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IFEMA and Expansión hand out the 13th Pyme Awards to the year’s most outstanding companies

Cristina Cifuentes, president of the Autonomous Region of Madrid, presided over the event, accompanied by Javier Ruiz-Santiago, Deputy Minister of the Economy and Competitiveness of the Autonomous Region of Madrid; Maria José Pérez-Cejuela, general director for commerce and consumption of the Autonomous Region of Madrid; Concepción Díaz de Villegas, director general for Commerce and Entrepreneurship at Madrid City Council; Juan Pablo Lázaro, president of CEIM; Ana Isabel Pereda, director of newspaper Expansión; Clemente González Soler, President of the Executive Commitee of IFEMA, and Eduardo López-Puertas, General Manager of IFEMA, among others


This year’s edition had more participants than ever before. More than 162 companies entered for this edition, confirming this as a benchmark event for Spain’s small and medium-sized companies


The winners of the 2017 edition are Solar Mems (Seville), Araven (Zaragoza), Agroamb (Galicia), Santa Teresa (Avila), Smartick (Madrid) and Worklandlife (Madrid), which belong to different industrial sectors, but share the common denominator that they are good examples of business practices

Noticia Prensa IFEMA G

 

Today, Cristina Cifuentes, president of the Autonomous Region of Madrid, presided over the 2017 Pyme Awards ceremony at IFEMA, accompanied by Javier Ruiz-Santiago, Deputy Minister of the Economy and Competitiveness of the Autonomous Region of Madrid; Maria José Pérez-Cejuela, general director for commerce and consumption of the Autonomous Region of Madrid; Concepción Díaz de Villegas,  director general for Commerce and Entrepreneurship at Madrid City Council; Juan Pablo Lázaro, president of CEIM; Ana Isabel Pereda, director of newspaper Expansión; Clemente González Soler, President of the Executive Commitee of IFEMA, and Eduardo López-Puertas, General Manager of IFEMA, among others.

 

This was the thirteenth edition of these awards, which are organised by IFEMA and EXPANSION, and sponsored by American Express, Orange and SGR-Cesgar. They are now fully established as the main event for small and medium-sized enterprises in Spain. This edition broke all participation records again, with a total of 162 candidatures received, as opposed to 143 last years.    

 

The main objective of these awards is to give visibility, recognition and support to the work done by small and medium-sized Spanish enterprises, which are the driving force behind our country, also acknowledging their decisive contribution to articulating the industrial community of the country. Specifically, SMEs account for 98% of the business community, generating 75% of jobs, and representing 65% of Gross National Product.

 

At the 2017 call, the winning companies were Solar Mems (Seville), Araven (Zaragoza), Agroamb (Galicia), Santa Teresa (Avila), Smartick (Madrid) and Worklandlife (Madrid). The jury selected them based on their contribution and work, which has made them benchmarks in the six categories of the competition: Innovation, respect for the Environment, Corporate Social Responsibility, Internationalisation, Job Creation and driving the Entrepreneurial Spirit.

 

All the companies taking part in the event had to comply with the main requirement for being classified as an SME, in other words, they must have fewer than 250 employees; their turnover in the last year must be no more than €50 million, and the majority of their capital must currently be in Spanish hands.  

 

AWARD FOR TECHNOLOGICAL INNOVATION

 

Solar Mems (Seville)

 

This Seville-based company is a world leading manufacturer of solar sensors for small and medium satellites. Its customer portfolio includes institutions like NSA, the European Space Agency and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), as well as multinationals like Google and Airbus. The company, founded in 2009 as a spin off or extension of the University of Seville, now sells in more than 40 countries and has a turnover of €2 million, 90% of which goes outside Spain.

 

The company achieved its first milestone in the space sector by integrating solar sensors on the Nanosat-1B, which was launched into orbit in 2009. “We started early, and that has been an advantage. Our closest competitors in Europe didn’t appear until 2014”, explained Tamara Guerrero, the company's Business Development manager.

 

Another of Solar MEMS’ successes is having entered one of the star sectors of the aerospace industry: megaconstellations of smallsats or microsatellites. “Our device is small and very simple, and measures the incidence of the rays of the sun. But it is essential for smallsats”, commented Guerrero.

 

On the other hand, the technology has numerous earthbound applications, from photovoltaic plants, to controlling unmanned aircraft.

 When it comes to the future, they are already preparing new products, such as a miniature star tracker (a sensor that measures the position of the stars).

 The company's trajectory confirms that being a small company is no obstacle to being a global benchmark in ground-breaking technology.

  

PRIZE FOR INTERNATIONALISATION

 

Araven (Zaragoza)

 

Araven’s started tackling the international market a few years after it was created, in 1976. “The founders travelled European countries by car, carrying their products in the boot”, recalls Javier Villanova, the current managing director of this Zaragoza-based firm, which sells baskets, plastic carts and other kitchen and household goods, focuses on innovation to combine quality with convenience.

