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iVigo en la cresta de la ola
Entrevista a @RamonSuarez_ CEO de iVigo Business Space
business: start-up city / vigo
Crest of a wave
The Galician port city is establishing itself as a hub of entrepreneurship, technology, international trade – and exceptional weather. Welcome to ‘Galifornia’.
MONOCLE 149 – December 2021 / January 2022 – Christmas Special
By Carlota Rebelo
Photo Matilde Viegas
Start-up city: Report: We head to Vigo, the Galician city soon to have a high-speed link to southern Europe, and meet the entrepreneurs who got there first.
One of the most popular ways to arrive into Vigo is via a railway link that runs across its estuary. Sheltered by the Cíes islands in the northwest of the Iberian peninsula, Galicia’s biggest city – home to nearly 300,000 inhabitants – has always been shaped by its strong connection to the water. Vigo’s international harbour and commercial port have turned the city into a world-class trading point, housing the planet’s largest fishing port and the EU’s European Fisheries Control Agency.
“This is a good place to be an entrepreneur. It has everything and is in a good moment of expansion. Vigo will be a city to watch over the next few years”.
Vigo is a city with a strategic position on the edge of the Atlantic coast. The border with neighbouring Portugal is only a 30-minute drive away and nearby Santiago de Compostela provides the crucial link with an international airport. “This is a privileged location; we have connections to the whole world and people are starting to learn how to capitalise on that,” says Ramón Suárez, the founder and CEO of iVigo, a cross between a co-working space and business school founded a couple of years ago. “There are too many co-working spaces; it was important to have somewhere where vital skills can be taught, from technology and IT to business planning.”
In the beginning, most of the people at iVigo were from the city but today it welcomes digital nomads from around the world. “It’s an interesting phenomenon; it seems as though the world has discovered Vigo,” says Suárez. “We have entrepreneurs as well as employees from big corporations based in San Francisco, New York, London or Paris.” As the project grows, so has its vision and iVigo is now working on international expansion. “We’re already in talks to open a space in Latin America to capitalise on our shared culture.”
Despite the many entrepreneurs in the city, Vigo will need foreign investment and international business opportunities to take it to the next level.
Vigo has outgrown its industrial label and today can proudly call itself a true business city, on a par with the world’s great metropolises. “We have excellent weather; it’s always sunny here,” says iVigo’s Suárez. “I like to call it ‘Galifornia’ – Galicia meets California. We’re just 15 minutes by bike from the beach and connected to the whole world. What’s not to love?” It seems that business and pleasure do mix after all.