Desafia’s calling: a new immersion program in San Francisco for Spanish scaleups 

- September 27, 2022

The United States and Silicon Valley are key markets for Spanish and European startups. Based on Mind the Bridge Tech Scaleup Spain 2022 report, approximately 8% of the Spanish scaleups are dual companies with headquarters in the United States.

For a startup, expanding its reach to the United States and Silicon Valley is a strategy that definitely pays off, as data from the same Report confirms: Spanish companies that relocate to Silicon Valley usually scale faster and raise more capital (on average, 4 times more than their local counterparts). In Spain, more than 90 (about 13% of the total) of those international champions have been tracked, including tech giants such as AlienVault (acquired by AT&T in 2018).

Those were among the reasons to create Desafia San Francisco, a non-equity public assistance initiative addressed to Spanish startup founders with the greatest potential to successfully tackle the international market, that will launch this November. 

Established by ICEX Spain Trade and Investment (the Government of Spain’s agency for the internationalization of businesses) and (the Government of Spain’s agency responsible for executing and deploying part of Spain’s Digital Agenda), and run this year by the advisory firm Mind the Bridge, it was presented today at MTB Offices in Talent Garden Barcelona, in the presence of the key stakeholders of the region.

A Silicon Valley tour de force

For the startups successfully selected, the Desafia program will consist of a preparation period, followed by an immersive program in Silicon Valley to scale faster and globally. The in-person part of the program, in Silicon Valley, includes 2 weeks of lessons, workshops, meetings, and visits to corporates. After the immersion program, the startups will be engaged in an international network of founders, investors and corporates that counts thousands of members.

“Our main mission is to support companies, train professionals and attract foreign investment to enhance the internationalization of the Spanish economy and accelerate a more inclusive and sustainable economic growth, with high-quality employment – commented José Ignacio Pradas Poveda, Director territorial de Comercio y de ICEX de Cataluña. 

“More than 100 companies have already participated in the 12 editions of the Desafia Immersion Program since 2011: the portfolio companies have in total raised $230M and created over 3000 jobs – added Luis Prieto Cuerdo, Digital Economy Director at “This program can represent a real springboard for the startups of our region: as a matter of fact, among Desafia’s Alumni we can mention three finalists of South Summit’s Global Startup Competition, respectively in 2017, 2018 and 2019: Wallbox, ByHours and Beonprice”.

“The program is not addressed to early-stage entrepreneurs: interested startups must have a product or service of high technological value, a sustainable business model, and ideally, previous international experience – commented Bobby Amiri, Head of Startup Products and Services at Mind the Bridge.

The new immersion session of the 2022 Fall edition will take place from November 28th to December 9th and will be hosted in the MTB Innovation Center in San Francisco, South of Market (SOMA). A second session is scheduled in Spring 2023 and a third in Fall 2023. 

Interested startups can apply by October 12th through the website and join the next public meeting with stakeholders scheduled in Madrid for tomorrow(at Instituto de Empresa).