For 11 years, the Explorer programme has been fostering the entrepreneurial spirit of 18- to 31-year-olds wishing to transform their business ideas into viable projects while bringing attention to the challenges our society is facing. 

At Santander, we believe entrepreneurs, innovators and agents of change are vital in building a more sustainable future. We continue to deliver on our commitment to the fight against climate change and trust that entrepreneurship will be a key driver of our push to become net zero.

The most recent Explorer programme, made possible by Santander Universities with the Santander International Entrepreneurship Centre (CISE), placed the spotlight on the submissions’ sustainability and development. 

For 12 weeks, through collaborative learning techniques, participants connected with an international community of entrepreneurs and developed the skills needed to make their projects more viable. 

Let’s look at three examples of the potential shown by young, green entrepreneurship.

Anzol: On-demand local production

The idea of making face shields for health workers with 3D printers came about during the coronavirus crisis. Cofounder Alejandro García Soto was volunteering at the "Coronavirus Makers Galicia" network, an impromptu, not-for-profit initiative created to find solutions to emergencies stemming from the pandemic and the lockdown. Their experience revealed a bigger challenge: on-demand production. But they also realized their platform had a lot of potential in making on-demand local services more accessible and sustainable, consistent with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 12 on responsible consumption and production. Thus, Anzol was born.

 "It's hard to find producers and get quotes. At Explorer, we tackled this problem and even got our first customers: entrepreneurs with physical products who needed the right production service."

Today, Anzol is a marketplace for on-demand production services. It connects product designers, engineers and creators to quick, convenient and effective manufacturing services, opening up new business opportunities for manufacturers. Its team is formed by Alejandro García Soto and Carmen Araquistain, two young engineers from Santiago de Compostela, in northwest Spain, who have experience in industry and management and signed up for Explorer. 

"During our participation in Explorer, we confirmed our market and released the MVP. This got us our first customers. Some of them are entrepreneurs involved in the programme who needed to manufacture their products. We help them to ask for quotes and find manufacturers close by."

Anzol entrepreneurship project

Sístole: Wearable technology to monitor pregnancy in real time

Sístole is a project that five women — Julia Cacheda Castro, Ana María García Novo, Lucía Blanco Miguéns, Alba Boedo Méndez and Andrea Castro Bestilleiro — conceived after finding a potential business opportunity with maternity wear that supported SDG 3 (“good health and well-being”). Their company designed elastane leggings with sensors that can isolate and measure foetal heart rate and other vital signs in the womb and then transfer them via Bluetooth to a phone or computer device so a doctor can monitor them.To develop this innovative product for the maternity wear industry (which has hardly evolved in decades), these Fashion Industrial Management students from Universidade da Coruña relied on their own research as well as advice from healthcare and fashion experts.

"Explorer gave us an opportunity to develop our project and grow as a group, as well as the chance to connect with many experts and peers with amazing ideas. We think it’s a really rewarding experience."

Sístole entrepreneurship project

NaturGo: Standardize and compare true, sustainable tourism

NaturGo is a platform created by Laura Ruiz and Ana Martín from the Rey Juan Carlos University in Madrid. Its purpose is to find more sustainable tourist accommodation and to offset the travel footprint with local projects. It combines all certified sites for an unprecedented feat: a global eco-indicator (NaturGo index) that standardizes on certification criteria. It enables travellers to compare accurate environmental, social and economic information about accommodation options so they can easily choose their destination based on their preferences.It also gives users the bonus of putting a percentage of the booking price towards local carbon footprint offsetting projects. NaturGo has the most eco-friendly options to not only reduce travellers’ impact on the environment but also offset part of it, thus enhancing their commitment to the planet.

"Explorer made it possible for us to turn our business idea into a minimum viable product. And we acquired the tools we needed to execute our project and make it a reality."

NaturGo entrepreneurship project

Anzol, Sístole and NaturGo were three projects submitted to Explorer 2021 from January to April. In its eleventh year, the programme attracted more than 1,500 young contestants and nearly 900 entrepreneurial projects through almost 50 Explorer Spaces at affiliated universities and institutes all over Spain.

11th Explorer

1,500+ young contestants in this year’s programme

11th Explorer

900 entrepreneurial project submissions

11th Explorer

1,500+ young contestants in this year’s programme

11th Explorer

900 entrepreneurial project submissions

Next year, it will take place from September to December 2021; the deadline for submitting projects at Santander X is 12 August. What’s more, it will now cover four countries. In addition to Spain and Argentina, it will include Chile and Mexico for the first time. The top projects’ teams will take the Explorer Trip in summer 2022, spending a week with hundreds of entrepreneurs at the Innovation hub at the European Innovation Academy (EIA) in Porto, Portugal.

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