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Start arrow Agenda arrow 22@Breakfast arrow Past Events arrow 22@Update Breakfast, September 2011
22@Update Breakfast, September 2011
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Mobile World Capital

After an 18-month process in which Barcelona beat out destinations including Milan, Munich, and Paris, the city has been selected as the first Mobile World Capital. From next year until 2018, Barcelona will develop a series of programs and activities which will benefit both citizens and businesses. Barcelona will spend seven years experiencing an exciting, historic moment which will serve as an incredible opportunity for technology and industry in a wide variety of both public and private sectors.

Representatives of the Government of Catalonia, the Barcelona City Council and Fira de Barcelona participated in the September edition of the 22 @ Update Breakfast. Working in conjunction, the organizations aimed to showcase this new, exciting opportunity for Barcelona and to share the plan, activities, and basic ideas which will drive the goals of the worldwide capital of mobile communications. The event took place in the auditorium of the Media-Tic building, located at Roc Boronat, 117.

Sònia Recasens, the Barcelona City Council’s assistant deputy mayor of Economy and Employment, opened the meeting. Recasens stated that the Mobile World Capital represents a key milestone for the new municipal government, given that it sparks enthusiasm and is perfectly aligned with the city council’s two main goals, the economy and individuals.

“We’re seeking technological change, not a change in town planning”

Recasens reiterated that the Barcelona City Council’s new initiative, ‘Barcelona Crecimiento’ (‘Barcelona Growth’), is designed to kick-start the city’s economy by working together with key economic and social agents. The assistant deputy mayor told participants that the city hopes “that everyone can sit down together, share ideas and come up with solutions.”

Barcelona is ideally positioned to create business opportunities and also benefit from the “Barcelona brand” and the city’s renowned quality of life. These two values will prove key in undertaking the large-scale plans which are part of the Mobile World Capital.

Furthermore, Recasens highlighted the work which has been done by Fira de Barcelona and the organization’s tremendous contribution to this strategic city plan. “We’re seeking technological change, not a change in town planning strategies, to stimulate public and private leadership,” she said.

The public authorities have also extended financial benefits to individuals working to promote the Mobile World Capital, offering 15% discounts to businesses which invest in advertising at the fair as well as 25% off for individuals and 35% off for corporations which donate to the consortium by means of the taxation plan for non-profit entities. Furthermore, turnover during the fair is expected to amount to 1.6 billion euros and will create 5,000 new temporary jobs each year. “We are optimistic and believe that things could turn out well,” added the assistant deputy mayor.

Mobile World Capital to favor Barcelona’s “ability to move forward”

Carles Flamerich, the General Director of Telecommunications and the Information Society for the Government of Catalonia , compared the Mobile World Capital to the magical moments which took place during the ’92 Olympics in Barcelona. “This is an opportunity which will favor our ‘ability to move forward’ and which represents a change for the city and its citizens,” he said. Indeed, Flamerich is convinced that this new project will redouble participation among individuals and underscored the collaboration between participants during the selection process. “We’ll see how the crisis turns out,” he said, “but either way, we’ve already won this project.”

We must be committed to progress that is linked to mobile phones, which will allow us to put the country on the world stage. Technology is vital; it has a broad reach that touches many industries. The Government of Catalonia’s General Director of Telecommunications and the Information Society believes Barcelona should serve as a worldwide model.

Agustí Cordón, Fira de Barcelona’s Director General, reiterated that the Mobile World Capital was a joint project from the very beginning. “There was significant collaboration, including with the Spanish Government,” he said, “and if we had not hosted the Mobile World Congress beforehand, we would not have been selected as the Capital.” Cordón underscored the importance of the Congress and the collaboration between the Ministry of Spain, Government of Catalonia, Chamber of Commerce, Turisme de Barcelona, and many other institutions.

However, the Mobile World Capital is not just an extension of the Congress. The Mobile World Capital is yet to kick into gear, and work should start now. As Cordón noted, “we want Barcelona to be an industrial and technological capital.” Indeed, for the Fira de Barcelona’s Director General, the Mobile World Capital must work alongside people and set its own agenda, which will have a great industrial and social impact and serve as a catalyst for the economy. The Mobile World Capital must be a place where things happen, bringing the world of mobility to people, promoting concerts and other musical events like Sónar; sporting events like tennis, Formula 1 or the successes of Barça; and prominent artistic and cultural offerings like the Sitges Film Festival.

