FPdGi Awards

Speech by H. M. the King


The Queen and I return to Girona for another year to celebrate the presentation of these awards with great enthusiasm, deep conviction and the feelings that we have experienced and shared here since, close to a decade ago, the Foundation, now the Princess of Girona Foundation, was created in 2009. We attend this event with the energy and motivation that comes from knowing that we are working for something that means so much to us: the future of our country’s young people.

But, before I continue, please allow me to give special thanks to the Roca brothers and family, and everyone at Can Roca, for the generosity and support they have shown our project since it began; and today, especially, we are deeply grateful to you for giving us the opportunity to hold this event in such an emblematic place in Girona, in your home.

Nine years after the Foundation was created, I sincerely believe that we can feel proud of what we have built thanks to the efforts of many people and organisations and to their identification with this great caring, inclusive and responsible project. Obviously, it has not been an easy or simple task, but our commitment to the spirit in which the Foundation was created has kept us united before the challenges we have faced.

 We know, of course, that we still have a long journey ahead of us; that we must improve and we will; that we will go even further and achieve new goals; and that we will continue working hard to make it grow and to consolidate it as a benchmark, a loudspeaker that amplifies the signal of what thousands of young people think, need and do in a world where they do not always find someone to listen to them, understand them or support them in their ambitions and their dreams.

 And the Foundation has worked along these same lines during 2017.

This Awards ceremony is the culmination of a series of events held in Merida, Seville, Santa Cruz de Tenerife, L’Hospitalet de Llobregat and Soria; in this way, just like every year, five Spanish cities became youth talent capitals for a day; and almost a thousand young people have been able to take part in creative innovation workshops, while, at the same time, the juries deliberated to choose the winner of each of the categories. In two of these events we were fortunate enough to be able to accompany the Foundation, the Queen in Merida and I in Santa Cruz de Tenerife.

 Furthermore, during this academic year, teachers from Catalonia, Andalusia, the Balearic Islands, the Canary Islands, Castilla-La Mancha, Extremadura, Galicia, La Rioja and Murcia have participated, once again, in training to educate the entrepreneurial talent of their students. This year, the Foundation’s education line of work has been complemented by the incorporation of two new important activities: firstly, the pedagogical expeditions, which have allowed educators from all of Spain’s Autonomous Communities to learn about the best practices in educational entrepreneurship in Andalusia and the Basque Country. Secondly, the Foundation presented for the first time its Entrepreneurial School of the Year Award, for education centres committed to developing young people’s entrepreneurial talent and to educational innovation. This first edition was won by Andalucía Primary School in Fuengirola.

 Tomorrow we will be dedicating the day to the ‘Talent rescuers’ programme, which aims to tackle youth unemployment, which unfortunately is still at a very high rate, by running a series of specific actions for young people aged between 20 and 30 who have completed higher education and are unemployed, searching for their first jobs or underemployed, with priority given to those who are the first generation in their family to have obtained a degree or higher diploma. The ultimate objective of this programme is to contribute to equal opportunities in accessing the job market, as well as to encourage mobility between Autonomous Communities by our young people in order to find their first jobs: an experience which, I have no doubt, will definitely contribute towards improving their employability.

 Finally, from 2019, and coinciding with the 10th anniversary of the Awards, the Foundation will be presenting an International Award with the aim of recognising the professional and personal careers of young people who stand out for their work, their merits and their exemplarity. This new global award will highlight the capacity for achievement and self-improvement of young people from all over the world and will allow us to share the values that define all of the Foundation’s award winners beyond our own borders.

 Dear friends,

Allow me now to talk about the winners of this edition:

 When the jury for the Arts and Literature Award met last February in Merida to make the final decision from among the nominations it had received, they came across two musicians who, despite having chosen different artistic styles, shared something in common: a passion for music from a very early age. Thus, the jury discovered that cellist Pablo Ferrández Castro started playing the cello at the age of just three with his parents; in the same way, it is not hard to imagine that Soleá Morente Carbonell had her first contact with music practically from birth, as she is part of one of the families with the greatest flamenco tradition in our country and, for example, she participated in recording one of her father Enrique Morente’s albums when she was just six years old.

