these factors when choosing a destination, according to those attending the talk at Club Diario Levante. 

The World Tourism Organisation itself, a body of the United Nations, highlights the opportunity for developing countries to benefit particularly from sustainable tourism. 

  • ClimateTrade is one of the startups that help companies in the tourism sector to reduce their carbon footprint: the tech company connects corporations that need to offset their carbon emissions with a large number of environmental projects. 

2) Digitalisation: Technology must facilitate certain processes that tourists carry out throughout their customer journey, improving the experience without breaking the essence of travel. For example, immersive reality (VR/AR) can help us 'set foot' in our destination before even arriving. Also, certain planning procedures can be simplified via a specialised marketplace. This involves unifying everything related to online bookings, admissions and digital tickets, transport, payments... And, of course, the collection of big data for its analysis and treatment, resulting in better decision-making. 

AR Vision, Play&go experience and Ydigital are just some of the innovative Valencian companies that offer solutions aimed at digitising the tourism sector, among other sectors:

  • AR Vision offers fully custom-made Virtual, Augmented and Mixed Reality solutions, creating a unique and unforgettable user experience.
  • Play&go experience is a company that creates gamified digital experiences that connect the physical and digital worlds.
  • Ydigital generates experiences for customers and visitors of its establishments, towns and regions, through digitalisation and technology. It is committed to rural, efficient, high-quality, and mass tourism.

3) Experience: The secret ingredient of all these recipes is the ability to excite, since tourism is a form of satisfaction, of pleasure, a way of making people happy. Achieving the so-called 'wow effect' in the experience will multiply its return, either through word of mouth (virilisation), second and third visits (recurrence) or even the settling of travellers in the visited destination for a longer period of time (adoption). 

These are some of the Valencian startups in the travel tech sector with experience-oriented solutions:

  • GuruWalk is an international community of free tours that connects travellers with guides all around the world. Its goal is for everyone to be able to enjoy this type of tour anywhere in the world.
  • Boatjump has created an online boat rental portal that allows any boat enthusiast to be able to rent them in a simple way and at the best possible price.
  • Honimunn is an online travel agency specialising in honeymoons. Merging all the advantages of online travel agencies with the personalisation and service of physical agencies, Honimunn is the travel agency for the digital generation.
  • Howlanders is a tour booking portal specialising in Latin America. They work with local operators and offer nature and adventure tours that can be easily booked by the user.
  • GrowPro Experience creates unique study and work experiences in international destinations such as Australia, Canada, New Zealand and Spain. It advises students looking to live abroad while enhancing their education and opening up new horizons. 

This new prospect emerging as one of the driving forces of the Valencian economy must be made a reality as soon as possible, leveraging the growth generated by Covid-19.

As entrepreneurs, we have the mission to incorporate these elements into our solutions. As citizens, we must understand the opportunity presented to us by being an attractive destination based on these values. 

Tourism, from now on, will either take the smart route, or not.



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Startup Valencia consolidates its position, growing 61% in the last year

Startup Valencia has consolidated its position in 2021 as a benchmark for the innovative and technological entrepreneurship ecosystem of the Valencian Community. The growth experienced over the past year has been exponential, resulting in an increase from 161 to 260 members. The actions aimed at turning the region into a powerful tech hub attracted close to a hundred new members who wish to contribute to making this possible. The number of partners working with Startup Valencia has also risen from 11 to 23.

As Juan Luis Hortelano, president of Startup Valencia, explains: "the association is the most important body representing the Valencian entrepreneurial ecosystem, and throughout 2021 it kept emerging, positioning itself as the point of reference for entrepreneurs looking to make a niche for themselves in a friendly, healthy and dynamic environment".


Startup Valencia consolidates its position

This growth has also been reflected in the number of entities registered in the Valencian Community Startup Observatory drawn up by Startup Valencia, whose report was presented at the Oceanográfico during the fourth edition of the Valencia Digital Summit last December. According to the data from this study, the number of startups in the region stands at 1012, a 15% increase compared to 2020, and more than 50% of them operate in the fields of Artificial Intelligence, Big Data, IoT and Cloud Computing. In terms of employment data, over 30% of startups employ more than 10 qualified people in their team and 57% of startups have increased their workforce in 2021. In terms of female entrepreneurship, 39% of startups have at least one female founder in the team. Another noteworthy fact is that 76% of startups are pursuing triple impact (social, environmental, and financial).

