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Factsheet for measure ES-2011-1/2665 – measures in Spain

Spain Tech Centre

Desafía San Francisco

Country Spain , applies nationwide
Time period Open ended, started on 01 January 2011
Context Restructuring Support Instruments
Type Legislations or other statutory regulations
Category Reorientation of business activities
– Change of production/Innovation
Author Jessica Durán (IKEI) and Eurofound
Measure added 23 June 2022 (updated 03 November 2022)

Background information

Desafía San Francisco is a public, non-profit initiative (it used to be a public-private initiative until December 2016) launched by ICEX (Spanish Trade and Investments Public Office) and (Spanish Digital Agenda Public Office). Its aim is to help Spanish start-ups enter the world's most innovative technology ecosystems. The initiative encompasses a set of actions for advice and entry into international ecosystems, with the aim of facilitating the entry or expansion of Spanish technology companies in these ecosystems. It offers them advice, training and permanent and continuous support.

Content of measure

Desafía San Francisco supports the internationalisation activities of Spanish ICT-based small and medium-sized companies in the Silicon Valley and in the United States (key market for these ICT-focused SMEs). There are two main measures implemented by the programme: the Immersion programme and the Validation programme.

The Immersion programme is organised around calls, twice per year (one in spring and the other one in autumn). Selected applicants participate in a two-day workshop in Madrid to prepare their two-weeks immersion experience in Silicon Valley. The two-day workshop in Madrid includes specific information on how to better present the company to a US audience, assistance to better prepare and present a business plan as well as specific information related to the US (living costs, requested entry documents, accommodation). The two-week experience includes:

  • Pitch training with world-class experts (mainly practitioners and consultants) from Europe and Silicon Valley.
  • Different workshops (approximately 35) with investors, business experts and legal advisors on different US-related issues such as go-to-market strategies, fundraising and venture capital mechanisms.
  • Tips and advice from successful Spanish entrepreneurs in the Silicon Valley.
  • Networking, one-on-one meetings and mentoring sessions with local experts, executives, entrepreneurs and interested investors.
  • Networking activities with other Spanish entrepreneurs located in RocketSpace in order to share experiences and get useful recommendations.
  • Visits to key companies and universities located in Silicon Valley.

Participants in the Immersion programme have to cover only accommodation and living expenses while in Madrid and San Francisco, whereas for the remaining activities the programme is completely free of charge for participating companies.

The Validation programme is available for Spanish technological companies with a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) but not necessarily interested in validating their company with Silicon Valley experts. This programme provides a direct channel to Silicon Valley to help firms to get a first contact with its mindset and receive feedback on the product with improvement recommendations.

Any Spanish company interested in participating in Desafía San Francisco activities has to fulfil the following requirements:

  • To be a Spanish ICT-based SME, either based in Spain or founded by a Spanish citizen.
  • To have an own technology-based innovative product or service, that is a product or service that can be regarded as new to the market.
  • To be compliant with the legal obligations required for Spanish companies, particularly regarding tax and social security contributions.
  • Participants have to cover only travel, accomodation and living expenses while in Madrid and San Francisco.
  • The employee designated for participation in the Desafía San Francisco must have an English level equal or above C1 (i.e., proficient).

Use of measure

Desafía San Francisco involved over 700 entrepreneurs and 500 companies since its introduction in 2011 (, 2018 ).

The companies supported by this initiative raised more than $150 million (€132.24 million) and created more than 3,000 jobs until 2019. 

Crunchbase, the platform for finding business information, ranks Desafía San Francisco as the first non-equity accelerator in San Francisco and among the top 3 worldwide. 75% of participating companies in the Immersion programme acquired US customers until 2019 ( Desafía San Francisco,, 2020 ). Being involved in the Immersion programme significantly increases the chances of success for an ICT Spanish company when expanding in the US.

Strengths: Desafía San Francisco can be labelled as a very relevant and useful policy measure, a key-instrument for expanding the international activities of the Spanish ICT-based SMEs in the market of Silicon Valley and the US. Desafía San Francisco provides participating companies with significant information and services that facilitate their access to this highly competitive market ( Fornalska-Skurczyńska 2018 ). Partner organisations and the administrators also make use of their own dissemination tools to promote the measure.

Weaknesses: The programme lasts two weeks and introduces companies to the business culture of Silicon Valley, but lacks a longer period of support.

Target groups

Workers Businesses Citizens
Does not apply to workers Applies to all businesses Does not apply to citizens

Actors and funding

Actors Funding
National government
National funds

Social partners

Social partners' role in designing the measure and form of involvement:

Trade unions Employers' organisations
Role No involvement as case not in social partner domain No involvement as case not in social partner domain
Form Not applicable Not applicable

Social partners' role in the implementation, monitoring and assessment phase:

  • No involvement
  • Main level of involvement: Unknown


No involvement.

Views and reactions



  • 01 January 2018: Fornalska-Skurczyńska, A. (2018), 'Support measures for internationalization of European SMEs – a comparative analysis' , Ekonomiczne Problemy Usług Journal, 123/2018, pp.55-67. (
  • 16 January 2018: Born globals and their international value chains: The Netherlands – Grant scheme for demonstration projects, feasibility studies and investment preparatory studies (DHI) (
  • 28 October 2022: Desafía San Francisco (undated), web page (
  • 28 October 2022: (


Eurofound (2022), Spain Tech Centre, measure ES-2011-1/2665 (measures in Spain), EU PolicyWatch, Dublin,


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Disclaimer: This information has not been subject to the full Eurofound evaluation, editorial and publication process.