 This passion felt by our award winners since their childhoods has over the years translated into two of the most promising careers on today’s music scene. Both Soleá, with various records already under her belt despite her youth and her latest work, Ole Lorelei, released a couple of months ago to an enthusiastic reception by audiences and critics alike, and Pablo, who has performed on the recordings of some of the world’s best orchestras, such as the Stuttgart Philharmonic Orchestra, and has won some of the most important classical music awards, together have represented the finest talent of our young musicians on stages on the five continents.

 The jury wanted to emphasise Pablo’s “brilliant artistic career” and “his extraordinary capacity to create sound universes”, and they valued Soleá as “a completely genuine artist with the capacity to lead musical projects in a world that is often difficult for women”.

 To both of you, thank you very much for allowing us, through your art, to experience the intense emotions that only music can produce.

 The same challenge and huge difficulty of selecting just one winner from among so many talented candidates was also faced this year by the jury for the 2018 Scientific Research Award, who met five months ago in Seville and finally highlighted the great research capacity of two young chemists as role models: chemical engineer María Escudero —whose emotional and intelligent words we have just listened to— and chemist Guillermo Mínguez, who have both studied and conducted research stays in countries such as the United States, Germany, the UK and Denmark, were finally recognised as joint winners.

 About María Escudero, the jury emphasised “her work developing electrochemical catalysts based on metallic nanoparticles that could replace noble metals to reduce costs and increase efficiency in processes for obtaining clean energy”. They also wanted to recognise the scientific, technological, energy-generation and social impact of her work that will contribute towards slowing climate change.

 In turn, the jury recognised Guillermo Mínguez for his work designing hybrid molecular sieves that allow tailored nanostructured materials to be synthesised. They particularly highlighted the impact of his work on magnetic metallic organic frameworks (MOF), from his fundamental study to their application in sensors and catalysis. According to the jury, “the new porous materials developed will have a huge impact in fields such as the environment and energy”.

 María, Guillermo: with this public recognition of your scientific work the Foundation also wants to contribute to your efforts to develop your research in our country.

 To aeronautical engineer and entrepreneur from Sant Sadurní d’Anoia José Miguel Bermúdez went the 2018 Business Award. Our winner was honoured in the announcement ceremony held in Tenerife for his business and research career that currently focuses on developing a revolutionary propulsion system for maritime transport which harnesses the wind using an innovative rigid sail system.

 At his company, bound4blue, José Miguel and his team are working on a technology that will allow these sails to generate part of the power needed by large transport ships, a key sector in today’s economy, reducing fuel consumption and emissions by up to 40%. For the jury, José Miguel “has the capacity for exemplariness, differentiation, impact on society and excellence in business management that this award recognises”.

 José Miguel, as our jury rightly reminded us, you are an example to follow for many young people, and not just for your business and research career in a highly competitive sector that is difficult to break into, but also because your industrial projects have an important social and environmental impact that we can all benefit from.

 The final individual award went to social entrepreneur Arancha Martínez, our 2018 Social Award winner, who the jury, meeting at the end of March in L'Hospitalet del Llobregat, wanted to highlight for her project It Will Be, a start-up NGO that works on more collaborative and caring models for the social and cooperation sectors. Arancha, who previously worked in Dublin in the banking sector, came up with the idea for this initiative on a trip to India in 2008, when she was 24 years old, when she saw an opportunity to create a project to help those most in need in a more global way. Based on her work and experience in banking, Arancha applied personal identification technology to help other NGOs working in cooperation with developing countries.

 Instead of ‘giving’ to people individually, Arancha believed that it was better to propose joining forces in order to offer more powerful and catalysing resources, in countries where one of the main difficulties lies in identifying the people that form part of the different programmes. For the members of the jury, “the winner is an inspiring person who has chosen to infuse her personal and professional career with social commitment”.

 Arancha, we share these words and thank you sincerely for your personal and professional dedication to innovation at the service of those who need it most.

 Together with the winners in the individual categories, our Foundation also presents an award to organisations that work for young people. The jury for the 2018 Organisation Award wanted to honour the French entity Article 1 for its success in helping improve the employability of young people, regardless of their social, economic and cultural backgrounds, with great social impact, and for its management and funding models. Article 1, based in Paris, takes its name from the first article of the French Constitution which proclaims the common values of justice, equality, fraternity and liberty.

