We spoke with Silvia Mazzoli, mentor to new business and author of guides for entrepreneurs, about entrepreneurship, innovation and the digital transformation of the public sector.
How do you think the public sector can help encourage and support entrepreneurship and innovation?
The public sector does have a big role to play in supporting and fostering entrepreneurship and has been successful in the past. For example, they offer high-quality free training programs and mentoring, carried out by business schools that are proven to be effective. In Spain, I would highlight the EOI business school as a good example. Of course, they can also give out grants or other types of financial support. They can even act to advise the entrepreneurs. On the other hand, although there have been advances, the bureaucracy and paperwork that come with starting a business is still something that they should work on streamlining, as well as fiscal policies for self-employed workers and entrepreneurs, at least in Spain. I wish they could take a more agile approach and really make the most of the current and emerging technology to do so.
What do you think about the ongoing initiatives related to the digital transformation of public organizations?
In an increasingly digital society, this transformation is inevitable for government bodies, although they should also be accompanied by clear information, support and help. The goal would be to get a result that is user-friendly. The digital divide does worry me. It could exclude a lot of people, for a wide range of reasons, making it more difficult for them to get the services they need.
What technologies do you think are the most relevant when it comes to transforming the public sector to help it better serve citizens?
Technology related to the management and exchange of data (blockchain, for example), cybersecurity, digital and remote identification (biometrics, for example), user experience (AI), data analytics and developing friendly apps.
Do you think that entrepreneurs and startups can bring value to this process?
Entrepreneurs and startups can always add value to organizational transformation, due to their intrinsic characteristics. Most often they are very specialized and on the cutting-edge. In the case of the public sector, one of the measures included in Spain’s "Digitalization Plan for Public Administrations 2021-2025" plan is the "GobTechLab," which is a citizen laboratory for technological innovation in the public sector. It provides an open space for collaboration for citizens and businesses in the fields of emerging technologies and user experience. They’ve even planned for a startup incubator. We hope that this initiative will be carried out in an agile and effective way, since this collaboration could bring huge benefits to society as a whole.