In other words, Hortelano points out that "almost five years after its foundation, Startup Valencia keeps working to reach its main goal: to represent, strengthen, and give visibility to the entrepreneurial ecosystem of the Valencian Community while promoting entrepreneurship, the connection to scientific and university talent and the creation of a suitable framework for digital project scaling".


Startup Valencia consolidates its position with the Valencia Digital Summit

Furthermore, Startup Valencia has demonstrated throughout 2021 its ability to mobilise and arouse the interest of the entrepreneurial ecosystem with its activities. The Valencia Digital Summit attracted more than 10700 attendees, many of which took part virtually via streaming platforms.

As for Valencia Digital Summit 2022, which will mark the fifth edition of the tech event organised by Startup Valencia, the association expects to increase the number of attendees and also increase the percentage of international participation.



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Working together
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Valencian LegalTech startups ready for the boom of the sector

The use and application of technology and software in the legal environment, also known as LegalTech, will not grab as many news headlines as the case of Fintech or Smart Cities, to mention two of the most active fields in terms of media coverage and attention. Valencian LegalTech startups are ready for the boom of the sector. 

However, there are numerous indications that point to the consolidation of this segment of the market and the huge opportunities available for startups to operate in it.


Valencian LegalTech startups

For that reason, here at Startup Valencia, we have gathered together this local selection of LegalTech startups that are driving the digital revolution and innovation in a sector strengthened by large leading law firms. These include Aktion Legal Partners, DWF-RCD or Metricson, in addition to providers of legal services such as Orts Consultores and Innova.Legal who provide legal solutions of a high added value to the Valencian entrepreneurial and technological ecosystem.


The digitalisation of service is the starting point: Declarando, TuGesto, Adera LegalTech and Gromi

At this stage of the century, interacting with a digital interface may be familiar and we may associate what is ‘truly innovative’ with terms like blockchain or smart, to give an example. 

The digital revolution is hitting us at breakneck speed and, what was new a decade ago, let's use Facebook as the social network of the time, now struggles to attract the younger generations.

Digital transformation is a process which encompasses both companies and consumers who end up adopting the solutions that are poured onto the market, and which are constantly evolving.

In the context of LegalTech, as a first level of digitalisation, we can establish the transformation of the traditional way in which legal services are provided and consumed. This is the case with Valencian startups Declarando, TuGesto and Adera LegalTech, which have been able to take advantage of IT capabilities to automate repetitive manual processes (sending invoices, settlements, tax formalities...) and, providing a better user experience to solve the day-to-day problems, capture a customer base with which to develop their business, also providing traditional consultancy services.


Valencian LegalTech startups

The demand for innovative solutions in the LegalTech field is ever-increasing. “Without a doubt, we are experiencing a boom in demand, especially in Valencia, which almost always encompasses the legal area. It is extremely important for us to get moving on the digitalisation of processes and explore new solutions that are in demand. If we don’t, there will continue to be friction for talent and international investment” confirms Andrés Nieto, founder and Chief Growth Officer at Gromi, a Valencian startup which helps international companies and entrepreneurs to set up and grow their businesses in Spain.

Perhaps some people may think this sounds simple, but it is a growing market as described by the Financial Times in its article ‘The Battle to Win at Legal Tech’. “Suddenly, these small software companies for law firms and professionals are competing with large law firms who, until now, dominated consultancy services”, according to the article.

Valencian LegalTech startups


It is these “big opportunities that are still there to be taken in Saas B2B” that Enrique Penichet (Draper B1) was referring to when he spoke to us about sectors that currently take precedence for venture capital funds to invest in.


New business models as a test of maturity: Bounsel and Query Layer

If digitalising an existing service is the first layer of transformation, the emergence of products that don’t have an offline equivalent is the utlimate litmus test of a technology vertical.

These startups are the ones that tear up the rules of the game, in which large sums of money are invested, they are acquired by players with more muscle, and end up being the protagonists of well-known sales or being floated on the stock exchange. 

