PIACE is an innovative and collaborative platform launched by a group of organizations devoted to the promotion of entrepreneurship. This project allows students to set up their own business and count with the support of experts and companies.

To know more about this interesting initiative related to open innovation, we spoke with José Manuel Sánchez, director of the Institute of Secondary Education Campanillas of Málaga, that is the project promoter institution.

P: What is PIACE?

R: PIACE is the new Platform of Open Innovation for Creation of Companies that we have promoted from the Institute of Secondary Education (IES) Campanillas of Málaga. We have other partners to improve relations between secondary institutes and companies and we promote practical experiences tied to innovation and entrepreneurship of our Professional Training students.

It has been funded with the support of the Ministry of Education, through an announcement for innovation projects and it will be developed during the course 2011/12.

P: How does it starts ?

R: It’s fruit of the need to approximate our students to the companies. In Professional Training, part of the success of this kind of training is the direct contact with companies in real labour environment. The theoretical studies complement the Training cycles with the compulsory realization of a Practical module in centres of work and then you get the high degree of labour insertion.

P: Who are the other organizations partners of PIACE?

R: The IES Campanillas act like leader and coordinator of the consortium. Then we have partners such as, the IES Mare Nostrum, the Politécnico Jesús Marín, the Portada Alta of Málaga and Rosalía de Castro of Santiago of Compostela, also the foundations Globalia, FUNDEFOP, BIC Euronova and Novasoft in theTechnological Park of Andalucia (PTA).

All the innovative business plans that the students elaborate will be able to benefit the business services and consulting offered by the CEEI of Málaga BIC Euronova. As well as the Association of Spanish ANCES and the European network BICs EBN. All of them are collaborators that have a wide experience in supporting entrepreneurs.

P: Which are the major aims of this virtual platform?

R: PIACE has several aims, between them we will work for:

  • Promote exchanges of ideas and build business initiatives.
  • Facilitate the self-employment and creation of companies by students.
  • Reinforce relations between Training Centres and companies.
  • Implement entrepreneurship and business initiative in the Training Centres.

P: In this sense how did you conceive the platform to give answer to those aims?

R: PIACE has became a collaborative platform web addressed to students, professors and companies, allowing communication between them to favour training in companies. Through the platform we try to promote development of business ideas and give them support in its development, since the very beginning until set up.

P: Which functionalities are available in the platform?

R: It is a platform web of free access composed by five modules:

  • Open Innovation Module: to publish new business ideas.
  • Collaboration Market Module: collaboration of offers and requests to take part in new companies set up.
  • Business Simulation Module: thought for simulating the main stages of the business.
  • Offers and Requests of FCT Module: offers and requests for searching students in practices.
  • Contents and support to set up companies Module: useful information for creation of companies.

To summarise, PIACE will allow to expose business ideas, to share, to improve, so them become viable. There are resources and information for business initiatives, tests, real company simulators and information to help the creation of business plans.

P: In parallel to the academic course, which activities do you develop to make PIACE known?

R: The development of the web platform has taken one year. It finished in October this year, taking in account all the activities realized to prove and dissemination.

We are now in a phase that we have designated extra-dissemination. In fact, the last 5th of December it was held an event of presentation of the PIACE project to the business sector of Málaga. It took place in the Technological Park of Andalucia (PTA). The project had a big participation and interest from all the employers.

P: To finish, which reflections do you keep, regarding to the promotion of entrepreneurship and technology?

R: We want to take advantage of all the potential that Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) offer to entrepreneurship culture and new ideas development, such as improving knowledge and collaboration between companies and professional training centres. Developing this academic course using the platform is going to be very important to keep working in this sense.

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