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THE CORK ENTREPRENEURSHIP AWARD GIVEN TO KLIU SOLUTIONS MANUFACTURER OF SUSTAINABLE MATERIALS FOR CONSTRUCTION

Likewise, an accolade was awarded to Víctor Artega, renowned jeweler who makes exclusive creations with cork, for a corkscrew with a cork body called VIKORK.

On Friday, September 30, the Entrepreneurship Award - Cork Business Idea took place in the Josep Irla auditorium of the Government Delegation of the Generalitat in Girona, organized by the Catalan Institute of Cork in the framework of his 25th birthday.

In the competition "We are looking for *Upload Entrepreneurs” (*suber: from the Latin, cork) 17 proposals were presented that were shown during the event: sustainable construction solutions, decorative objects with recycled cork elements, exclusive utensils for innovative chefs, educational toys made with local cork, urban and home furniture, nautical elements that integrate with the environment and mobile applications, among others. You can see the proposals presented by clicking here.

"The main objective of these Awards, according to statements made by the director of the Institut Català del Suro, Albert Hereu,  is to motivate the creation of companies and innovation in the cork sector and these entrepreneurs who have entered the competition are a good example. We were really surprised by the good reception of the competition and we are studying to establish it biannually".

 The opening of the awarding ceremony was carried out by Eudald Casadessús, Delegate of the Government of the Generalitat in Girona, who highlighted the importance of the Catalan cork sector which is strongly rooted in the regions of Girona, sector exporter and restless and clear example of circular economy. He has encouraged the sector to continue working under strict quality criteria to be present in the best international markets.

Next, the jury formed by representatives of the national and international cork sector and experts in entrepreneurship and innovation, made an assessment of their involvement in the competition. Thus, Ferran Rodero, delegate of ACC1Ó in Girona, has given a perspective linked to entrepreneurship in the Catalan cork sector where he has encouraged the sector to innovate in order to continue to be world leaders with great potential for new applications of cork; then, Jaume Sió, Deputy Director General of Transfer and Food Innovation focused specifically on the case of innovation in the food sector, and stated that the cork sector needs to seek synergies with the wine sector and other food clusters to create networking everywhere. In turn, Joan J. Puig, president of the Associació d'Empresaris Surers de Catalunya, has explained the current situation of the Catalan cork sector, despite the obvious reduction and concentration of the number of companies, turnover in the last increased, and investments in technology and machinery have been substantial. It states that it is necessary to innovate and study new business avenues that value the cork by-product. Innovating is key to standing out from the competition and the cork technology center must support and work for the internationalization of the sector. From a more academic perspective, Laura Vall-llosera, director of the FPdGi Young Entrepreneurs Chair at the UdG, has highlighted one of the main objectives of this competition, which is to promote the entire value chain of the Catalan cork sector from forest to the final product, asking for the involvement of all agents so that these presented projects are real products and services. The president of the European Cork Confederation, Enric Vigas, has praised ICSuro as a center of world reference in cork, stating that this line of new applications and innovation needs to be promoted. All the members of the jury have congratulated ICSuro for the initiative and the participants in the competition for their proposals.

After a presentation of all the proposals in the competition, the prize awarded to VIKORK to the entrepreneur Victor Artega for the creation of a corkscrew with a cork body, the assessment made by the jury it has been due to the quality of the cork used in this case, Catalan cork and to be an element linked to the wine sector. And finally the Entrepreneurship Award - Cork Business Idea went to KLIU SOLUTIONS to the entrepreneur Jorge Fernandez for a sustainable material for construction, in which the jury positively evaluated the technical, economic and commercial viability of the project, the qualitative impact on non-pluggable Catalan cork directly from the forests or as a by-product, the impact on the creation of jobs and constant concern over the technical evolution of the product.

Montserrat Barniol, general director of Forests, was in charge of handing over the prize to the winner consisting of a piece created for the occasion with different cork textures from the OIKO design studio and a check for 2,000 euros as a subsidy for the promotion of the activity carried out, 10 hours of mentoring by the FPdGi Young Entrepreneurs Chair of the UdG, 20 hours of technical assistance from the ICSuro laboratory, the Cork Center, to provide the necessary technical support for the new project and support in the dissemination and communication of the business idea or project.

Finally, the director general of Forests closed the event by thanking all the participants for their effort, satisfied by the number of proposals and the quality. He emphasized that these awards have served to discover new uses for the material and this should help make the exploitation of Catalan corks profitable. And the commitment of the Department of Agriculture for the Catalan cork sector and the desire for these awards to have continuity.

Then, a networking space was set up in the room attached to the auditorium where the different contestants for the awards showed their products or ideas with cork to the attendees.

This award has the participation and support of the following institutions: Generalitat de Catalunya (Department of Business and Knowledge and Department of Agriculture), ACC1Ó, Associació d'Empresaris Surers de Catalunya (AECORK), European Cork Confederation (CELIÈGE) , FPdGi Young Entrepreneurs Chair at the University of Girona and Palafrugell Economic Promotion Institute (Palafrugell City Council).

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