Although this site is primarily focused on Social FinTech, we’re still a big fan of all types of social enterprises – that’s why we’ve decided to post an article about the social enterprise ecosystem in Spain. Whether you’re a curious university student, are in the initial phases of launching a start-up, own a social enterprise that needs investment or are an impact investor, then this article will be of interest to you.
Spain’s Social Enterprise Ecosystem has Rapidly Expanded From all Angles
Spanish business schools have been offering more courses and programs with social entrepreneurship as their main focus. Incubators and accelerators are popping up all over Spain. There are associations and organisations for social enterprises and impact investment. Furthermore, there have been numerous social impact funds being launched by big players in Madrid, such as Gala Capital’s ‘Cuanimen’ Impact Fund, Qualitas, Creas and more.
We’ve compiled a list of Spain’s top accelerators/incubators for social entrepreneurs in Spain. Accelerators offer you access to a new network of collaborators, exposure to investors and expert help on both your financial and social returns. If you’re launching a start-up that has social impact as one of its core attributes, then joining one of these accelerators will give your business the boost it needs.
Accelerators/Incubators for Social Enterprises in Spain
UnLtd was launched in 2002 by seven organisations, they are active in 10 countries and have an extensive network/support system. UnLtd has backed over 16,500 social entrepreneurs worldwide since it was formed, of which UnLtd Spain has supported over 70 Spanish social impact start-ups in the past 5 years. They are based in Madrid and their programs are focused in three key areas: sustainable cities, health and agriculture. UnLtd Spain is a prominent player in the social enterprise ecosystem.
Momentum is an accelerator created by BBVA, one of Spain’s top banks. They are active in many countries and have an intense accelerator program where your start-up can get exposure to a vast network. The Momentum accelerator is recognised in Spain’s Venture Capital space, they have a rigid application process so once you’re in they’ll make sure you get the most out of the program!
Endeavour is a worldwide accelerator, it was launched in Chile and Argentina in 1998. Now they have escalated their operations to 24 locations around the world. Over the years Endeavour has shifted their focus to helping Impact Entrepreneurs. They have their own investor network, where they boast of having 1,880 ‘high-impact entrepreneurs’ which their 29 VC and private equity firm members could be interested in.
Social Nest was Spain’s first social enterprise accelerator, it was launched in 2010 in Valencia. Since then they have specialised their programs into a few sectors: “YOUTH, LAUNCH & RAISE”. The YOUTH program is for disadvantaged youngsters who are passionate about entrepreneurship, LAUNCH is their accelerator, then their last program, RAISE, consists of advice from mentors and exposure to investors in order to help with raising investment.
Health & Wellbeing – HealthTech Sector
Sanitas is one of Spain’s most prominent healthcare services, they are a part of Bupa, an international healthcare provider. Sanitas has launched their accelerator with 6 main focuses: preventive care, hospital 2.0, artificial intelligence, blockchain, data & analytics and robotics. If accepted to join the accelerator, each start-up will get €25k, workspace and a robust 3-month acceleration program. Disruptive is well known in the VC world when it comes to the health sector, only 6 start-ups a year get accepted through their rigorous application process.
Biopolo looks for start-ups in the health industry who are in the clinical validation or proof of concept phase. They offer support in a range of ways, with technical expertise, knowledge, infrastructure and resources. The development team also helps with any clinical, financial and development risks that may arise.
Incubadora de Ideas is an incubator which was launched by IDIS (Institute of Sanitary Investigation), it is also in collaboration with several entities, ranging from the Madrid health service, a university, hospital and a foundation. They aim to leverage this forum of expertise and know-how to help entrepreneurs through the initial stages of their idea so that they can reach the market and help patients.
Environment & Sustainability – CleanTech Sector
EIT InnoEnergy and EIT Climate KIC are Europe’s leading climate innovation initiatives. They are both supported by the European Institute of Innovation & Technology (EIT). They have created a whole ecosystem for innovation around climate change. From a climate-KIC masters certification which is an add-on course at partnered universities, to their incubator, accelerator and their community of 370+ global partners spanning universities, businesses, cities and NGOs, giving them an ‘unrivalled breadth of knowledge and expertise’. They have supported over 2,000 start-ups, of which 20 entrepreneurs have been honoured in the Forbes 30 under 30 Europe list.
TheCircularLab is an accelerator that is specialised in the circular economy. Their mission is to change the one-use culture by helping start-ups create solutions that reduce our overall waste. The program lasts between 3-6 months and the accelerator is located in Logroño, North Spain.
Education – EdtTech Sector
SEK Lab have both an accelerator and an incubator which are specialised in EdTech. They don’t take equity for participation and their accelerator program lasts 6 months. Anyone is eligible to take part in the incubator. The only requirement for the accelerator is that your start-up has to have been running for at least 3 years and be using modern technology to innovate in the education sector.
Food & Agriculture – AgriTech Sector
CA! Accelerator looks for startups in the FoodTech and AgriTech space, their program lasts 2 months. They are not explicitly for social enterprises, but most startups in these segments usually have a social aspect.
GastroLab has a large industrial kitchen area for social entrepreneurs looking to make healthy and sustainable food. Start-ups also get free access to coworking spaces with flexible workplaces, conference rooms and space for programs/activities.
Social Inclusion Sector
Capazia was created to help people with disabilities in becoming self employed and fulfilling their entrepreneurial goals. Their programs vary from offering training on how to run a business, an incubator and an accelerator. Capazia’s programs are free of charge, except for the accelerator in which they take some equity of the start-up. Their main areas of interest are for social inclusion, increasing the quality of life for disabled people or the start-up in general being run by a majority of disabled people (hence increasing the employment of this sector).
Associations/Organisations for the Social Enterprise Ecosystem
There are also a number of associations which will give your social enterprise exposure to both potential investors and a new network of collaborators. Examples are: AEF, Social Enterprise.es & Asociacion Startups. Along with these associations for social enterprises, there are also organisations for the impact investment side of things. Foro Impacto is a member of the GSG, “Global Steering Group” which is serving as a catalyst for the impact investment industry. SpainSIF has also been been pushing for responsible investments for over 10 years. These two organisations promote collaboration and cohesion among economic actors between the public, private and third sectors. Their aims are to integrate a social impact aspect into all economic and business decision making.
Social Impact Funds – “Cuanimen“
One of the many social impact funds – which only invest in social enterprises – is Gala Capital’s “Cuanimen”. Cuanimen is a €20M social impact fund that is in its initial stages and is planning to conduct its first investment into a social enterprise in Q4 2019. Each investment will be between €500K and €1.5M, with the possibility of larger investments as a follow on. The mission of Cuanimen is to resolve Spain’s most pressing problems. These problems have been condensed into 5 sectors for investment: health/wellbeing, food/agriculture, environment/sustainability, education and social inclusion.
Cuanimen will be investing into companies that have at least 3 years of operations and a proven past with both financial and social returns. Along with this, a sophisticated business model, use of innovative technology, clear social aims, scalability, a strong management team, a promising EBITDA and the use of social impact metrics with quantitative data of the positive impact created make the start-ups more attractive. For social impact funds, the use of impact metrics in a start-up is crucial so that investors can clearly measure and see the impact their investments are having.
So there you have a roundup of Spain’s social enterprise ecosystem; including an outline of the main accelerators/incubators in Spain, along with some tips on what social impact funds – like Gala Capital’s Cuanimen – are searching for when investing. In the past few years, the increased interest with societal and environmental issues has resulted in this expanding ecosystem for social entrepreneurs. We expect this trend to keep rising, making it more accessible for social enterprises to make a positive difference.