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XVI ESADE Alumni Annual Conference in Barcelona

05/05/2011 (dd/mm/yyyy) | Barcelona

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XVI ESADE Alumni Annual Conference in Barcelona


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The Conference Centre of Catalonia recently hosted the 16th ESADE Alumni Annual Conference. More than 2,500 ESADE graduates attended this institutional event, which this year focused on recognising entrepreneurial companies that have transformed innovation and internationalisation into the pillars of their growth strategy. 

Xavier Sanchez (Lic&MBA 97 / SEP 08), Director of ESADE Alumni, thanked the numerous alumni in attendance and reminded them that a major reason for the ESADE Alumni network’s existence since 1989 is to contribute value: "The purpose of ESADE Alumni is to keep the doors open so that we can remain connected and be active participants in society". He stressed that resistance to change and the tendency to complain are the greatest enemies of business growth. "In this context, it is essential to innovate and reinvent oneself, if necessary", he observed. 

Miguel Trias (MBA 89), President of ESADE Alumni, then took the floor to discuss internationalisation and technology as drivers of change in business and in society. "A growing number of our alumni are living and working abroad", he noted. "You can do business anywhere, since the world is multipolar. We’re seeing changes in the political scene that won’t take long to change our economic relations with certain countries in our immediate environment". He also pointed out that free thought - a distinctive characteristic of ESADE - provides the breeding ground for innovation. 

Eugenia Bieto (Lic&MBA 73 / PhD 08), Director General of ESADE, then pronounced a few words of acknowledgement and gratitude for her predecessor, Carlos Losada (Lic&MBA 79 / PhD 03), whose work at the helm of the institution was "fundamental" to making ESADE into the entity it is today, "a worldwide point of reference in the training of business leaders who know how to transform ideas into business". Ms. Bieto explained that ESADE invoiced 75 million euros during the 2009-2010 fiscal year, and has achieved 10% year-on-year economic growth over the past decade. During the same period, 1.6 million euros were used for scholarships, she noted. "Thus far", she said, "the school’s strategic framework has involved objectives such as training, research, and contribution to social debate. Now we want to add two more objectives: globalisation and innovation. To do this, we need to have an appropriate organisational culture and a sustainable economic model". 

Ms. Bieto’s remarks were followed by a lecture entitled "Open Innovation Challenges", by Henry Chesbrough, father of Open Innovation, Professor and Executive Director of the Center for Open Innovation at Haas School of Business, University of Berkeley, and Professor in the Department of Information Systems Management at ESADE. Prof. Chesbrough explained that, because the best ideas do not always emerge within our own companies, open innovation allows companies to take advantage of market opportunities that are, in terms of their actual structure, out of their reach. Open innovation is different from closed innovation processes in the sense that, in the latter, all ideas, innovations, research and development are generated within the company, right up to the launch of the final product. In contrast, with open innovation, a company can use external technology and even allow other organisations to develop products using its innovations."In the open innovation model", remarked Prof. Chesbrough, "costs are shared, and if a company collaborates with other companies, innovation costs drop".

Prof. Chesbrough described the combination of internal and external ideas as being essential for success. In his view, research and external development can generate value: there’s no reason why a process that benefits an organisation must necessarily begin inside that particular organisation. "Many multinationals and also smaller companies are reaping the fruits of open innovation", he noted. "In Spain, a good example is Ferran Adrià and his innovative cuisine at El Bulli. My recommendation is to take advantage of market opportunities to detect innovations and commercialise them. Social capital is becoming a crucial element in creating the innovative capital needed to do business. So I urge you to dedicate as much time as you can to sharing ideas and use the best ones to develop new products".

After Prof. Chesbrough’s lecture came the presentation of the ESADE Awards, an initiative of ESADE Alumni that recognises people and organisations whose their careers, activities or services have demonstrated the values that define the foundational spirit of ESADE Business School. The awards were presented by Pedro Fontana (Lic&MBA 74), Chairman of the ESADE Foundation Board of Trustees, Francesc Xavier Mena, Catalan Minister of Enterprise and Labour, and Miguel Trias (MBA 89), President of ESADE Alumni, to the "la Caixa" welfare projects programme, Indra and Desigual

Elisa Durán, Deputy Executive Director of "la Caixa" and Deputy Director General of the "la Caixa" Foundation, accepted an award for her organisation’s commitment to maintaining a high level of investment in social projects despite the current context of financial reform. Ms. Duran declared that, despite the transformation of "la Caixa" into a bank, the entity remains committed to fighting social exclusion and collaborating on education and scientific research. 

Emma Fernández, General Manager of Indra, thanked ESADE - which she called "an economic institution that shares Indra’s ideas in terms of innovation and internationalisation" - for recognising her company. 

Manel Adell
(Lic&MBA 86), CEO of Desigual, and Thomas Meyer, President of Desigual, thanked ESADE for an award recognising the entrepreneurial spirit of one of Catalonia’s most internationalised companies. 

Some closing remarks were given by Francesc Xavier Mena, a Professor of Economics at ESADE who has taken time out of his teaching responsibilities to join the Catalan Government as Minister of Enterprise and Labour. "I responded to the Catalan Government’s call out of a sense of responsibility, but ESADE remains, profoundly, a part of me", said Prof. Mena. "Innovation is one of the pillars that will put us back on the path towards economic growth. Indeed, it has become an obligation for any company that wishes to succeed in the 20th century".

After the academic talks, participants had the chance to catch up with former classmates over cocktails.



Knowing yourself and sharing ideas, dreams and experiences will foster the development of new products or services. This is the basis of Open Innovation, a revolutionary innovation strategy which contemplates breaking a company's internal limits and cooperating with external players to open up new paths to the market. Henry Chesbrough, father of Open Innovation, Professor and Executive Director of the Center for Open Innovation at Haas School of Business, University of Berkeley, and Professor in the Department of Information Systems Management at ESADE, explained the concept in depth during his keynote speech at the XVI ESADE Alumni Annual Conference.


The ESADE Awards 2011 granted to "la Caixa" Welfare Projects, for its leadership and sound management of social projects; to fashion chain Desigual, for its brilliant international track record characterised by entrepreneurial and innovative spirit and a truly unique style; and to the company Indra, for its achievements in the fields of innovation and development, as well as its superb track record with an extraordinary combination of strategic vision and sustainability. The maximum authorities of these institutions collected the prize during the ceremony of the XVI ESADE Alumni Annual Conference.

Doors open

Welcome and presentation by Xavier Sanchez (Lic&MBA 97/ SEP 08), Director of ESADE Alumni

Speech by Miguel Trias (MBA 89), President of ESADE Alumni

Speech by Eugenia Bieto (Lic&MBA 73), Director General of ESADE

"Open Innovation Challenges"
Lecture by Henry Chesbrough, father of Open Innovation

ESADE Awards Ceremony

By Hble. Sr. F. Xavier Mena, Minister for Business and Employment in the Catalan government

Networking cocktail

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Henry Chesbrough te explica las claves de la Open Innovation



Henry Chesbrough, ponente central de la Jornada afirma que “incluso las mayores y mejores compañías no lo pueden hacer todo ellas mismas". Mira el vídeo donde te adelanta algunas de las claves de la Open Innovation.


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The XVI ESADE Alumni Annual Conference in Barcelona titled "Open Innovation Challenges".


More than 2.500 Alumni get together again another year in the most representative meeting of ESADE Alumni.


This year we shared the experience of Henry Chesbrough, father and guru of Open Innovation.



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