Barcelona: A laboratory for testing out new ideas and multisectoral solutions

Cordón added that the space where the Mobile World Capital will be located will also play a role in advertising by hosting exhibitions, press conferences, and other promotional events. Its physical site must draw people in and be located in a (still to be determined) “iconic location which is easy for the general public to access.”

The Fira de Barcelona’s General Director also highlighted the strategic role the Mobile World Capital will play and the impact it will have on industry. Barcelona will become a laboratory for testing out new ideas and multisectoral solutions. One of Cordón’s key priorities is to reach sectors like the energy and healthcare industries. “We must showcase the abilities of technology and knowledge and push both public and private capital to work towards them. All of these activities,” said Cordón, “must be brought together under a managing team.” The fair director concluded by pointing out the importance of attracting foreign companies to Barcelona.

Manel Sanromà, the director of the Barcelona City Council’s Municipal Institute of Information Technology, sought to send an optimistic message about the city’s technological abilities to host such an important event. Sanromà pointed out that the City Council is ready to begin working, noting that “mayor Xavier Trias came into office with a ‘mobile phone under his arm and a city ready for technology.’” He also noted that the new team running the municipal government will work to create a city of the future, explaining that Barcelona was born from agriculture, grew through industry, and today will evolve due to technology by creating neighborhoods of productivity and an interconnected city.

Mobile capital must also be mobility capital

Sanromà believes that the mobile capital must also be the “mobility capital,” announcing the creation of a new antenna system across the city. “Until now, it has been very difficult to put them in place,” he noted. “The news that we have been selected as the Mobile World Capital is a path toward getting away from the crisis, and we must take advantage of this opportunity.”

Sanromà also explained that it is essential that Barcelona be equipped with its own infrastructure, mobility-related services, R & D projects and a Wi-Fi network throughout the city. “In addition to buildings, Barcelona has its own technology,” he added. To prove his point, Sanromà noted that the city already has numerous services which residents can access via mobile phone, including applications for Bicing (the community biking program), the Mercè festival, Museum Night, the Festival Grec, and Poetry Week.

In this vein, Sanromà mentioned iCity, a new project recently approved by the European Commission which will be spearheaded by the Municipal Institute of Information Technology. The project has a budget of more than six million euros and will be carried out over the next three years. Businesses such as Abertis and Cisco, institutions like the Open University of Catalonia (UOC) and Citilab in Cornellà, and cities including London, Genoa and Bologna will also participate in this initiative. The iCity project will develop services for citizens based on several kinds of municipal information and communications technology (ICT) infrastructures, namely corporate Wi-Fi and a corporate fiber optic network. The City Council hopes to showcase the city´s infrastructure so that businesses can develop services of interest to the public.

Josep M. Piqué, the managing director of 22@ Barcelona, concluded the meeting and announced some of the ideas which will be discussed at future editions of the 22@Update Breakfast. These include an innovative idea called Smart Mobility as well as the Barcelona Meeting Point , scheduled to take place between October 19th and 23rd.

Key ideas

-“The Mobile World Capital will lead to a great deal of enthusiasm and will align perfectly with the goals of prioritizing the economy and individuals. It will help businesses and create jobs. The announcement that Barcelona has been selected to host the Mobile World Capital is a path toward getting away from the crisis, and we must take advantage of the present time and this opportunity.”

-“We must showcase the abilities of technology and knowledge and push both public and private capital to work towards them. Barcelona must be a business creation laboratory that serves as an example for all of Catalonia. The city should be able to attract foreign capital, leading businesses from other countries to move to Barcelona due to its attractive possibilities for investment and excellent quality of life.”

In the words of participants

-“An opportunity like the one presented by the Mobile World Capital is very important for the city of Barcelona. And we have to get started working immediately in order to quickly take advantage of business opportunities. If we don’t get started, someone else will. In a crisis like the one we are facing, we must play an active role in this project so that our companies can do business.”

-“Sometimes it’s really difficult to change, especially for older people. But it’s clear that new technology is no longer an option; it is now of paramount importance. If we do not adopt technology, we cannot grow autonomously. We all need retraining and reskilling to escape this crisis. We must be prepared.”

-“Barcelona is a fantastic place to work and live. It boasts an exceptional quality of life and great business opportunities. That’s why so many people come here from other countries. This is wonderful for us, since it adds to our diversity and talents. But we must also maintain balance and not give up all of the city’s traditions and personalities, which are also an important part of its wealth.”

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