Interview to Julián López-Arenas – Chamber of Commerce
Julián López- Arenas will explain in further detail the Acelera pyme initiative.
The Acelera pyme programme is an initiative aimed at building the benchmark ecosystem for the digital transformation of national and international SMEs.
One of its main actions is the creation of a network of Acelera pyme offices which, in collaboration with different entities, will be physical and virtual spaces in which to raise awareness and support Spanish SMEs, as well as the self-employed and entrepreneurs on the advantages and innovative methodologies to optimise the operation of their businesses, through the incorporation of ICTs.
In this regard, RED.es has signed an agreement with the Spanish Chamber of Commerce for the creation and development of 60 Acelera pyme offices, to promote the digital transformation of small and medium-sized enterprises.
We had the opportunity to talk to Julián López-Arenas, Director of Competitiveness at the Spanish Chamber of Commerce, who could explain the initiative in more detail.
- From your point of view, to what extent do these types of initiatives contribute to the digital transformation of SMEs and therefore of the economy? (00:18-03:46)
Initiatives such as Acelera pyme are fundamental when it comes to supporting SMEs in their digitalisation process. Thereby, we must take advantage of them.
Currently, in the current global crisis, we need to support and encourage SMEs to start their digital transformation process.
It is evident: either there is a level of digitalisation in companies, or their survival may be questioned, because these aspects are completely related. We need Spanish SMEs to be as digital as possible, and those that have not yet begun this process must do so with the resources and institutional support that will be made available to them.
SMEs should be aware of the benefits of incorporating technology into their business processes, however, with the current health crisis and understandably so, most of these companies are focusing their efforts, in the short term, on running their business and do not see investment in digitisation as a pressing need.
Therefore, all the public effort, together with aid and advice, will make companies more competitive, efficient, and able to compete in global environments.
It should be borne in mind that the crisis will pass, and we will return to a relative normality where our SMEs and companies will have to compete in a more globalised environment and, in this sense, the more digitised they are, the more competitive they will be.
- What does the agreement signed by the Spanish Chambers of Commerce with Red.es consist of and what services will SMEs be able to benefit from? (03:47-07:55)
The Acelera pyme offices are a very important mechanism because they will offer individualised advice on how SMEs can tackle their digital transformation. In addition, they will carry out a strong activity of awareness, communication, dissemination, and promotion of the implementation of ICT solutions to improve competitiveness.
Their main objective is to raise awareness of the need for companies to go digital. Many may already be aware of the importance of digitisation processes, but they do not address it. The objective is to encourage them to do so. They also need to be trained and they need to know that, to tackle this process, they need a digitisation plan, and this requires an investment.
Moreover, SMEs can benefit from public aid for investment in their digitalisation, but part of it will have to be invested from their own resources and they must consider the payback period, because the aid will not fully cover these costs.
In addition, the offices will be seen as an information point for all types of financial aid offered for the digitisation of SMEs. Aid may be provided by the state, for example by Red.es, the Chambers of Commerce or the Secretary of State for Digitalisation and Artificial Intelligence. Furthermore, there will be regional aid, local aid, in regional councils or town councils.
We believe that, with the Next Generation EU funds, over the next two years, the different state administrations will launch several initiatives with the aim of improving the digitalisation of Spanish companies and an office that, among its functions, will identify which of these projects may be necessary to improve their competitiveness, which will be of great help.
- Where can SMEs find out about Acelera pyme offices or where can they find these offices? (07:58-11:18)
There are two types of Acelera pyme offices, although both will offer the same services. The first type of office is that managed by Red.es, around 27. The second type of Acelera pyme office is physically located in the Chambers of Commerce.
From the moment of their incorporation, the SMEs are assigned to a chamber of commerce demarcation. Knowing this demarcation, the only thing the company must do is to contact the Chamber of Commerce that corresponds to it. However, not all the 85 existing Chambers of Commerce will be Acelera SME offices.
Moreover, during 2021, 35 Chambers of Commerce will be Acelera pyme offices. In general, these will be in the large cities or cities with the highest business census and, in 2022, 25 additional Acelera pyme/Chambers of Commerce offices will be incorporated in other areas, with the intention that this number of offices will increase until there are more than 60.
For a company to find out if there is an Acelera pyme/Chamber of Commerce office in its area, it must call the Chamber of Commerce in its area or consult the Acelera pyme portal, the website of the Chambers of Commerce or the website of the Spanish Chamber of Commerce, where all the existing offices will be listed.
The aim is that no micro, SME or self-employed person is left without going to an office that can advise them on these new digitalisation challenges.