Basque Open Industry activates 800 meetings and appointments between companies through the Networking Land app
- The event, with 2,300 people registered, concluded with a second day marked by the deployment of the industrial strength of the Basque Country in fields such as Artificial Intelligence, cybersecurity, energy, microelectronics and technology.
Basque Open Industry has enabled nearly 800 business meetings, appointments and demonstrations between companies thanks to the Networking Land app enabled by SPRI. This interconnection between the Basque industrial ecosystem in matters such as internationalisation and application of R&D has been one of the centrepieces of this event held at the Bilbao Exhibition Centre (BEC) from Monday 13th.
This matching tool has helped attendees to get the most out of their participation in the event thanks to its functionalities aimed at providing quick and agile logistics of appointments and personalised demonstrations and the ease of finding companies of interest to them. In this way, it has been possible to create meeting agendas with startups specialized in Industry 4.0 transformative projects, latest technologies and solutions in AI, cybersecurity, software, connectivity and IoT, advanced sensorics, Big Data, immersive technologies, robotics and electronics, computing, additive manufacturing, machine vision and edge computing.
Similarly, companies have been able to contrast the possibilities of applying technologies from the centres to their respective business projects, as well as to learn about the possibilities and opportunities for international expansion of their business projects in meetings held with people from the offices of the Basque Trade & Investment Foreign Network of the SPRI Group in 23 markets.
Thanks to all this, the BOI has served to showcase the Basque industrial and technological ecosystem at an international level during the European SME Week 2023. Not only this, the 2,300 people registered, mostly from Basque companies and technology centres, also took advantage of the two days to find opportunities for their businesses and improve their competitiveness. The BEC also showcased the potential of the hundred or so exhibitors who have demonstrated their technological capabilities to the attendees.
The challenges of AI
Lately, it has become clear that Artificial Intelligence arouses a high interest in the Basque business ecosystem. This was demonstrated on the second day of Basque Open Industry, where a specific session was organized by the Basque Artificial Intelligence Centre (BAIC). Through different talks on the future of this technology, Basque and international specialists identified the challenges of AI and the necessary actions to be able to develop it within the Basque business fabric. Among the conclusions, the need to focus on training to respond to the challenges that exist was stressed, as well as the importance of collaboration between companies, without forgetting the necessary ethical and regulatory aspects .
Sebastian Große Puppendahl, from the Baden-Württemberg region (Germany), also called for “collaboration between different countries to be able to create a network of collaboration and exchange technologies, in addition to creating infrastructures.” In addition, during the second day, the Basque Artificial Intelligence Centre presented the guide developed by BAIC with guidelines for applying AI in industry, which will help companies to identify the processes in which it can be useful.
Business-to-business collaboration in cybersecurity
Cybersecurity also played an important role. In fact, as the speakers in this area reminded us, “AI would have no future without cybersecurity.” There are data to take into account, such as the fact that half of the SMEs that suffer an IT attack disappear within six months. The sectors most affected by cyber attacks are technology companies, telecommunications, manufacturing and healthcare.
BOI has been able to learn about successful cases in this field, such as the creation of an infrastructure for equipment manufacturers to prevent cyber attacks. Also other initiatives that have a common idea — to create a collaborative network where companies can share their cybersecurity strategies to strengthen their defences.
Some sectors are advanced in this area, such as the electricity sector, but others need to improve their protection systems. Even so, the speakers are optimistic about the future, and are confident that stringent regulation will force more and more sectors to have security programmes in place and that this technology will continue to develop. In addition, a type of computing that is having an increasing presence in the field of cybersecurity, Post Quantum, a computing based on cryptographic algorithms that is more resistant to attacks carried out by quantum computing, has been discussed.
Opportunities in energy
Basque Open Industry also addressed the technological development opportunities for SMEs in the energy transition. Cristina Oyon, Director of Technology, Innovation and Sustainability of the SPRI Group, explained the programme, known as cascade financing. It is a new European aid model aimed at SMEs that simplifies and speeds up the process of obtaining financing for technological innovation projects. “We want to know more about the SMEs that access European projects and help them, with our experience in SPRI. We have already held a one-day conference and have another planned for November 30.”
José Ignacio Hormaeche, managing director of the Basque Country Energy cluster, spoke about the opportunity of offshore wind power for European industry, which by 2050 will offer the same energy as traditional onshore wind power. However, he showed different industry reports that conclude that it is growing less than expected, mainly due to the lack of production capacity of the wind farm infrastructure. But there are good prospects as “the European Commission has published a standard that, for the first time, sets production capacity targets. And it has taken a second step with a wind sector action plan.”
Marcos Suárez, director of strategic areas of the Energy cluster, referred to the Elbe Eurocluster, launched in 2022 and focused on marine renewable energies. Azucena Jiménez Pérez, project manager at the Advanced Manufacturing Cluster of the Metal Industry of Asturias, presented the Ingenious eurocluster project, which offers financing for the decarbonisation of energy-intensive industries.
The future lies in multi-technologies
The technology session was led by the Basque Research and Technology Alliance (BRTA). The alliance has sought to highlight the value of the actions carried out by its different technology centres, offering guides and assistance for the industry of the future. Eva Arrilucea, head of Tecnalia's Think&Do strategy group, spoke about strategic sovereignty and the industry's ability to develop its own technologies. Today, 70% of technology patents are held in China andthe United States. For this reason, “collaboration between public entities, companies and technology centres” is vital.
In addition, the future of the technology industry was discussed, “a revolution that will not be long in coming and that will be one of the biggest we have ever seen,” according to some of the speakers, who stressed that the commitment to R&D&I is just as important in SMEs as in large companies. Another of the revolutions facing the technology sector is the amount of data that will be generated, and where to store it. It is estimated that by 2026, 80% of that data will be recorded in connected smart objects, also known as the Cloud.
Another important variable is sustainability and the circular economy, which translates into the digital passport, which is already being implemented. Representatives of the different technology centres identified three challenges for the future — sustainability, digitalisation and technology. They also stressed the importance of multi-technology projects, as any initiative must already have AI, cybersecurity, data analytics.... Finally, they wanted to highlight the value of the Basque technological ecosystem, since there are around 3,500 technologists in the centres alone that are part of the BRTA.
Microelectronics seeks a boost in the Basque Country
The semiconductor crisis that paralysed part of the world's semiconductor industry two years ago has given impetus to initiatives such as the Basque Microelectronics Hub (BMH). The microelectronics strategy in the Basque Country was discussed on the second day of the Basque Open Industrythe event organised by the SPRI Group which demonstrated to Europe the public-private industrial and technological ecosystem of the Basque Country.
Oscar Fernández de Retana, R&D director at Grupo Arteche, opened the conference and explained that the BMH was created to revitalise Basque microelectronics by training specialists, promoting new companies and accelerating sector diversification.
Xabier Alberdi, responsible for strategic design and general coordinator of BMH, chaired a round table with experts from the microelectronics sector. Amaia Zurutuza, scientific director at Graphenea, pointed out that they are the only ones producing graphene chips “still in the research phase, but they are expected to have applications in sensors” and noted that public funding and investment in infrastructure are needed. “We should focus on niche applications and align with Europe.” Mikel Choperena, CEO of Kliskatek, said that we have a lot of knowledge and regretted “not having people around to share our doubts with. We have to turn to France or the US and China.”