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Photo: Boch i Gimpera Foundation.

Cockroaches vs Unicorns: a new meeting place for spin-offs by the University of Barcelona

Yesterday saw the first edition of Cockroaches vs Unicorns, a new meeting place for spin-offs by the University of Barcelona (UB), which aims to be an annual event to share experiences and create synergies between them. The event took place at the Barcelona Science Park, headquarters of the Bosch i Gimpera Foundation, the UB’s knowledge and technology transfer centre.

This first Cockroaches vs Unicorns meeting explained what each of the spin-offs does and talked about shared challenges for the future, such as getting funding, increasing turnover, or issues related to human resources, such as keeping talent. The day ended with a standing lunch for collaborative work.

The event was attended by the rector of the UB, Joan Guàrdia; the chair of the UB Social Council, Joan Corominas; the vice-rector for Entrepreneurship, Innovation and Transfer, Mercè Segarra; and the director of the Bosch i Gimpera Foundation, M. Carme Verdaguer.

The rector of the UB, Joan Guàrdia, commented that “spin-offs are part of the 21st-century university system; All the transfer and innovation generated in these years is part of the university of the future and will have an exponential growth”.

Along the same lines, the director of the Bosch i Gimpera Foundation, M. Carme Verdaguer, highlighted that “the transfer of knowledge to society is the third mission of the University. UB technologies must be part of the solution to the challenges we face in a wide range of fields.”

Cockroaches vs Unicorns

The name of the meeting, Cockroaches vs Unicorns, alludes to the concepts by which start-ups or spin-offs can be defined according to their growth and ability to adapt to change.

Cockroaches, like the insect, are tough, resilient start-ups that withstand changes in the business and economic sector. Their goal is to grow over the long term, step by step, and to increase revenues sustainably. From an investor’s point of view, a cockroach is a low-risk investment (at least compared to a unicorn).

Unicorn companies are those that have more exponential growth in a short period of time, and often focus more on the search for capital than on the product.

23 UB spin-offs

The University of Barcelona has helped to create more than fifty spin-offs throughout its history. It currently has 23 investee companies, which had a combined turnover of €9,355,608 in 2021, 31% more than the previous year, when total turnover exceeded €7 million. The UB’s 23 investee companies provide more than 160 jobs.

Business creation is one of the services offered by the Bosch i Gimpera Foundation as the University of Barcelona’s knowledge, technology and innovation transfer centre. The Business Creation Area was set up in 2001.