These products crossed the Atlantic with the creation of the first affiliate in Mexico in 2007 and the second in the United States, four years later. Precisely, thanks to the opening of the American market and its strong European presence, the company managed get through the most difficult years of the financial crisis.

 

These days, international business accounts for 69% of total turnover, which amounts to €22.5 million. It has customers in more than 60 countries, including large multinationals like Carrefour, Walmart and Tesco.

 

 PRIZE FOR THE ENVIRONMENT

 

Agroamb (Galicia)

 

The history of the Agroamb group is that of two brothers in love with the Galician countryside. Severiano and Álvaro Ónega. In 2000, they decided to turn the family business around, which so far had specialised in farm machinery, to focus on organic waste management to manufacture fertilisers.

“We saw a nascent need to adopt the principles of the European Union. What’s more, we had strong contacts with the farming community”, explained company manager Severiano Ónega.

 

Agroamb has a waste management plant in Ponte de Outeiro, in Castro Rei (Lugo), where it currently processes almost 250,000 metric tons of biological waste every year. It also takes part in the Plantadac project, uses of organic waste to produce biogas and a high quality fertiliser. On the other hand, the company is present in the area of precision, geo-referenced farming, helping to save energy, seeds and fertilisers.

 

It is also a member of the United Nations Global Compact and has sponsored the creation of the Blas de Ponte de Outeiro Foundation, which focuses on sustainable development in the rural environment.

 

CORPORATE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY AWARD

 

Smartick (Madrid)

 

Smartick has developed an online tool with which more than 32,000 children in 70 countries have learned mathematics. Although it is a paid-for platform, “we didn't want children to sacrifice using it just because they couldn't afford it”, said Daniel González, one of the company founders.

 

That’s why it has been given free to several Galician schools with economically disadvantaged children, NGOS in Africa, and to a foundation in Malaga, among others. Thanks to Smartick, a centre in the San Blas district of Madrid, with immigrants of 29 nationalities, has become one of the top five schools in the CDI tests in the Community of Madrid.

 

The company has also collaborated with the Puerta de Hierro Hospital to develop a programme that uses chess to help children with attention deficit disorder and hyperactivity. It also funds a chess club in a deprived area of Malaga, which is González’ home town. He says he is particularly satisfied with the results of this type of action.

 

However, they are not sitting on their laurels, and have announced that they are putting the finishing touches to a new initiative, called Juegoterapia, with which, for every new user, the platform will be made available to a child with cancer who is unable to attend school.

 

JOB CREATION AWARD

 

Workandlife (Madrid)

 

A total of 72 new jobs created in the last two years have made WorkandLife a small, yet essential ally, for reducing the unemployment rate in Spain. Coincidentally, what is now the Ministry of Employment became the first customer for its infant schools for employees,

which are now also used by Santander, the Congreso de los Diputados and five hospitals in Madrid. After the initial growth spurt, the company experienced a slight hiccup during the worst years of the economic crisis. Recovery came in the 2015-2016 school year, when the workforce grew by 50%, from 104 to 157. During the last year, it has continued to grow, and now has 176 employees.

 

WorkandLife is about quality, as well as quantity. According to Claudia Caso, one of the company's founders, they want, people with values, capable of working as a team, and learning continuously, to incorporate new methodologies that educate while entertaining children, by stimulating them with music and games.

 

BEST ENTREPRENEUR AWARD

 

Santa Teresa Gourmet (Avila)

 

In 1988, Julián Gil (Madrid, 1949) received a call that would change his life forever. In those days, he managed a prestigious firm of lawyers based in Fortuny de Madrid. The call was from a childhood friend who asked him to help manage a suspension of payments for Santa Teresa, a small pastry shop in Ávila, of which he was a coowner.

 

Gil undertook an audit that revealed numerous debts and, although he managed to secure financing, the owners pulled out and decided to abandon the business.

This was when the former lawyers, specialised in international law, decided to leave it all behind and take over the business himself. “My mother was very proud to have a son who was a lawyer, and couldn't believe it”, Gil remembers. A brave division, when you think that he has absolutely no experience in managing a business

of this type, beyond the fact that he liked food.

 

It was not long before he realised that the business needed to change tack and move in another direction. The first step was to focus on products that had a longer shelf life than just two days.

 

And so Santa Teresa quince was born, the star product that rescued the company when it became a hit in the cold meat department at El Corte Inglés. These days, the company has more than 100 gourmet products available - gazpacho, creams, egg angel hair, jams, sweets and a variety of ready dishes, etc. - providing 70 jobs and with a turnover of €12 million.

 

One of Gil’s successes has been to focus on healthy eating.

“We do not sell any products that contain additives or preservatives”, he said.

 

Twelve per cent of sales are made abroad, and the company now sells to 20 countries, including the USA and Japan.

 

Gil and the firm have also opened a network of gastronomic areas in Spain, some of its own and some as franchises, where customers can enjoy the extensive variety of gourmet products by the brand.

 

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