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Opentop brings together startups, companies and government to boost open innovation in ports

Valencia, November 24, 2022. Digitalization, talent attraction, internationalization and sustainability are the four pillars on which Opentop is based. The open innovation hub of Fundación Valenciaport, in collaboration with Telefónica Open Future, unveiled this Wednesday the global trends and challenges that the port sector will face in the coming years.

The headquarters of the accelerator Innsomnia was the place chosen to celebrate the I Opentop Innovation Day: “Boosting the port of the future through open and sustainable innovation“. It was attended by nearly 200 people including authorities, managers, representatives of venture capital, startups, entrepreneurs and stakeholders in the sector to analyze new digitalization and entrepreneurship initiatives. Also the conversion of those ports such as Valencia that are consolidating as technological poles capable of driving the knowledge economy and sustainable development.

The Port of Valencia as a benchmark for open innovation

For the Councilor for Territorial Policy, Public Works and Mobility, Rebeca Torró, this initiative is a great opportunity for the Port of Valencia, one of the most important vectors for the development of the Valencian Community. “Its growth is accompanied by an intense work of innovation that allows improving the competitiveness of the logistics sector, its digitization and automation,” she said.

The councilor also highlighted the relevance of ports as “nodes and modal interface” and their transformation into agents of “technological development that offer a response to the challenges of international trade.”

In this regard, she emphasized the importance of innovation and digital transformation as two values “essential to ensure a clean, sustainable and efficient operation in highly dynamic and competitive logistics environments“. Also the role of public administrations to “favor through the use of technology, the implementation of artificial intelligence, sensor networks and registration systems to enhance communication channels with the rest of the parties involved”.

The structuring role of the Port of Valencia within the Valencian business ecosystem and its commitment to logistics innovation was another of the aspects highlighted by Aurelio Martínez, president of the Port Authority of Valencia and the Fundación Valenciaport, in his turn to speak. “The port of Valencia, which is digital and collaborative, has made considerable progress in innovation projects and now must make the leap to bring all that technology to the market. That is what Opentop aims to do, that R&D&I projects have a reflection in the market for what is absolutely necessary: collaboration between large corporations, startups and technology companies.”

An issue also addressed by Antonio Torregrosa, general director of Fundación Valenciaport, when he explained in a conversation with Rafael Navarro, co-founding partner of Innsomnia, the main advantages of Opentop in terms of international positioning and attracting talent. “Valencia is a fantastic place for innovation and we have a fabric of very disruptive startups that we have to take advantage of. Opentop comes to reinforce these objectives with tools such as our incubation and acceleration programs, as well as with the venture capital fund that we will launch in 2023 to invest in innovation and technologies and in public and private actors who want to enter,” he said.

New technologies and collaboration between startups and corporations are at the center of the debate

Frontier innovation, continuous learning, ICT as a service and the expansion of trust boundaries were some of the new trends exposed by Paco Bree, CEO of Inndux, during the presentation of the report ‘Trends in the port logistics sector’, prepared by Inndux and Fundación Valenciaport. “The report brings together 20 applied technologies such as artificial intelligence, digital twins or virtual reality and I must say that innovation in ports is powerful and consolidated because they are going to propitiate two possible results. On the one hand, greater efficiency and on the other, greater predictability, which in turn can increase the number of sales. In fact, it is a sector where innovators can look to expand their creativity,” he said.

Knowledge management, lifelong learning and cooperation between startups and large corporations defined the thematic debates during the first part of the day. In this last block, the interventions of Inés Oliveira, global director of Telefónica Open Future; Salvador Furió, director of Innovation and Port Cluster Development of Fundación Valenciaport; Nagore Ardanza, director of Bilbao Portlab and José Llorca, head of Innovation of Puertos del Estado, who insisted on the need to “evangelize” so that administrations, companies and startups incorporate innovative solutions to their interconnected processes, stood out. “We have to think about open innovation through collaboration. Sharing data is vital in digitization processes and right now there is not much willingness to do so. In this sense, either the sector adapts to new technologies or it is really going to be left out of the market,” stressed Llorca at the round table ‘The necessary collaboration in the sector between startups and corporates’.

For her part, Nagore Ardanza placed special emphasis on how this collaborative work model will define the new market dynamics “the relationship between corporations and startups has gradually evolved from the client-supplier model, through the investor-investee to the current one, which is a co-creation relationship”.

The fight against climate change, process automation and innovation applied to the development of Green Ports were some of the issues addressed in the second part, where startups took the floor. This was the case in the round table ‘Disruption, innovation and talent grow in ports’ with the participation of Adriaan Landman (COO of Allread), Hugo Mira (CEO of Mojito360), Nuria Lloret (Senior Advisor of Metric Salad), Beatriz Turumbay (Project Manager at Code Contract) and Gabriel Ferrús (CEO of SEAPort Solutions). One of the general requests heard was the need to encourage specialization so that startups can mature their solutions and turn them into a business model. “What we have to look for is the efficiency of processes from digitalization so that ports have a lower environmental impact and comply with the zero-emissions model within the deadlines set,” Gabriel Ferrús clarified.

Cristian Ull, co-founder of Area101, spoke about the initiatives and success stories that have already been implemented in the port sector during the presentation of the report ‘101 innovation stories’. A scenario of global change where innovation policies driven by public bodies play an important role, as Andrés García Reche, executive vice-president of the Valencian Innovation Agency (AVI), indicated in his appearance. “We make an innovation policy aimed at improving the productive fabric that already exists because our function is to generate value. Now everyone agrees that the business world and the agency must work together and for that there must be an operation that works,” he defended.

Juan Manuel Díez, head of Strategic Planning and Innovation at the Port Authority of Valencia, closed the day by claiming the role of the entity and the value of weaving global alliances to improve the competitiveness of ports in line with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and talent retention. “The SDGs set a roadmap to help us with these challenges, including decarbonization, and to do so we must establish partnerships between public and private, corporates and startups. In the port sector we need to attract talent and open innovation is key,” he concluded.

About Opentop 

Opentop  is the innovation hub of Valenciaport driven by the Fundación Valenciaport in collaboration with Telefónica Open Future. The I Acceleration Call is open until December 4, with the aim of boosting open innovation in the port logistics sector, promoting the creation and growth of innovative technology companies. 

Its direct link to the Port of Valencia will give startups participating in its programs the opportunity to work directly from and with the companies of the first Spanish port and fourth European port in container traffic, promoting entrepreneurship not only regionally, but nationally and internationally, while strengthening the business fabric of the city.

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