South Summit, Madrid, offers students a creative space to develop business ideas

South Summit 24, co-organised by IE University, Madrid, showcased the work of talented young entrepreneurs

Published - June 22, 2024 11:38 am IST

A view of the hall in IE University where entrepreneurs showcased their start-ups during the South Summit.

A view of the hall in IE University where entrepreneurs showcased their start-ups during the South Summit. | Photo Credit: R. SUJATHA

The buzz in the hall at La Nave in Madrid was impressive. For two-and-half days, lay observers were witness to animated discussions among entrepreneurs, young students and investors. While the beehive buzzed in the background, entrepreneurs shared their experiences in closed auditoria during the South Summit, co-organised by IE University, Madrid. During the inauguration of the 13th edition on June 4, Maria Benjumea, president and founder of South Summit, announced that the first Asian summit will be held in South Korea from September 25 to 27, 2024.

“Our motto (for South Summit 24) is Human by Design. We are convinced that all technologies are key to the evolution of society and that the person is at the centre and is the creator of these technologies. In the new era, it is more crucial than ever to ensure that technology not only improves our lives but does so inclusively, ethically, and sustainably by putting people at the centre,” she told an audience comprising representatives from across Europe, Canada and South America.

The summit showcased start-ups that helped the community they emerged from and beyond by working in healthcare (developing apps for visually challenged persons to helping diagnose children and adults with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)) or in the sphere of human resources (developing networks for aspirants to find employment that fitted their skillsets or helping students learn through their network of guides and lessons) and those that worked with civic bodies to improve community living.

Of the 100 start-ups shortlisted, around 10 were selected across various categories for scaling up. One of the winners was Spanish start-up NaviLens, which helps persons with visual impairment. Difficulty in using traditional signage immobilises them in unfamiliar environments. The start-up has developed an app with which the user can scan a QR code and get the information contextualised.

Joinrs, says Lodovico Graepel, project coordinator and founder, works in the Human Resources sphere and tries to match skillsets of job searchers with companies at home. The employees are primarily in the 20-35 age group and work from Brazil, Colombia, Albania and the UK, explained Francesca Capozzo, a junior marketing specialist. Graepel adds that the company has “a lot of users (including) students from India. But everyone wants to come to Europe and the U.S. to work.

Another interesting start-up presented was Penseum, which has developed an AI-powered platform that turns study material into interactive guides. Launched in September 2023 in Canada, it has 20,000 users across the world. “In India and Brazil, we have 10 million views on our videos. Students get in touch through Instagram. It is free for students while institutions are charged,” explains Kamyar Hosseini, the co-founder.

Nova Talent — a recruitment start-up, based in Italy, Spain and Sweden — aims to connect talented individuals with businesses. This professional network group has around 20,000 members and is meant for students and professionals, says Celia Rico Sanchez-Mateos, Marketing and Communications Associate. Asked about the low placement numbers (just 1000 have been placed), she says, “Since they are already in high paying jobs they don’t want to change professions.”

Bitsphi Diagnosis aims to transform the standard of ADHD neuro-diagnosis. Children are given a cognitive task while an EEG collects data from the brain. This is processed in a cloud-based backend and a comprehensive report is offered to healthcare professionals for an accurate diagnosis. However, says Gerardo Galvez Garcia, scientific project manager, this is a prototype and clinical testing is yet to be done.

Gerardo Galvez Garcia, scientific project manager of Bitsphi

Gerardo Galvez Garcia, scientific project manager of Bitsphi | Photo Credit: Sujatha R.

The summit also hosted sessions in which speakers explained the importance of staying local but garnering global attention. South Summit is a platform to promote development of business opportunities in the innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem. South Summit, Madrid, has hosted more than 36,000 start-ups in 12 editions and its start-up competition has produced seven unicorns. It has produced more than 1,000 finalist start-ups with a survival rate of 90% and more than $15,007 million in investment, a University statement said.

The writer was in Madrid at the invitation of IE University.

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