We interviewed Álvaro Navarro de Andrés, founder, startup investor and professor of entrepreneurship at IE Business School in Madrid.

What opportunities and synergies exist between science and entrepreneuship?

I think the basics of entrepeneurship is to create organizations that solve problems for someone. This someone may be an individual or maybe a community or maybe another business. And the idea is that to solve those problems, you require innovation, and innovation is going to require some basic science behind it.

You need to understand, for example, if you want to create a bridge in order to cross the river is going to be very important for you to understand from the point of view of business or from the point of view of your customers, why do your customers want to cross the river before you actually decide what type of bridge you´re going to develop. And maybe, you want a bridge only for people. You also want it for cars and trucks or you want it for trains.

Obviously, there´s a lot of engineering involved in creating that bridge, but behind the engineering is going to be the new science, the science that will make that bridge lighter or that bridge easier to produce or that bridge more resistance to time and weather and so on.

So if in the end, what you´re trying to build is a bridge is an organization, science would be like the foundation blocks of that business you are creating.

What are the keys to creating successful business models from science?

Similarly, if we assume that the essence of a sustainable business model is the idea that you would create something of a lot of value, that someone is willing to pay for it in some form, and that way you would be able to strike a value from it in order to make the business model sustainable.

Now, from the point of view of science, I think science can help us develop business model, develop products that will be new to the market; that will be a new technologies that will be more efficient, cleaner.

We could talk about now, that everything has to do with sustainability, the science to make our products more sustainable is essential if we want to accommodate to the taste of the new consumer who is going to ask from us that we provide them products that have a less carbon footprint or that they find that in the in all the steps and not only in the design but also in the manufacturing and in distribution of the products in every single step that it will be environmentally sustainable.

For example, it is impossible to certify that your business is environmentally sustainable if there is not if there is not a real science behind it saying what´s really your carbon footprint or what are the elements that are actually making your products sustainable or not.

How important do you think scientific innovation is in corporate business?

I do think that traditionally, and I think this is why is very important that you have research centers like this (CIC energiGUNE) that, in my opinion or the way I understand it, is the importance of technological transfer.

The idea that you are going to create the basic science, to create the technologies that will be able to become real innovations because they can actually go into the market. As opposed to that, and I´m sure that many people may not agree with this, I think many, many universities are doing a lot of research and they are doing fundamental research and there´s a lot of publishing, and that´s absolutely essential. But very often, the philosophy or the incentives even of the researchers at the universities or the research centers like that are not aligned necessarily with what the market wants.

And I think by having these type of institutions such as CIC energiGUNE, that are actually trying to be at the crossroads or at the interface between science and the businesses and creating this new products and these new technologies is absolutely essential.

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