The events were held at Continent 8’s highly secure Data Centre located in a tunnel inside the depth of the Rock, and attended by leading business executives and government representatives, including the new Minister for Business, Vijay Daryanani, and HE Governor of Gibraltar, as well as Continent 8’s Executive Director, David Black (who flew especially from Dublin) and General Manager in Gibraltar, Luis Garcia, who provided a tour of Continent 8’s impressive facility.
Drawing on the experience that Benefit Business Solutions’ directors have with the Israeli market – a country well known for being the ‘Innovation Nation’ and a place from where many technology start-ups have evolved, the Rocket Accelerator is being formed in partnership with Gold Ventures Incubator (GVI), a company which already operates two start-up incubators in the Tel Aviv area, and similar accelerator programs in 8 countries around the world, with their local partners.
GVI’s CEO – Mr Jacob (Kobi) Kalderon – arrived in Gibraltar from Israel for the events and presented to attendees his vision and model of how the Accelerator will operate, along with the global network of investors, mentors and deal flow of start-up companies that GVI brings, not only from Israel but from other parts of the world too. For his part, Eran Shay, Managing Director of Benefit Business Solutions, commented: “Gibraltar offers some unique benefits to start-up companies that want to test trial their solutions in the real world, prior to penetrating the big markets. The small size of the jurisdiction means that processes that take years or many months in the big countries can be done here in a much shorter period due to fewer layers of bureaucracy and easy access to top decision makers, be it in Government or in the Private Sector. This fast time to market, along with the fact that Gibraltar complies with EU Directives and British standards, means that start-ups can easily leverage their success here in order to penetrate the bigger markets such as the UK, Europe and beyond. These inherent advantages are here to stay, Brexit or no-Brexit, and our Rocket Accelerator program will provide the ideal platform through which start-ups can utilise these benefits”.
Processes can be done in a much shorter period due to fewer layers of bureaucracy and easy access to top decision makers.
The Accelerator model also provides investors with a safer way to invest in Venture Capital since the start-ups that will participate, will first undergo an intensive process of evaluation, analysis and due-diligence, to ensure they are of the right fit and match to Gibraltar. The cherry-picked start-ups will then enjoy being closely ‘hand-held’ by a network of mentors, consultants and other professionals who will be responsible to steer each start-up in the right direction, connecting them both to investors and to larger corporates where their solutions can be implemented. This means investors who are looking to invest in start-up companies, will have more comfort knowing their investments are being guided, monitored and managed by a team of external professionals with proven track record in Venture Capital. This in turn improves the chances of the start-up companies to grow and succeed, thereby producing a higher success conversation rate and better Return on Investment to investors.
According to Ayelet Mamo Shay, co-founder and Business Development Director of Benefit Business Solutions, “One of the objectives of the Accelerator is also to foster a culture of innovation in Gibraltar, and by seeing exciting tech start-ups coming to Gibraltar, young people will get the inspiration and aspiration to become entrepreneurs and develop innovative businesses. It will also stimulate a Venture Capital culture locally, where investments are being made, either from within or from outside Gibraltar, in Gibraltar based tech start-ups. Moreover, local corporates will enjoy access to the latest technologies and can further enhance their relationship with the start-ups that would come, in ways that can be useful for their own operational needs. It is therefore a project in which Gibraltar as a whole could benefit”.
It is important to distinguish between a technology Incubator and an Accelerator. At an Incubator Program start-ups arrive with just an idea or technology concept, and through the guidance of the Incubator they are able to turn this idea into a business concept and reach what is known as the Minimum Viable Product phase, where they have a prototype or some proof of concept, and may have been able to raise some initial funding (pre-seed). At the Accelerator phase, these start-ups actually implement their solutions in the real world, at their potential client’s site, and through intensive mentoring and consulting processes, along with greater investment, they are able to scale-up and enhance their product to reach commercialisation stage, where they are penetrating various markets.
It will move Gibraltar closer to becoming the ‘Silicon Rock’.
Start-ups arriving at the Accelerator would have already gone through the Incubator phase at their home countries and would hence be much better placed to utilise the fast time to market advantage that Gibraltar offers. In terms of the premises where these start-ups will actually sit, the idea is that the Rocket Accelerator will utilise one of the existing shared-working-space facilities available in Gibraltar, thereby saving the need to fit-out and equip its own office space.
The Rocket Accelerator will be a pivotal component in Gibraltar’s economic diversification to the technology sector. It will attract start-ups in a variety of sectors, such as Fintech, CleanTech, software development, smart-city solutions, InsurTech, maritime technologies and even Biotech. It will attract a pool of tech-savvy professionals and will move Gibraltar closer to becoming the ‘Silicon Rock’.