Spain’s innovation hub: Alicante

By Guest Author | Alicante Spain | November 5, 2019

Distrito Digital in Alicante is open for business

Technology, innovation, games, big data, AI, data processing and online sales are just some of the foundations on which Alicante’s Distrito Digital is built. Launched by the Generalitat Valenciana with the intention of setting up an ecosystem based on the digital economy, its objective is to turn the area into the technological epicentre on which many connected companies from all over the world are oriented. This project extends to different spaces and plans to grow in the next two years with the construction of new buildings throughout the entire Valencian territory.

According to data by the publicly-owned Valencian Community Themed Projects Society (SPTCV), 60% of the district’s companies are Finnish, while Spanish companies account for another 30%, and the remaining 10% account for countries that include the US and UK, Brazil and Switzerland.

Distrito Digital aims to use Valencia’s competitive advantages to create a unique environment to harbour technological talent. It hopes to offer a differentiated environment and services, which can help companies develop their full potential, attract talent and foster the exchange of technological and digital knowledge between companies and others involved in a project.

Distrito Digital covers more than 320,000 square metres in Alicante alone. The first hub centres have more than 19,000 square metres, which offer offices and workspaces, co-working areas, catering areas, meeting rooms and classrooms, event rooms, outdoor areas and parking to ensure employee comfort. SPTCV has already planned a space in Alicante’s port with more than 9,000 square meters to grow the technological hub and thus add a new HQ that will offer 500 new job positions. Its sea-facing location is an added attraction.

This digital ecosystem has differentiating characteristics that make it the ‘boutique’ among European technology hubs. The difference is not in the volume of startups, but in the projects generated by installed and adhered companies, the quality and diversity of the ecosystem, and the boost to the digital economy, which is generated through training.  

The academic aspect is also important for the development of the digital sector in Alicante. The Distrito Digital is an opportunity in itself to create an innovative educational fabric, with a global character, where companies and universities benefit from and provide added value in terms of knowledge, research and technological development.

Strategic location

The Distrito Digital’s quality of connections and good climatic conditions are two added attractions of those in the technological hub.

Alicante is connected by land, sea and air, a factor that allows raw materials, products and travellers to enter and leave the territory with ease. More than 40 airlines operate in its airport, which is Spain’s fifth busiest, accommodating a total of 13.7 million passengers annually. The sea is another route that allows for easy entry and exit to Alicante, as does the area’s railway links, especially since the arrival of the high-speed rail service AVE. Therefore, companies are choosing to install their headquarters in the Distrito Digital, since it is a more efficient and economical option than Spain’s two largest cities, Madrid and Barcelona, and then establishing labour or business relations with these two points.

In addition, the railway station is located just 10 minutes from the technology campus. This route will be further enhanced with the materialisation of the Mediterranean Corridor, a project that will benefit the Distrito Digital. And finally, the area is also well connected by road.

Growing companies

Distrito Digital’s aim is to create programmes that help startups to grow and to connect with entrepreneurs, startups, companies, investors and public and private corporations from around the world. Its goal is to drive companies’ growth and innovation towards feasible projects, through models and tools, connecting talent with corporations, investors and companies. 

Distrito Digital will enable European startups to scale up their business, reshaping their business approach and increasing their chances of becoming global companies. Distrito Digital also proposes a new approach to achieving outsized goals without expending a correspondingly outsized amount of resources, by learning how to scale using new methodologies, combined with hands-on support.

Piloting and go-to-market

This phase comprises both the validation of the new scaling actions defined in the scale-up plan through a pilot, and the support in international go-to-market implementation. Distrito Digital will support companies through the pilot validation of the new scaling initiatives with in-person and online sessions, making sure the pilot runs effectively.

Distrito Digital will dedicate its best professionals to run the programme. A qualified team will run the Internationalisation project with each company, led by an internationalisation project leader with a deep knowledge of Latin American markets and internationalisation processes.

A highly specialised team will also deliver the provision of new scaling methodologies, applying the most innovative techniques in favour of the participants. The overall programme will be led by a project leader with an extensive background in management and international trade.

Boost of innovation

Distrito Digital will help to boost innovation by facilitating co-operation between startups and corporations. Co-operation between corporations and startups is a powerful tool for innovation but, due to the huge differences in the ways the two types of companies operate, collaboration is not always easy. Distrito Digital aims to build mutually beneficial partnership through innovation programmes. It offers extensive experience with a very competitive team used to work with corporations and startups.