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  • Writer's pictureDSF

Desafia’s calling

A unique opportunity for Spanish tech startups to scale faster and globally with an immersion program in San Francisco.

  • The public initiative established by ICEX and opens to applications for the next batch of the 2022 edition, run by the innovation advisory firm Mind the Bridge and hosted in its Innovation Center in San Francisco, South of Market (SOMA).

  • The program, presented in Barcelona today in the presence of the key stakeholders of the Region, represents a comprehensive opportunity for startups to learn from workshops and activities plus the chance to explore Silicon Valley, generate networking opportunities and nurture an entrepreneurial mindset unique to this region.

  • Interested startups can apply by October 12th through the website and join the next public meeting scheduled in Madrid tomorrow. The 2-weeks immersion program will take place in San Francisco from November 28th to December 9th.

  • Since 2011, there have been 12 editions of the Immersion Program: the portfolio companies have in total raised $230M and created more than 3000 jobs.

Barcelona, September 27th - Desafia San Francisco, the non-equity public assistance initiative addressed to Spanish startup founders with the greatest potential to successfully tackle the international market, will launch this November.

Established by ICEX Spain Trade and Investment (the Government of Spain’s agency for the internationalization of businesses) and (the Government of Spain’s agency responsible for executing and deploying part of Spain’s Digital Agenda), and run this year by the advisory firm Mind the Bridge, it was presented today at MTB Offices in Talent Garden Barcelona, in the presence of the key stakeholders of the region.

For the startups successfully selected, the Desafia program will consist of a preparation period, followed by an immersive program in Silicon Valley to scale faster and globally. The in-person part of the program, in Silicon Valley, includes 2 weeks of lessons, workshops, meetings and visits to corporates. After the immersion program, the startups will be engaged in an international network of founders, investors and corporates which counts thousands of members.

The new immersion session of the 2022 Fall edition will take place from November 28th to December 9th and will be hosted in the MTB Innovation Center in San Francisco, South of Market (SOMA). A second session is scheduled in Spring 2023 and a third in Fall 2023.

Interested startups can apply by October 12th through the website and join the next public meeting with stakeholders scheduled in Madrid for tomorrow (at Instituto de Empresa).

Our main mission is to support companies, train professionals and attract foreign investment to enhance the internationalization of the Spanish economy and accelerate a more inclusive and sustainable economic growth, with high quality employment - commented José Ignacio Pradas Poveda, Director territorial de Comercio y de ICEX de Cataluña and José María Blasco, Director de Infraestructuras, Sanidad y TIC en ICEX - The program represents a comprehensive opportunity for startups to learn from workshops and activities plus the chance to explore Silicon Valley, generate networking opportunities and nurture an entrepreneurial mindset unique to this region.”

Twice a year in this initiative a cohort of Spanish startups is in fact invited to participate in a two-week Immersion Program, where C-Level officers and founders can

participate in workshops, meetings and activities that not only inspire but help assess the

current strategic position of the company, plot improvements to ramp-up growth, define a

roadmap based on strategic and tactical considerations and start working on it.

In particular this year, under the guidance of Mind the Bridge, the program will be developed as follow: during the first week, participating startups will have the opportunity to learn about the US business landscape and Silicon Valley Ecosystem, refine their storytelling, value proposition and pitching specific to a VC audience in the US, build strong networks with VC, corporate leaders and mentors and visit a corporation born out of startup culture. The second week will be focused on understanding how to compete globally and grow revenue, ensuring IP is protected, learning how to build a strong cross cultural multi-functional team, meeting other startup founders and grabbing insights from their journey.

More than 100 companies have already participated in the 12 editions of the Desafia Immersion Program since 2011: the portfolio companies have in total raised $230M and created over 3000 jobs - added Luis Prieto Cuerdo, Digital Economy Director at - This program can represent a real springboard for the startups of our region: as a matter of fact, among Desafia’s Alumni we can mention three finalists of South Summit's Global Startup Competition, respectively in 2017, 2018 and 2019: Wallbox, ByHours and Beonprice”.

In particular, Wallbox creates smart charging systems able to communicate between the vehicle, the network, the building and the charger. The company was able to raise $167,5M. ByHours is a hotel microstay platform offering stays by the hour: guests book the hotel for a specific time of arrival and a duration of 3, 6, or 12 hours. This solution collected a total of $18,5M. Finally, Beonprice, based on advanced Big Data technology, facilitates and optimizes price management decisions in the hotel industry: they have been backed with $6,8M.

The program is not addressed to early-stage entrepreneurs: interested startups must have a product or service of high technological value, a sustainable business model, and ideally, previous international experience - commented Bobby Amiri, Head of Startup Products and Services at Mind the Bridge - Together with ICEX and we will select 8-10 participant startups per edition to support them in a lifetime experience in Silicon Valley, Goal? To help them speed up their growth and scale into larger tech companies.”

The United States and Silicon Valley in particular are a key market for Spanish and European startups. Based on Mind the Bridge Tech Scaleup Spain 2022 report, approximately 8% of the Spanish scaleups are dual companies with headquarters in the United States. For a startup, expanding its reach to the United States and Silicon Valley is a strategy that definitely pays off, as data from the same Report confirms: Spanish companies that relocate to Silicon Valley usually scale faster and raise more capital (on average, 4 times more than their local counterparts). In Spain, more than 90 (about 13% of total) of those international champions have been tracked, including tech giants such as AlienVault (acquired by AT&T in 2018).

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ICEX Spain Trade and Investment is a national public business entity whose mission is to promote the internationalization of Spanish companies to contribute to their competitiveness and add value to the economy as a whole, as well as attract investment to Spain. It provides its services through a network of 31 Provincial and Territorial Directorates of Commerce in Spain and almost 100 Economic and Commercial Offices abroad. It also has 29 Business Centers abroad, which offer Spanish companies temporary infrastructure as incubators for internationalization. is a public corporate entity attached to the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Digital Transformation (MINECO) that reports to the Secretary of State for Digitization and Artificial Intelligence (SEDIA). We develop programs to boost the digital economy, innovation, entrepreneurship, training for young people and professionals and support for SMEs through the promotion of efficient and intensive use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT).

Mind the Bridge

Mind the Bridge is a global open innovation platform, providing services and products to corporates and local startup ecosystems. It has offices in San Francisco, Barcelona and Seoul, with a presence in Los Angeles, New York and Milan. Mind the Bridge has been working as an international bridge at the intersection between startups and corporates since 2007.

Mind the Bridge scouts, filters, and works with 10,000+ startups a year supporting global corporations in their quest with open innovation initiatives that translate into curated deals with startups (POCs. procurement, investments, and/or acquisitions). It also provides corporates with advisory services and benchmarking on innovation strategies and structures.

Mind the Bridge developed MTB Ecosystem, a AI-powered open innovation matching platform.

Mind the Bridge, in collaboration with the International Chamber of Commerce, the 100 y.o. institution representing more than 45M businesses worldwide, annually runs the “Corporate Startup Stars” awards, which rates and awards the most ‘startup-friendly’ global corporates.

For more info: | @mindthebridge

Media contacts


Tel. 91 349 6108

Tel. 91 2127620

For Desafia San Francisco

Serena Orizi, PR & Communications - Mind the Bridge

+39 3204205558


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