VALENCIA

Spain 2020 | ECONOMY | B2B

With its naturally ideal location, Valencia-based firms are emphasizing digitalization and sustainability to grow even more competitive.

Salvador Navarro Pradas
SALVADOR NAVARRO PRADAS
President
Confederación Empresarial de la Comunitat Valenciana (CEV)
Júlia Company
JÚLIA COMPANY
Executive Director
Instituto Valenciano de Competitividad Empresarial (IVACE)

Can you tell us a little bit about your origin and evolution?
SALVADOR NAVARRO PRADAS The Business Confederation was established in 1977. At that time, vertical unions were created, but associations were not allowed. The confederation is the sum of associations and federations that are now autonomous. Now, we have an autonomous community with three provinces and three sectors, counties, and localities. But they also have a single business confederation at the community level. This does not happen in the rest of Spain. Each one has its province. Here, we have made a dynamic model. Right now, our dependencies are mostly private. There is a unique company identification number (NIF) that covers the entire territory of the community. We have three delegations and three offices in Castellón, Valencia, and Alicante, each with its president. But the structure is centralized here. Now there is a CEV Alicante, a CEV Castellón, a CEV Valencia, and a business confederation of the Valencian community. There is an autonomous president and three provincials.

JÚLIA COMPANY IVACE is a public institution born as a result of the merger of several entities in 2014 under the previous government. The four entities that merged were AVEN, the Valencian energy agency; IMPIVA, which focused on innovation; SEPIVA, the agency managing Valencian industrial parks; and IVEX, which managed international relations. As a result, IVACE has four main areas. In industrial parks, we seek to manage existing assets and develop new ones; in innovation, we decide the incentives we will offer businesses based in the Valencian region; and in energy, we focus mainly on boosting renewable energy projects and diversifying the energy mix. We are also the regional agency for FDI, helping companies to start their business in our territory.

How do you promote digitalization and R&D?
SNP We preside over the committee of the RIS3, where we have clearly defined innovation. The Valencian community has a salary remuneration and innovation index below the Spanish average. The business dimension is not a problem at the level of innovation, but the mentality itself is a problem. People must want to get involved. One of the strengths of this community, besides its entrepreneurial capacity, is its strategic positioning, despite the infrastructure deficit. The port of Vancouver, for example, receives or sends 20% of the total going to the port of Valencia. One of the benefits of this territory is its positioning. China and Japan consider us a gateway to both Europe and Latin America. We recently made a business visit to Japan that went well. Japan has a company in Castellón called UBE. We have powerful sectors here. The furniture industry is rebounding, but we have to go to sectors with high average value products. The value of Spain's strong sectors such as agri-food, informatics, manufacturing, chemistry, and optics all have seen significant foreign investment. Some companies almost go unnoticed, although they have about 2,000 workers, such as Dulcesol.

JC Most of the companies in Valencia are SMEs, so most do not have an R&D department, which means we have to help them in this area. When we started, we realized the level of digitalization of Valencian companies was extremely low, so we developed an Industry 4.0 agenda to help businesses advance in their process of digitalization. We awarded several grants depending on their digitalization level. In addition, we have advisors that can partner with the companies to bring their digitalization processes forward. We also awarded grants to clusters and associations to promote innovation across businesses. In addition, we offer certain benefits to private firms or institutions that want to invest in R&D. Among these benefits, we can provide tax incentives for companies, technological institutes, and universities that invest in innovative projects. Furthermore, we offer benefits for the creation of new companies in the technology sector.