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SPAIN - Economy

Jorge Barrero

General Director, COTEC


Jorge Barrero is General Director of COTEC.

"We use a proprietary methodology "The COTEC Key" that combines working with experts (those who know what to do), influencers (those who say what to do), and facilitators (those who know how to do it)."
TBY talks to Jorge Barrero, General Director of COTEC, about innovation in Spain, its recent 2023 circular economy report, and goals for the coming year.
Could you share some key initiatives or projects by COTEC promoting innovation in Spain and their impact on the innovation ecosystem?

We were born more than 30 years ago to analyse and promote innovation in Spain. At that time innovation was understood from a science-technology-business paradigm. Now we have a broader vision of innovation (any change based on knowledge that adds value) and a conviction that it is not enough to generate knowledge, as we us to do in the past, it is necessary to accompany it so that it has an impact, to bring it to the political, media, educational and business agenda.

How does COTEC use insights from its report to inform policy, support decision-making, and drive innovation strategies in Spain?

We use a proprietary methodology “The COTEC Key” that combines working with experts (those who know what to do), influencers (those who say what to do) and facilitators (those who know how to do it).

How does COTEC assess the environmental performance of Spanish companies based on its recent 2023 circular economy report?

We believe that the Circular Economy is the greatest possible innovation because it does not affect one product, company or sector but the whole model and it requires not only technology but also changes in strategy, organisation and behaviour. We have been working since 2017 on different levels of analysis and political advocacy.

What key insights emerged from the Gijón Innovation and Inequality Forum, and how does COTEC plan to utilize innovation to address societal challenges like inequality?

Innovation is a powerful tool for combating inequalities and, at the same time, a factor that generates inequality when it is not disseminated quickly, fairly, and inclusively. There are always differences between those who generate knowledge, those who have access to its applications and the rest. The objective is to try to ensure that these differences do not become chronic. We saw it with the covid vaccine, we are seeing it with AI, and we will see it more and more frequently. This dual approach, which involves light and shadow, prefigures the work of the COTEC Foundation for the coming years and already occupies an important part of our agenda, and this reflection has an annual meeting point at the Gijon Forum.

How do COTEC’s international collaborations with COTEC Italia and Cotec Portugal support its mission of promoting innovation and Marca de España?

Southern Europe shares a culture, a way of life and also certain problems, so it is logical that we have a common voice on innovation, that is the aim of the alliance. This year we will hold a summit on technological sovereignty. It will be chaired by our three heads of state.

COTEC recently presented its study “Responsible use of generative AI.” What are the main risks and opportunities of these technologies in the business environment?

No one doubts the profound and transversal impact of AI on our civilisation, its undoubted ability to add value and solve problems. We also sense that there are people, companies, sectors, and territories that will take longer than others to discover and take advantage of this technology. But what is happening here and now with Generative AI? How, by whom and for what purpose is it being used in Spanish companies? To answer these questions, the COTEC Foundation for Innovation organised a working group, led by Repsol and Tecnatom, in which more than 40 organizations took part. The result is a guide that is being massively used, with more than 30,000 views in just one month.

What are COTEC’s priorities and aspirations for the coming years?

Our main challenges for the next three years are to improve the impact of the institution—and our ability to measure it—and to personalise the return we offer to each of our 100-plus members.




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