CEEIARAGON (European Center for Business and Innovation of Aragon) was founded in 1992 by different Aragonese institutions to promote innovative business initiatives of an industrial nature. Since then, the center has not stopped helping all entrepreneurs with good ideas to make their projects come true. MUNDUS speaks with Celia García Anzano, current director of CEEIARAGON, to take a tour through the center’s three decades of history and to learn more about the international projects in which she participates.
A journalist by training, Celia was appointed director of the center in 2019 after making a career leading the Walqa Technology Park and previously the Marketing and Communication department of the Aragonese digital company Centraldereservas.com. She also has experience in holding international events and congresses.
The director of the center tells us that almost 30 years after the creation of CEEIARAGON, the main mission has not changed in essence, since what they do in their day to day continues to be helping innovative business projects, now also known as start- ups, from the base. “The ultimate objective, as a public company of the Government of Aragon, is social benefit through the creation of a more competitive business fabric based on innovation”, explains Celia García Anzano.
The work of the center is easy to understand, but the implementation is already more complex. In the end, the idea is to get entrepreneurs to transform their initial idea into a real company and, for this, CEEIARAGON helps them through 3 mechanisms.
On the one hand, there is the business incubator. Celia describes it as the more traditional line of support. Currently, they have three headquarters (Zaragoza, Huesca and Teruel) strategically located next to technology centers such as ITAINNOVA, the School of Engineering of the University of Zaragoza, the Walqa technology park or important educational centers such as the FP IES Pirámide. In total, there are more than 7 thousand square meters of facilities. “There are entrepreneurs who come with an idea written on a napkin or on a mobile note and there are even companies that already come with a certain volume and want to grow. We attend to them in all phases of their development ”, explains the director.
They also offer the CRECE line of services since November 2020 for the development of business projects outside the 3 provincial capitals. Due to the teleworking trend and relocation, this option allows the CEEIARAGON team to support projects, for example, from rural areas without the need to live in large cities.
Finally, a line of work that encompasses the previous two: generating an ecosystem for innovation. Celia argues that networking is essential. The collaboration between the clusters, installed in the CEEIARAGON headquarters in Zaragoza, of all the institutions with which they work, large private companies or associations such as Mundus.
VET is taking on a very important relevance
The relationship between CEEIARAGON and Mundus was born just half a year ago and is already bearing important results for both organizations. The center is for Mundus a multiplier of hosted companies, facilitating that students who arrive in Zaragoza thanks to the Erasmus for Professional Training program can carry out internships in some of the companies that are developed in CEEIARAGON.
Celia explains that the Erasmus program is well known in the university field, but not so much in the field of VET. However, he points out that this is changing: “VET is taking on a very important relevance, also in Spain and we are beginning to look a lot at what the northern European countries do where VET has been well established for many years.” For the director of the CEEI, it is very interesting that students of this type of training come to know how companies work abroad and it is also very interesting for companies to have these profiles. “They also do a great job, they come very well trained for the jobs for which they have been prepared and they bring a different vision, very enriching,” says Celia García Anzano.
This contact with students from other countries is also a way to advance in the internationalization of companies, something to which the CEEIARAGON pays a lot of attention: “If a company is thinking of internationalizing, the fact of having people of different nationalities and a certain diversity it also brings that international vision. And even if they are not thinking of internationalizing, it would also be a good bet because diversity always enriches any project ”, says Celia.
Each market has its rules. That is why it is so important to go hand in hand with experts
Although, as Celia clarifies, the needs are very different depending on the sector; the overall market is more global than ever. For this reason, CEEIARAGON offers its entrepreneurs help regarding the process of launching their products and services outside of Spain: “Each market has its rules. That is why it is so important to go hand in hand with experts like Aragón Exterior who advise you along the way ”, says Celia.
But the internationalization of CEEIARAGON does not stop only in the internationalization of the companies it supports, nor in the, very important, reception of international students on internships. The center, as its own entity, is a participant in several European projects. “We have the word ‘European’ in the name. Since our beginnings we have been a BIC (European Business and Innovation Center), a business and innovation center recognized by Europe, for us it is something natural within our mission ”, explains its director. Currently, they are participating in two European projects: one called Bio-ALL on biotechnology and health and another known as ACELE-StartUps, which consists of a cross-border methodology for accelerating start-ups.
From Mundus, we hope that the students who come to the city of Zaragoza can continue learning from the companies included in the CEEIARAGON environment and that they benefit from the young and international vision of our VET internship students.