The Pont-Up Store fair transforms and adapts to “new normality”

The most important entrepreneurship fair in Galicia, which was scheduled to be held between 17 and 19 September in hybrid format, postponed its face-to-face activities after the inclusion of Pontevedra among the areas with special restrictions due to covid-19.  

Pont-Up Store will maintain the training online

A different and strange year for all areas of life and also for the celebration of the seventh edition of the Pont-Up Store. Despite the circumstances, the organizers have decided to articulate their plan B and will maintain all online training programming on the scheduled days, postponing only the face-to-face part (stands, demonstration activities and others) for dates where the restrictions allow to hold the fair with all the guarantees. “We think that end of October could be a possible date”, says the organizer, Pedro Figueroa.  

Pedro Figueroa, Director of the G4 Plus Research Group (Strategic development: organizations and territories) of the University of Vigo, Director of the Urban Observatory of Pontevedra, Director of the PO2 Effect Observatory and member of ECOBAS, is the creator and promoter of the Pont-Up Store. Today we talk to him to know how were the preparations and how are going the changes and the adaptation to the circumstances.  

A big event which requires a great deal of organization throughout the year

“Pont-Up is a macroevent whose organization begins at the start of each year, due to it needs a long period for the design, presentation of applications, selection of participants and definition of the training activities program.  This period extends until the end of July when the final phase is developed with the previous operation and the event or fair itself. The whole process of organization and maturation has a long duration but this year the task has been even more difficult, since the pandemic has forced to modify everything initially exposed and to adapt the format”, explains Figueroa.

“Despite the situation, from the organization we were clear that we wanted to continue with the event and we tried to make it happen with the greatest possible face to face activities, especially the nuclear part which is all related to the promotion and support of the selected undertakings. All the rest of the program, like the training, we thought about making it hybrid to have ease to quickly reconvert it. With this strategy in mind we were able to adapt in a very short time to circumstances, but the changes in the initial approach and the whole organisation that followed meant a huge increase in the workload and higher costs for digitisation and commitment to communication and dissemination”, says the professor.

Novelties for this year in the great fair of entrepreneurship of Galicia  

Every year surprises us with some new area or space, as it is called by the organizers, and is that the Pont-up is adapting to the times and new business ideas, increasingly innovative and novel. “Our tactic is to progressively include different activities and see the reaction of entrepreneurs. If we see that some activity has a powerful content and connects with them, we implant it as a new “space” as a differentiated block. We did before with the Fab Lab, video games, the social economy, and in the last edition with the space of equality and social innovation.  

This year we are committed to internationalization activities, focused on changing habits, the loss of “fears” and learning from internationalization experiences in different countries. More than an operational training, which is also contemplated, it is an exchange so that attendees begin to become familiar and not be afraid when it comes to internationalizing, something that still costs a lot, especially in Galicia. It is also important to note that 35-40% of the candidates come from villages or rural areas. In this field, the Social Innovation Area is important, with very interesting experiences this year in rural revitalization with an international dimension”, says the event director.  

Covid can not with creativity and entrepreneurship

Pedro Figueroa is happy with the results and says that in this edition have had the same number of applications as in the previous year, around 150, of which they selected between 45-50 projects. “We have not lowered the number of candidates and we have not lowered in quality, we could do 2 or 3 Pont-Up without lowering the level. There are usually between 3 and 4 projects out for each selected. Covid can not with creativity and entrepreneurship. On the one hand it is sad not to be able to welcome everyone but, on the other hand, we can be optimistic because of the great capacity of the country to move forward”, says Figueroa.  

The star modality is the free stand combined with a large number of demonstration activities in the central space of the tent. Over the years, and especially since the last edition, sustainability lies in the business proposals or in the core values of the selected projects. The organizers say that this year have also seen a growth of proposals with this component. Making an event sustainable and respectful with the environment is a requirement in which they advance edition after edition.

Pont-Up Store is a space to give visibility and test products and services

“Entrepreneurs especially value promotion and the help to get out of the ignorance of their brand in the market. We help to give visualization and it is also a good space to test products or services, since around 20,000 people pass through here. They will never have the possibility to finance such a massive test”.  

The whole event is free, both for entrepreneurs and for visitors or attendees to training and learning activities. To the training, which due to the circumstances will be online, anyone can also sign up, but for some of them the number of attendees will be limited. In the tent, located in the Plaza de España of Pontevedra, there will be a temperature control when entering and the capacity will be limited to 300 people.  

“Bureaucracy kills creativity and initiative”

In Galicia there are good ideas of entrepreneurship but it is difficult for young people to take the initiative and create their own business. ” We have a good level of innovative projects, but it may lack vocation to the dimension. What entrepreneurs want is less bureaucracy and more coordination of activities and resources for entrepreneurship, facilitating financing. Bureaucracy kills creativity and initiative”, says the director.