‘Powerful ecosystems make companies thrive. It’s one of our core values,’ says Nestholma CEO Daniel Collado. ‘We focus on helping financial institutions and startups do actual business together, beyond the hype. As an investor and fintech open-innovation programme creator, we have contributed to the creation and development of several startup ecosystems in Europe. We are an ecosystem player and builder.’ The company heard about the Distrito Digital at a key time. It wanted to be closer to financial institutions in southern Europe and it was looking for a location for a second office that would connect it beyond Europe. Alicante ticked all the boxes. As well as being a great place to visit and live, the region is a powerhouse of agro-export businesses, and the tourism industry is huge. The city is very well-connected and a Spanish office can also be a gateway to Latin American markets.
“We have run programmes in 10 different countries using only our Helsinki office. For us, accessibility is more important than local buzz,’ says Collado. Alicante’s airport offers multiple flights to Helsinki and other startup hubs, and it has high speed AVE trains to Madrid.
Colladopoints out that the Distrito Digital is ambitious and open. Its authorities intend to make Alicante a top-notch location for innovation in finance. The financial sector is one of Spain’s strongest, and both Distrito Digital and Nestholma are liaising with those financial institutions to make this a more valuable hub for them. ‘We have organised 26 collaboration programmes for Nordea, OTP Bank, TEB BNP Paribas, Microsoft and Nokia among others, and we are committed to using this experience to make Alicante worthwhile for national and international financial institutions,’ adds Collado.
‘I personally don’t believe in city ecosystems inside Europe. I believe that, in order to be competitive, Europe needs to have a common strategy, and cities should be better or worse locations inside that ecosystem,’ says Collado.‘In our more than 60 investments, we have targeted companies from all over the globe; the best talent can be anywhere. Because of that, a location that is well connected inside the ecosystem, that is focused on adding value to the major players, at a fraction of the living cost of other similar locations, is a good place to be.’