These are all signs that have already been produced in the LegalTech segment. For example, the case of Clio, the latest unicorn of the Canadian entrepreneurial ecosystem, listed on the Nasdaq, DocuSign, or looking more towards neighbouring ecosystems, the Barcelona based Signaturit.

Although still in another division, more consistent with their investment and years of existence, it is the same discipline in which Valencian LegalTech startups Bounsel and Query Layer compete. Purely digital solutions, with a high technological component and obsession with continuously polishing the user experience from the product.

The numbers back it up, with a 2019 in which it only took 9 months to break the 2018 record for investment, exceeding the 1.2 billion dollars invested in LegalTech companies and which, according to Forbes, can no longer be considered as fintech's awkward younger sibling, but is now a lucrative market of its own.

Specifically Krzysztof Szypillo, co-founder of Query Layer, (sustainable and scalable management of customers’ personal data) recently told Startup Valencia  how our ecosystem has become “one of the main European destinations for digital nomads or simply professionals who, during the pandemic, have wanted to swap the major cities like London or Paris for a city that can offer them a better quality of life”

Attracting talent, opportunities to develop that talent and capital to expand it, a combination that makes startups successful, especially if the wind direction of the market is favourable as in the LegalTech sector. With the aim of promoting the development of the Valencian LegalTech ecosystem to make the sector more competitive as a leading technology hub, here at Startup Valencia, we have created the LegalTech Hub.



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Working together
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Spain Startup Scene: Unicorns, Hubs and Challenges

Spain is a nation of hubs. Unlike other places in Europe where the capital city monopolizes the entrepreneurial ecosystem, with at most a second city complementing it, Barcelona and Madrid have been in the top 10 of European digital entrepreneurship for years, with Valencia consolidating its status as a third national ecosystem, and Bilbao and Malaga seeing more and more achievements. Know more about the Spain startup scene.

This diversity, analyzed in different media and considered unanimously positive, replicates to a degree the evolution of the United States, the birthplace of the startup - a place where Silicon Valley, and by extension California, have played the role of lord and master for decades, but where alternative poles of innovation such as New York, Denver or more recently Miami, whose model will be analyzed at Valencia Digital Summit 2021 that Valencia hosts in December, have also gradually emerged.


The startup ecosystem in Spain. Challenges and particularities

To understand the situation in Spain, a minimal assignment of roles is necessary. Although Madrid (1,235) and Barcelona (1,197) show a similar number of startups according to the latest MWC report on the ecosystem (2019), the former is also defined by a majority presence of investment funds and by a strong corporate backing: 21 of the 35 companies listed on the Ibex are registered there. Barcelona, on the other hand, boasts a disruptive tradition that started with the 22@, a district centred on ICT since the start of this century.

Regarding the type of proposal, if Madrid is synonymous above all with B2B and Barcelona stands out in terms of B2C, then Bilbao, and by extension the Basque Country, is an area specialized in Industry 4.0 - a niche important enough to create another pole of attraction well backed by local capital and a more favourable provincial fiscal regime.

The Valencian Community is also highly worth mentioning, featuring specialized accelerators such as GoHub, Innsomnia, Social Nest or KM Zero, those in expansion such as Lanzadera or Demium, pioneers such as Draper B1 (the old Bbooster, the first accelerator in Spain) or Plug and Play (with its European backoffice established in Valencia); in addition to leading entrepreneurs with consolidated experience (Iker Marcaide, Iñaki Berenguer) and promising hopefuls (Jeff, Zeleros, Voicemod, Streamloots, Zeus, Sales Layer); alongside prestigious academic institutions (UPV, UV, EDEM, UA, UJI) and various organizations and events that serve as catalysts as Valencia Digital Summit.

Spain startup

Finally, Malaga is carving out a unique path where public-private collaborations converge (see the Malaga TechParkparadigm), recent multinational arrivals (Google and Vodafone) and several resounding triumphs (Freepik).


Factors that drive an entrepreneurial culture

Is there a magic formula for creating a winning ecosystem from scratch? The assets that score points in this increasingly global competition are well known. Infrastructures, universities, taxation, financial aid and labour legislation form a package of essentials, to which must be added intangibles such as quality of life, climate and the tolerant and dynamic character of the city at stake. Above any other factor, however, is the talent-investment double act. Michael Bloomberg has put it this way on more than one occasion: "Talent attracts capital faster than capital attracts talent." Bottom line: where there are good ideas and even better executions, a hub is possible anywhere.

