IE University opens a space in the Creativity Center to promote students’ innovative projects and talent.
IE University—The pandemic has flipped our reality upside down, and in turn, opened a range of opportunities for entrepreneurs who have a vision for the future. Economists, philosophers, and leadership experts agree that the post-COVID-19 era is going to signal a boom in entrepreneurship. In a context as complicated as the current one, young entrepreneurs are being called upon to realize their dream of creating their own business to contribute to to the economic recovery.
The IE University Creativity Center—managed by Campus Life—is housed in La Casa de la Moneda, one of Segovia’s cultural and historical landmarks. It now includes a unique space called Area 31, which promotes student talent and innovative projects—an extension of the space that already exists at IE University in Madrid. So Europe’s oldest preserved industrial building now houses an incubator for young companies, which will hopefully become an international benchmark. Leticia Ponce, founder of the IE Startup Lab and a professor with vast experience in training and advising new business ideas, assures that Area 31 “could become Spain’s top university incubator.”
This is the first place for daring entrepreneurs—who are still in training—to compare and explore their projects in a “creative, encouraging and uninhibited” environment. To that end, Ponce emphasizes that all students looking to learn and delve deeper into entrepreneurship are welcome—Area 31 is a space to have dialogues, develop viable businesses and generate a positive impact on society.
Over the past year, face-to-face mentoring sessions moved online. But this has hardly diminished innovation. Every Wednesday students meet virtually to share and grow their business ideas under the careful guidance of their professors.
Mateo Ploquin, a student developing a data privacy startup, defines Area 31 Segovia as an inclusive and immersive space for anyone who wants to enter the world of entrepreneurship. “We discuss and debate, but the most important thing is the support our projects receive,” he says. Marie Queru agrees, “The wide range of ideas between all of the participants is really enriching. Since you learn from others’ experiences, this helps you develop a truly entrepreneurial mindset.” Sergio Sempere, another student, thinks Area 31 is the ideal place to grow professionally as well as to meet like-minded students with similar concerns. “We all help each other using our own resources,” he says.
Interestingly enough, the students involved have renamed the space Area One, because it has “unique value and is different from other entrepreneurial opportunities at IE University.” “It’s a bridge that makes it easier to turn your idea into reality,” says Pary Zadeh, a Bachelor in Business Administration student. Fellow student Álvaro Bermejo agrees, emphasizing that Area One is fundamental “because it helps you take that step forward and really put in the work.”
Area 31 isn’t just a place where good ideas flow: it’s where business proposals are transformed—in most cases—into promising companies, with the chance to participate in the renowned IE Venture Lab. This startup accelerator program is pioneered by IE University’s own acclaimed IE Business School. Through this program, students prepare their businesses in a professional manner so that they can receive external investments. They present to international investors and fellow entrepreneurs at Venture Days in cities like Madrid, Shanghai, Bogotá, Sao Paulo and Mexico City.
Professor Leticia Ponce has big plans for Area 31. Her idea is to foster a truly global village of entrepreneurs on the Segovia campus as well as the Madrid headquarters. To that end, she has organized different activities, ranging from talks with different IE University areas, departments and clubs—such as Women in Business or the IE University Entrepreneur Club—to sessions with successful alumni who can give the best advice on making business dreams come true.