The UB Business School researcher Claudio Cruz Cazares has recently been appointed director of the Barcelona Entrepreneurship Institute (BIE), which supports and promotes entrepreneurship amongst members of the university community. Mr. Cruz Cazares is also an MSc in Business Research lecturer and a PhD in Business advisor. He has also been director of the Master in Creation and Management of Innovative Technology-based companies at the Faculty of Economics and Business until his designation as director of the BIE. Mr. Cruz Cazares’ research interests are in the field of innovation strategies, and open innovation.
Are you excited about your new position? What do you think it will be your contribution?
Yes, I am quite exited! It is a privileged position where we could help students to foster an entrepreneurial spirit and to create a start-up. The previous director has done a great job in developing initiatives directed to satisfy the needs of most of the students’ profiles. However now we are working in a redefinition of the offer aiming to cover most of the entrepreneurial path. We have defined four pillars: Discovery Track, Validation Path, Launching Lab and Acceleration, where the redesigned programs will hang. This will allow to offer a full program (training, mentoring and access to funding) in order to help students in launching a start-up. We are also in a redefinition process of our image -we expect to present it in September- in order to be closer to our target, UB students. Our main goal is to be the first option when students want any kind of help when developing their entrepreneurial initiative. Strong communication strategies are going to be implemented. Unfortunately, most of students don’t know that the existence of the BIE and how it could help them. That has to change. Additionally, we aim to be connected to the start-up ecosystem in Barcelona and be a leading center.
When I mention “we” is because, lucky me, I am not alone in this challenge. All this will be possible thanks to the support of the Rector of our University and Vicerector of Entrepreneurship Innovation, Transfer and Innovation. Additionally, I count with the close support of Esther Hormiga, Adriana Espinet and Jaume Argerich, all of them professors from our Faculty, plus the great team inside the BIE.
Entrepreneurship is on everyone’s lips today. However, do you think that the university contributes enough to boost entrepreneurship amongst university students?
Market trends, jointly with the facilities that Barcelona city offers, have favored the creation of a different concept of becoming an entrepreneur; it’s needed, it’s exciting, it’s trendy, it’s cool and furthermore it’s possible! I believe all universities should make an effort to root in their students the entrepreneurial spirit since the first day they enroll in the bachelor courses. The creation of the BIE (five years ago), the iDay which took place last November, and the summer schools supported by the EIT Health are initiatives in this direction, but more effort is needed. A systemic change is needed, entrepreneurship courses should be included in all bachelor programs in the university, all students, with creative ideas should have the support to further develop them and, eventually, launch a start-up. It is a great challenge, but we are eager to achieve it.
UB Business School students might be an important pool from which to draw future entrepreneurs. What would be your advice for our students?
Of course, UB Business School students have a relative advantage than other students which is the business oriented mindset, essential when creating a start-up. One of the main principles of the open innovation approach is that companies (start-ups, for example) don’t need to develop the innovation or technology to profit from it. On the other hand, there are lots of cases where science-based students have one technological idea or developed a prototype, but they need someone, business oriented, to develop a Business Model. Our students don’t really need to have a great idea to be able to launch a start-up, they could partner with science-based students (among others) and exploit the business mindset. The BIE is currently working in offering a platform which will facilitate this connection between different student’s profiles. I would recommend them to be active, take the lead and no to fear to failure since failure is a learning process.
You are also a researcher and a PhD advisor. Do you think that the academia pays enough attention to entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship?
Difficult question. I could say, from an academic perspective, yes of course! There is lot of research in the field of entrepreneurship, what drives entrepreneurs, different entrepreneur profiles and start-up success, financial aid and start-up, effects of social entrepreneurship, corporate venture capital and business angels, for example. But, from a business perspective I could say, not at all! More bridges are needed, academia needs to be faster so the academic discoveries get faster into entrepreneurs to help them to improve, to adapt and to be agile. Personally, I want to get them (academia and business) closer. For example, we are about to create a Launching Lab, a space to host projects, incubate them and provide mentoring. The model to manage will be based on a PhD dissertation, developed by Daniel del Valle one of our professors, where knowledge transfer and synergies are enhanced.
What should UB Business School students who approach BIE expect to find there?
Full support to develop their idea into a start-up. I would tell them: If you are thinking about becoming an entrepreneur but you don’t have an idea, come with us, we have programs dedicated to enhancing creativity and draft your first business model. If you have already an idea and want to develop it, come with us, we have programs to validate your business model and develop first the proof of concept. If you want to continue, we have mentoring programs with experts that will help you to launch your start-up. Need money to start? We have a network of investors eager to find the right team with the right idea, could that be you?