Net loses appeal for Spanish innovators

March 30, 2001

Budding entrepreneurs in Spain have gone off the internet. Ninety per cent of ideas presented to investors at business school IESE's New Business Forum in Barcelona last year were e-businesses. This year, less than 20 per cent were based on the internet.

Patrick Kelly, a second-year MBA student at IESE, said: "People are still producing business plans which make use of new technology such as mobiles, but they are getting away from the old internet model of just buying and selling things over the net."

Pedro Nueno, who holds a chair in entrepreneurship at IESE, points to two reasons for the change: "There is a certain decline of interest in new technology because of the failure of some companies but also many market niches have already been filled."

One effect of the internet boom has been to make setting up your own business a more attractive option. Mr Kelly notes that many students are less interested in following traditional MBA career routes in banking or consulting.

"They are looking for something which allows them a lot more creativity," he said.

Spanish startups report difficulties accessing seed capital. Ramon Morera, director general of venture capital fund Innova 31, believes Spanish investors are more adverse to risk than those in the United Kingdom: "They want projects which are already up and running."

A few universities are trying to remedy the situation. Innova 31 was set up by the Technical University of Catalonia and has two startups on its books. Like IESE's e3 million (£1.87 million) Entrepreneurship Foundation, it provides early-stage financing that it aims to recoup by selling its stake in the second round of funding.

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