Here is a report on the Nordic Cleantech Showcase in Pamplona generously organized and sponsored by Spanish venture capital company/regional development organisation Sodena (yes they are both of those in one!), who had put together a great program for the participating companies.

7/3 2012

We visited Sodenas office where we were given an introduction to the regional government of Navarras strategies for further improvement of the quality of life of its inhabitants. An essential part of these strategic plans is a very offensive focus on cleantech investments, both in terms of roll-out and in terms of venture capital. Sodena is one of the tools for achieving the strategic goals and an array of policy incentives are also in place to further boost cleantech developments. Sodena as an organisation is not only the official business promotion organisation of Navarra but also a VC investor. As such they do not only consider cash returns but also the impact on the strategic goals of the region.
Before lunch we went by bus trough what must truly be renewable energy heaven. Every other mountaintop has windmills spread out over them and on literally every other corner you will see blades waiting to be assembled or solar panels waiting to be installed. Next up was CENERs (the National Renewable Energy Centre) main office and laboratory in Sarriguren. At this facility research, testing and validation within some of the main cleantech focus areas is done; PVs, solar thermal, bio energy and energy in buildings.

Next stop was the Wind Turbine Test Laboratory in Sanguesa. In this facility Cener is able to test the strength and durability of the rotor blades of a wind turbine in full scale. This lab is if not the, than clearly among the, world leading in testing of entire wind technologies. This means among other things, to be able to simply whip entire blades trough air at high speed. A somewhat scary sight… Adding to this there are 6 nearby accredited field test sites where you can do tests, validation and research on all parts and aspects of wind turbines in full scale.

Also located at the Wind Turbine Test Laboratory is an experimental version of a micro grid.

Next stop was the 2nd Generation Biofuels National Research Center in Aoiz. This brand new facility is a pilot scale test factory for wood gasification.

8/3 2012

Our hosts Sodena had set up a number of meetings with local companies and organizations for each participating company. We were very impressed both with the numbers and the quality of the meetings that were set up. Professional translators had been assigned to the meetings where needed.

The Navarra region took us in with open arms, and gave us a good idea of what to expect if you want to do business there – a thriving cleantech innovation environment in a region that is economically very sound despite current financial turmoil. Navarra has seen companies such as Gamesa and Acciona take off during its renewable energy boom. Notably, Sodena was an early investor in both. Needless to say, these where to great success stories, that have led to an appetite for more investments in this space. Let’s hope the next ones will come out of the Nordics!

The official group photo