Over the years Article 1 has developed programmes that seek to build links between young people and volunteers/mentors from the professional world who want to share their knowledge and commitment. Thanks to its mentoring programmes and the workshops it organises, close to 12,000 students from difficult social backgrounds have already received the entity’s support. The ultimate aim of Article 1 is to create a society where career guidance, academic success and professional integration do not depend on one’s social, economic or cultural origins.

 As you can imagine, at the Princess of Girona Foundation we are particularly happy to recognise the efforts of an organisation with whom we share so many values. Thank you to its co-president, Boris Wallbaum, for wanting to turn Article 1 into another ally for the Foundation in its work in favour of improving young people’s employability.

 I would once again like to thank the different juries for their excellent work and also our Advisory Council not only for guaranteeing the success of our Awards, but also for inspiring us and lighting the way for us to follow in all the initiatives we develop.

 Finally, on behalf of all of us at the Foundation I would like to thank, very specially on this occasion, all of you for wanting to be here with us this afternoon:

 Thank you Valentín, Teresa and Pau for allowing us a further glimpse into your lives and for sharing our joy at the energy and enthusiasm of our new award winners, who will never forget this moment.

 Juan Carlos Ortega, who for another year has skilfully coaxed a few smiles from us while Auxiliadora, Borja and Miriam shared with us what the award meant to them and some of their other concerns.

 Thank you to Pepa and Lucía for having returned to Girona to lead this event. Estrella and Soleá, we are grateful for the gift of your voices and your sensitivity, as well as, of course, all the members of the wonderful Extremadura Youth Orchestra, conducted by our dear Andrés Salado, who just two years ago was also thrilled to receive a Princess of Girona Award.

 Dear friends,

I said at the beginning of my talk that our conviction and our faith in the spirit that prompted the creation of the Foundation has always been present since 2009. And this same spirit must continue to accompany us on the journey the Foundation is taking. And today, without doubt, seems to me to be a perfect opportunity to remember and reaffirm the validity of its founding principles.


  1. Firstly, our commitment to the young people of Catalonia and the whole of Spain, which is the same as saying our commitment to the future of our country that they represent. Helping them to discover a new reality, to understand a new world, and to acquire the capacity to take decisions with autonomy, intelligence and responsibility.
  2. Secondly, our commitment to Girona and its counties and the Foundation’s determination to remain in this region. In this regard, I would particularly like to thank all the people and groups from here who have placed their trust in this project by sharing their time, knowledge and, above all, their enthusiasm. By doing so, many young people have benefitted from this work.
  3. Thirdly, as I said in 2017 at this same ceremony, this year we have the chance to reaffirm our commitment to the identity and values that make Catalonia great and that have formed the basis of its progress and, therefore, the progress of all of Spain. And that is what we are doing today, once again, because this is the identity and the values that lie at the very heart of this Foundation: its commitment to a Catalonia of everyone and for everyone.

By that I mean:

- A Catalonia which, as I said here on the first occasion I had a few days after becoming King, cherishes the Catalan language, which in continuous dialogue and sincere and enriching coexistence with Spanish, is an element without which it would be impossible to understand the culture of this land so tightly bound to its traditions.

- A Catalonia with its historical institutions of self-government and proud of its personality.

- A land that is welcoming, inclusive, respectful of differences, open and plural, and which has always been at the cutting edge of culture and the economy.

- A land that contributed so much to our great pact for democratic and civic coexistence in liberty which culminated in our Constitution and which has enabled a political development and social and economic progress for the whole country that Spain has never seen before in its history.

Dear friends,

In 2009, at the event marking the creation of the Foundation, I affirmed that it had been born in Girona, in Catalonia, this project for young people whose spirit embodied the image we have of this land, of what we feel for it, and which men and women from all over Spain enthusiastically joined. A fully inclusive project, that brought together a shared will, efforts and hopes.

It is with this founding spirit and with these convictions that the Foundation has, year after year, been building its project, our project. Building for young people is what the Princess of Girona Foundation has always done. Always building. Yesterday, today and tomorrow. And building for young people is what it will continue to do with your help, drive and enthusiasm together with that of many other people for many years to come.

Thank you very much, and I look forward to seeing you at the 2019 FPdGi Awards.

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