The Innovation hun of Southern Europe

in Features

Gibraltar, the British Overseas Territory that is known for its Barbary apes, friendly people and nice weather is also at the center of some of the most innovative developments within Technology. People often consider the keystones of the Rocks economy as professional services, legal and accountancy, financial services, insurance and of course our gaming and payments industries. However, whilst we proudly announce all these services to the world, there is one thing that we do not seem to focus on: Gibraltar has become a true innovation hub. Over the last 20 years we have seen a record growth of new companies and new ideas coming out of Gibraltar and its residents have never shouted from the roof tops about it.

Gibraltar is the birthplace of many new ideas, companies, and technology with a lot these being linked to the traditional businesses we have already mentioned. These industries attract a global talent base who bring fresh ideas, skills and funding which drive the Innovation Hub. This Hub is not a place like Silicon Valley, but it is alive and well in the myriad of small offices, coffee shops and bars across the rock. In these places people meet, socialize, discuss problems, create ideas, and then innovate solutions. This takes place in the midst of daily life, often unseen and unrecognized.

The successive Gibraltar Governments over the last 25 years have encouraged new and emerging industries to move and thrive within Gibraltar. Although online Gaming is commonplace today on the rock, there was a time when the Government saw an opportunity to develop a regulated jurisdiction which led to the Gold standard jurisdiction which it is today. What followed was the set up or move to Gibraltar of many leading companies which brought investment, talent, and innovation onto the Rock. This support extends to all cornerstone industries such as Insurance, Professional services, Financial Services, gaming and now Fintech and DLT. 

When the Gibraltar Government actively support new and developing industries it gives confidence to investors and talent that Gibraltar is a great place to set up and operate.  The recent drive into Fintech, giving new ideas and creativity the opportunity to expand is such an example of this success. This approach has seen an incredible growth of the Fintech industry and the creation of the first cryptocurrency exchange backed by a government by Gibraltar Blockchain Exchange (now bought by Mine Digital) plus many new and evolving companies. To support these companies a secondary support industry has sprung up consulting in cutting edge ways which traditional consultants have so far been unable to embrace.

There are a lot of good stories coming out of Gibraltar. Not only have we provided a solid platform to build businesses like Lottoland, Lottomart, Pokerstrategy, Digital Asset Management Limited, and Etruvian but we keep seeing new software being developed in Gibraltar as well. For example, the App Queue Wisely and the app from Cobovec – SYNERGISE, which is a new app aimed at young people aged 15 to 30 with Special Educational Needs, Social, Emotional & Mental Health, behavioural difficulties, health issues, and those who are generally disengaged from education. There are also plenty of other companies that innovated and although not active anymore, their technology, talent and products live on in other companies. 

What all these companies have in common, is that they have attracted specialized skilled workers to Gibraltar who have been able to thrive in the unique business environment on the Rock where Global CEOs rub shoulders with people of every level and experience. The pool of expertise of high-quality employees in Gibraltar is ever growing because it is linked to the welcoming multicultural environment we have. This means that with a lot of creative people settling here and a social environment that encourages Interaction between the different industries, problems and challenges are openly discussed and innovative solutions are developed. 

The support network has also continued to evolve from traditional Industry bodies such as the GFSB and GBGA to Social platforms like Startup Grind and Girls in Tech which have developed successful chapters in Gibraltar – creating more opportunities for people to get together, share & create ideas.  It is this ability, in such a limited space, to bring bright minds together which creates a breeding ground for innovation. The gathering of a large percentage of High-Net-Worth Individuals means that there is a constant ‘Dragons Den’ of informal pitching going on behind the doors to offices and homes. These pitches develop ideas and concepts into real life companies, technologies, and products. This technology is often picked up by the companies based in Gibraltar and absorbed into major organizations, which  could be one reason that innovation is not seen outside of those organizations and companies.  

Today, the Innovative hub is continuing to grow and thrive and although the toll of COVID-19 on the Rock has been high, it has allowed innovation to thrive in the homes and terraces across Gibraltar. As the Innovation Hub gets stronger, we need to start celebrating this unique aspect of Gibraltar and its people and tell everyone. There has always been lots of opportunity here in Gibraltar, we often just need to open our eyes, embrace it and innovate to take advantage of it, which is what we do very well.

Paul Foster is the Managing Director of Crucial Compliance, an Innovative compliance consultancy built and operating from Gibraltar

*Fintech start-ups in Gib: https://tracxn.com/explore/FinTech-Startups-in-Gibraltar

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