Officially, Spain can count its unicorns on the fingers of one hand: Cabify (Madrid), Glovo and Wallbox (Barcelona), Flywire (Valencia). Soon, companies such as Typeform, Jobandtalent or Wallapop may round out this list. According to The Venture City, the fund led by Laura González-Estéfani, except in Estonia and Portugal, the Spanish ratio of investment per capita / unicorns generated is unparalleled anywhere in Europe.

Despite the liquidity differential with other neighbouring countries, the funds are showing their ambition and the deals made are becoming more and more notable. So far in 2021, disbursement in Spain exceeds 2,170 million euros over 201 operations, among which Glovo (450 million), Idealista (425), Wallapop (157) and Travelperk (132) stand out. This data contrasts with the summary of 2020, where the pandemic marked a downward revision of previous years (1,106 million adding national and foreign funds and 338 operations).

What is missing? Perhaps a more decisive participation from the large Spanish corporations in terms of shaping the ecosystem, in line with the path followed by Banco Sabadell or Telefónica. Also, it should be noted that the financial sector counts four Spanish entities among the world's top 100 but does not seem prepared to take the plunge, in the manner one might hope, in support of the new economy.

Juan Luis Hortelano, president of Startup Valencia, paints a panorama of his city which allows us to convincingly describe the milestones that any hub must reach to be included in the big leagues.

“Ten years ago the first international accelerators arrived in Valencia . This was where Plug and Play made its first European foray and where its headquarters for the old continent can still be found. This represented a remarkable turning point - it was an entity from Silicon Valley that placed Valencia on the radar of business angels and venture capital, encouraged startups in Madrid to move here and seduced digital talent."


Indicators of an expanding entrepreneurial ecosystem

Between 2011 and 2021 the emergence has been more than evident. As previously mentioned, there is a very active group of 20 accelerators / incubators in the region. It is another of the ingredients of a virtuous circle, which, according to Hortelano, also comprises “the balance that Valencia provides between the cost of living [housing is 20-25% cheaper than in Madrid and Barcelona] and the well-being associated with the sea and the mountains and 300 days of sunshine a year”.

Maturity really comes, however, when the exit is announced - that is, the multimillion dollar sale of a startup to third parties. Here, the stories of Marcaide and Flywire (in the past Peertransfer) really stand out . “We need these cases to multiply, as in Barcelona and Madrid, where there are already second and third generations of entrepreneurs, of people who invest the profits of their first adventure in a new project - thus the ecosystem is self-sustaining. As a consequence of this progression and despite the fact that there is still work to be done, the Valencian Community currently has more than 1.000 startups”.


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Because the entrepreneurial attitude of taking risks to achieve a vision, wanting to solve problems, share learning, embrace uncertainty and pave the way for those who follow is without a doubt the differentiating element in this special recipe. The secret sauce that nobody has been able to replicate.

A complex interplay of tangibles (capital, companies, infrastructure, universities) and intangibles (networking, entrepreneurial attitude, luck), complicated even further due to the impact of Covid-19 on the world economy. Some of the effects of the pandemic favour diversity: the best scenario in order to stand out is one that favours teleworking and the dilution (or partial dilution) of the office concept. In this way, the predominance of classic hubs no longer seems so clear-cut; emerging formats have an opportunity. At the same time, this democratizing phenomenon unleashes an unprecedented drive among startups' human resources departments. Any initiative with traction gives off the magnetism necessary to tempt the best programmers and managers in the world, wherever they are.

It is at this crossroads that Hortelano's words make sense (Mediterranean well-being versus the coldness of the north, among other elements), even if there are a few unresolved issues that the Central Government's Startup Law will partially address. What perhaps will take more time is the transformation of a culture that still shows aversion to contingency (an indication: the Anglo-Saxon term venture capital is translated as risk capital in Spanish) and that is just waiting for more unicorns to land and more Exits to materialize, in the hopes that the entrepreneurs themselves will lead this new wave of employment and wealth.