Basque Open Industry will show Europe its industrial and technological ecosystem at the European SME Week from 13 to 17 November at the BEC

2023 September 27
  • Under the slogan ‘Let's meet in Innovation Land’, the week will open on the 13th and 14th with Basque Open Industry, which takes up the baton of Basque Industry 4.0 and will bring together public, private and business agents
  • Minister Arantxa Tapia today presented this event that puts the Basque Country at the centre of industrial innovation in Europe
  • In the exhibition area, in addition to other offices of the external network, there will be a Ukraine stand where business opportunities will be offered to Basque companies around the ‘Rebuild Ukraine’ reconstruction programme supported by the European Union

The Basque Country will be the focus of the European industrial sector in mid-November. The Bilbao Exhibition Centre (BEC) will host the 2023 European SME Week, whose agenda includes the SME Assembly, the annual meeting of the Europe Enterprise Network (EEN) and Basque Open Industry, an event that will serve to show the rest of the continent a representation of the Basque industrial and technological ecosystem. The motto of the event is ‘Let's meet in Innovation Land’.

“The European Commission has named the Basque Country as a territory of ‘high innovation’, located among the first level countries, in as much as our innovative activity is 10% higher than the average of the European Union, and in the State, we are well above the average at more than 23%,” said Arantxa Tapia, Minister of Economic Development, Sustainability and Environment, during the presentation of the event this morning. “To reach those levels of innovation, our industry is mostly sustained through SMEs, which are very internationalised and have managed to carve out a niche; sometimes accompanying some of our large companies and at other times looking for their own way as ‘hidden champions.’”

The Minister presented the activities of the European SME Week, which will begin on Monday 13 November with Basque Open Industry, a two-day event organised by the SPRI Group and which inherits the dynamics of the successful Basque Industry 4.0, held before the pandemic. On this occasion, it will also be aimed at demonstrating to European representatives the capabilities of the Basque technological ecosystem that service industry.

This event is a space to visualise the reality of a transition towards a more digital, greener and more inclusive Basque Country. It will be a kind of live observatory of the latest trends in advanced manufacturing and emerging applications of the Basque smart industry. The Basque Country has stepped on the innovation accelerator, in fact, it has risen 21 places in the European ranking. “Our will is to continue working to place ourselves in the top category as leaders,” said the Minister, who believes that “we can be very proud as a country of the effort made, making the Basque Country one of the best places in the EU to innovate.”

Talent, internationalisation and energy-environmental and technological-digital transitions

The program includes conferences, round tables and practical workshops, with a structure in three blocks related, on the one hand, to talent, on the other to trends for smart industry and, in addition, energy-environmental and technological-digital transitions. It will also be an opportunity for Basque SMEs to interact between different sectors and with agents related to innovation, internationalisation and entrepreneurship.

On the first day, after a presentation by the minister Arantxa Tapia, the main conference will be led by a person representing the United States Department of Energy and a subsequent round table on the Basque industrial ecosystem from an international point of view.

In addition, the Basque Trade & Investment Agency will focus on the importance of talent in organisations in its multiple aspects, the need to promote professional vocations linked to industry with the support of Confebask and the Vice-Ministry of Universities, the capacity for professional performance in international environments and the need to deploy public-private policies to attract talent.

In the afternoon, you will be able to learn about some success stories of the BIND 4.0 program, which has accelerated almost 200 startups thanks to the connection with other Basque companies of different sizes and industrial sectors.

On Tuesday, 14 November it will focus on new trends in the smart industry, with two star topics such as AI - from the Basque Artificial Intelligent Centre (BAIC) and Industrial Cybersecurity. The weight of the Basque technology centres, around the Basque Research & Technology Alliance (BRTA), will be felt with several talks on digitisation and green industry. The BRTA alliance will attend the Basque Open Industry with four research agendas. The objective of these agendas is to address the challenges to society and companies in each area by defining the research and technology development priorities that respond to them in areas such as Smart Industry, Personalised Health, Healthy Eating and Energy Transition.

Several success stories within the Basque Digital Innovation Hub (BDIH) related to additive manufacturing, advanced materials, robotics, smart machines and digital health, among others, will also be explained in the afternoon.

The space dedicated to the two transitions of energy-environment and technology-digital will discuss the Basque microelectronics strategy (with the Basque Microelectronics Hub), opportunities in the field of energy (moderated by the Energy Cluster), the circular economy (with talks led by the public environmental management company, Ihobe) and internationalisation.

Exhibition and stands at the BEC: ‘Rebuild Ukraine’

In addition to the talks, there will be an exhibition area at the Basque Open Industry (BOI), as an example of the capacities of some representative companies of the Basque SME ecosystem. They will be divided into different areas of specialisation, such as cybersecurity, internationalisation, technology centres led by the Basque Research & Technology Alliance (BRTA), artificial intelligence with the presence of the Basque Artificial Intelligence Centre (BAIC), digital transition skills, as well as startups. In total, about 80 exhibitors are expected.

The startups stands linked to the BIND 4.0 program will be present, both those from last year and those represented in 2023, and 18 offices of the external network will also have their space in order to meet the internationalisation interests of the Basque companies, specifically, in America:

  • USA
  • Mexico
  • Colombia
  • Chile
  • Brazil
  • Argentina
  • Uruguay

From Europe:

  • United Kingdom and Ireland
  • France
  • Germany (tbc)
  • Italy
  • Poland and Ukraine
  • Rep. Czech and Slovakia

And from Asia:

  • Japan
  • South Korea
  • India
  • ASEAN (office of Southeast Asian countries)
  • China

By the way, in relation to internationalisation and specifically, in this exhibition area it should be noted that the event will have a stand in which members of the Warsaw office (responsible for the Ukrainian market), as well as Ukrainian companies and associations will offer business opportunities to Basque companies around the ‘Rebuild Ukraine’ reconstruction programme supported by the European Union. Meetings in this regard may be requested during the event, both with BasqueTrade personnel and with Ukrainian companies and associations

Registrations remain open, and 150 companies are expected to attend as speakers or direct participants, in addition to the numerous attendees. In previous years, there have been almost 2,000 visitors to the event.

SME Week 2023

The European SME Week will continue on subsequent days with other continental events. The celebration of the SME Assembly between 14 and 15 November will be the most important event for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Europe. In a hybrid format, both face-to-face and online, the assembly will feature high-level panels and interviews, expert roundtables, interactive workshops and informative master classes. The objective is to provide SMEs with the tools adequate for the transition towards sustainability and digitalisation.

In addition, the annual conference of the Europe Enterprise Network — EEN — will take place between 16 and 17 November. The Basque Country has been part of this organisation since its inception. In fact, the SPRI Group leads the Basque EEN consortium, made up of a thousand European representatives. It is the world's largest support network for small and medium-sized enterprises, active all over the world and bringing together experts from organisations recognised for their excellence in business support. It includes chambers of commerce and industry, regional development organisations, universities and research institutes, and innovation agencies.

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Politicians attending the event