Angel Puig at a Mallorcastartups presentation.

05-05-2018Humphrey Carter

Do you have an ingenious business idea which you wish to get off the ground, or have as a fledgling working plan but could do with some financial and professional help? Well, Connect’Up could be the answer you are looking for.

Connect’Up is a new groundbreaking programme that promotes innovation and which connects Balearic businesses via a competition for projects, workshops, activities and conferences on innovation. The focus of this programme is on businesses engaged in tourism technologies and innovation and biotechnology as well as those from the "blue" economy (to do with the sea) and creative industries. It has been organised by the Grup Serra in association with its main sponsor, the CaixaBank.

And in organising the Dragons' Den style competition, representatives from over twenty public, private and entrepreneurial and educational sectors and institutions have been brought together. With the project, there is encouragement for the collection "of ideas from anyone and from investors who wish to be involved". Connect’Up is "an open project". It provides a framework for providing visibility to the most innovative ideas coming out of the Balearics. Moreover, it offers a meeting point for entrepreneurs, investors and institutions.

The president of the Confederation of Balearic Business Associations (CAEB), Carmen Planas, gave as an example the Majorcan company Habitíssimo. It gained international recognition after winning awards such as that in 2016 from the Spanish Confederation of Small to Medium Sized Business.

There have been several months of intense activity and up to yesterday, over 131 entrepreneurs had registered with the Connect’Up programme for innovative business projects. The first phase of the programme has required registration along with a business plan. In the case of the "entrepreneur" category, the deadline for presenting projects and registering is tomorrow, 7 May.

The criteria for this are that applicants should be new entrepreneurs or businesses that are less than four years old and that the projects should be related to tourism, the "blue" economy (the sea), the bioeconomy, or the cultural or creative industries.

The other two categories are "intrapreneur" (entrepreneurial initiative within a company) and "Baccalaureate/Vocational Training". The deadline for projects in these categories is 31 May.

The twenty finalists will go through a process of training that will culminate in June with the Connect’Up Days. During these, there will be entrepreneur meetings, conferences and networking with investors. On the final day, winners will be announced for three categories: entrepreneur with four years or less experience; intrapreneur; and Baccalaureate-Vocational Training project and all will have to go before a panel of judges made up of 14 potential investors looking for a project they consider viable in getting involved in and helping to develop.

The winners will receive a variety of professional placements at ParcBit and offered free training and help with their projects. The main prize is 8,000 euros plus a three month placement at ParcBit and a year of co-working, newspaper subscriptions - the foreign and international media is an important part of business development - and other forms of assistance to accelerate the business project.

The programme has the support of the Balearic government, the Institute of Business Innovation, the University of the Balearic Islands, Fundació BIT, PalmaActiva, the Calvia Institute for Training and Occupation, CAEB, the Chamber of Commerce, Pimem and the CESAG centre for higher education.

And recently, Connect’Up was introduced to the largest start-up community on the island. Mallorcastartups, which was founded some two years ago by Gerry, a former director of Amazon, and business experts and entrepreneurs Chris and Fabian, has a community of some 1,500 start-up businesspeople of all nationalities on the island with the main language being English. One of the organisers of Connect’Up, Angel Puig, the CEO of Nautic Advisor, which is based at ParcBit, presented the Connect’Up competition to over 100 budding entrepreneurs at one of Mallorcastartups regular meetings at the Boat House in Palma.

Angel said that the Connect’Up initiative is an excellent new programme for young people who have a good business project and proposal but need help in getting it off the ground or further development with a fledgling small business.

"We offer great training and an elevator to greater things. Over 100 people have registered for Connect’Up and by getting the start-up community at large involved has been an important opportunity because it means that, in the future, all those who have registered, whether they win or not, can join Mallorcastartups and attend their bimonthly meetings and activity events they organise. It is the perfect environment to network in and it is what we need on the island.

"Start ups are not as 'sexy' as they are in the United Kingdom, northern Europe or the United States and there is little help and encouragement from the local authorities and financial institutions. Our mission is not only to expand the start-up community and help young businesspeople but also get the financial bodies on board, get them to understand that these people are the future of new industries and a new economy on the island and should therefore receive assistance. The trouble is that the banks, for example, consider start ups as high risk, but if we don’t take a risk here in Majorca, all this talent we have around the island, not only at ParcBit, will go to waste or go overseas and be lost.

"Start ups are very low profile at the moment and we want to change that, we want to make them high profile and become a reference point for people who have great new ideas and want to literally start up in business. And we hope that Connect’Up is the first step towards achieving all our goals."


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