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“Our growth strategy for the next few years is firmly established in Europe”

growth strategy Ramón Vallés

Zabala Innovation, a family business that was born to promote innovation and which, with a steady hand, has consolidated a well-considered international growth strategy, can look back on almost four decades of experience. In addition to the eight offices it already has in Spain, it now has offices in Brussels, London, Bordeaux, Paris… and the latest opening in this roadmap has been Lisbon. Ramón Vallés, Head of International Development at Zabala Innovation, analyses in this interview the birth of the company’s thirteenth office and how the family DNA has managed to transcend borders.

Portugal is a country with very favourable conditions for our business. It offers great political and legal stability, it is committed to investment in R&D&I as a catalyst for its development, it has the decarbonisation of the economy as a top political priority… At Zabala Innovation we are a company that is intensive in human capital, and in Portugal there is first class access to talent, as it has a powerful university system. We must not also forget the Portuguese commitment to double the return of European funds in the period 2021-2027, and the existence of many cross-interests between Portuguese and Spanish companies.

Loyalty to our DNA: proximity, proactivity, and excellence. We are committed to our clients, we help them to innovate in a global market, we anticipate their needs with loyalty and efficiency.

We look at the competition, but we do not lose sight of who we are and how we want to serve our customers. We do this through proximity: our customers are not transactional; we want them to see us as a long-term partner who helps them grow. Also, through proactivity in the search and detection of financing opportunities, based on the strategy of the organisations. This is key to maximising existing opportunities. And finally, with excellence that results in the success of the project and the ease with which the client can achieve it.

The objective is to support Portuguese organisations to make a significant quantitative leap into Europe. Portugal is a country that has a lot of room for growth in accessing European funds, especially Horizon Europe. We want to help Portuguese entities to lead more projects and we want to connect them with our clients and other organisations in the rest of Europe.

The internationalisation of a service company is a complex process that does not always find justification in the equation “New markets equals more revenue”.

In our case, the international offices in Europe provide a point of union for our clients that facilitates contact and collaboration with other organisations on new projects. Our role is to be the catalyst for this relationship and to accompany them through the process.

We know where we want to go, but we also assume that we must be flexible and agile to adapt to new challenges and opportunities, which is why I am not in favour of the term “consolidated global vision”.

We will continue to work on our international growth, and within this changing context in our business, the only thing that is immovable is to keep the customer at the centre of our compass and the care of our team.

It is a major challenge, to be honest. In recent years Zabala Innovation has undergone a major transformation and growth process. It is easy to say but growing amid a pandemic and the subsequent crisis is complex, and in the last two years we have grown by 40%.

Maintaining our roots and culture requires a good balance between knowing who we are and where we are going… We continue to think about actions from the perspective of close collaboration that establishes bonds of trust.

Communication and transparency are also key to generating trust and a sense of belonging. And the team plays a decisive role, everyone must contribute and get involved: from the management to the people in any team and headquarters, we are transmitters of culture.

Our growth strategy for the coming years is firmly established in Europe, we have new countries on our horizon. We are no strangers to the war in Ukraine and the shift of the European Union’s centre of gravity towards Eastern Europe. These factors have led us to re-evaluate our roadmap for the coming years.






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