February 2015.- The Mobile World Congress was held this year once again in Barcelona, with an attendance of around 93.000 people, more than what was initially expected. The MWC is just one more reason to discover Catalonia’s appeal as the ideal location for new business opportunities. Barcelona, as the first Mobile World Capital until 2018, is the perfect place to bring together all the key actors of the mobile industry: local and foreign companies, start-ups and major consolidated businesses, institutions and people.
Barcelona ensures you get the most out of the MWC by encouraging networking, collaboration and competitiveness in order to foster and develop information and communication technologies (ICT), especially those related to the mobile sector and its multiple applications. Thanks to this, it is not surprising that Catalonia is Southern Europe’s main ICT cluster. As Mobile World Capital, the city has even improved its already existing network of companies; especially those interested in ICT growth sectors, such as e-commerce. Furthermore, Barcelona has its own appeal as one of Europe’s top cities in which to live and work, qualities that strengthen its attractiveness as a business hub.
The total number of Catalan companies present has kept growing since 2006. Some 95 Catalan businesses had a stand in this year’s MWC, 60 of which under the auspice of the Catalan Government (44 stayed at the Catalonia stand and 16 more, at the App Planet area, a hall dedicated to mobile app development). These firms focus on different specific segments included in the mobile and technological sector, and offer a series of developments for society in line with Smart City values.
- For instance, Bismart specializes in converting the huge quantity of data produced in cities into usable information for municipalities. It identifies correlations, anomalies and patterns to help decision-making and to allow municipalities to access and analyse this big data in a correctly and efficiently.
- Aparca & Go focuses onmaking life easier for citizens in a very different way. It offers its users a range of more than 200 affiliate parking areas in Barcelona and Madrid, with the possibility to book and pay for them with their smartphones.
- Medtep is a health-focused company that facilitates the provision of personalized medicine in a disease prevention environment. It also eases the treatment and monitoring of these conditions through the tracking of medical and patient lifestyle-related data. It offers two apps: uClinics (for healthcare professionals) and uPatient (for patients).
- Finally, Red Points aims to protect the digital goods of companies and people, offering a technological solution to fight against illegal distribution and use of contents. Red Points specializes in unauthorized websites and mobile apps and with unauthorized content, fake profiles on the social networking and illegal merchandising sales, among others.
Four big programs
The MWC 2015 and its Mobile World Capital, Barcelona, focused on four big programs, all aimed to foster synergies between supply and demand and to encourage mobile transformation. Barcelona, as Mobile World Capital, considers these programs strategic: Entrepreneurship and Innovation, Health, Education and Smart Living.
- The promotion of Entrepreneurship and Innovation is one of the main work areas of the MWC, aimed to stimulate the economy and the business community. This project targets knowledge and resources sharing in order to stimulate the entrepreneurial capacity of growth. It features all agents in the entrepreneurial ecosystem: start-ups, investors, research labs, universities and business associations. The strategic lines of this program include the Internet of Things, the incorporation of mobile technology into wearables, Transmedia Communication, the User Experience and new User/Device Interactions. ‘Four years from now’ (‘4YFN’) is an international event for entrepreneurs that held its second edition this year, with the MWC’s support. This edition has registered an increase in participation, with over 8.000 attendants (almost quadruplicating the 2.200 participants of the 2014) during three days full of conferences, workshops and exhibitions. More than 450 entrepreneurs from all over the world have met with over 250 investors and held 5.000 meetings. The program was founded to identify the three most innovative start-ups in mobile technology. In order to do so, ‘4YFN’ hosted an international mobile entrepreneurship competition opened to any company having innovative ideas.
- Mobile Health (mHealth) should be understood as a total revolution that enables health practices (patient monitoring, clinical data collection, the tracking of vital signs and medical records management) to be performed using mobile devices. This year, Barcelona focused on three main objectives: identifying new mobile technology opportunities, transforming current healthcare processes and promoting the interoperability of health services in the field of mobile technologies.
- The mSchools program aims to bring together public and private institutions to promote new ways of teaching and learning by fostering the usage of mobile technology. This year, the project focused on encouraging students to build new digital skills and improve their entrepreneurial spirit, achievement and employability.
- Smart Living works to support the development of services that will improve people’s interaction with a smart city. This project, known as Mobile Ready, aims to promote already existing mobile technology and facilitate the creation of new initiatives that will improve citizens’ and visitors’ quality of life. Mobile Ready is applied to different everyday activities, like transport and other public services, tourism, cultural or shopping experiences. Some of the Smart Living projects that are currently being implemented in Barcelona are smart traffic lights, open data, mSchools or BCN Contactless.