The success that the Mobile World Congress has experienced in these past editions is inseparable from the hard work of an organization that has been working for years to foster the use of mobile technologies, sustainability and innovation: Mobile World Capital. This organization has become a key pillar of the Congress since 2011, year in which Barcelona was selected by the GSMA to hold the event until 2018.
But Mobile World Capital´s efforts fo not stop at the Congress: its duties extend all around the year to promote the use of new wireless technologies, smart health, education, innovation among companies and entrepreneurship. Although the preparation of the Mobile World Congress is one of its main tasks, Mobile World Congress works during the rest of the year to create side events and technological opportunities.
Oscar Pallarols, Director of the Smart Living division at the Mobile World Capital, spared some time with us, just a few hours ahead of the Congress´final day, to review the highlights and main achievements of this edition.
SCASC: In comparison with last year´s edition, what are the main changes that we have witnessed during Mobile World Congress 2015?
Oscar: We have seen a substantial development in the organization of MWC 2015. Many technologies from last year, technologies that were still in their first steps, have been reworked and shaped further along this year with a wide array of products designed for the consumer. We are not just talking about tech products and gadgers here, because the solutions that have been presented in successive editions of the Congress have progressively shifted towards the mobility industry, the finantial industry, fitness, health… Being specific, this year we have seen well-applied solutions in the field of the connected car, the Internet of Things of the many options of wearables.
SCASC: What numbers, in terms of visitors, can we expect from this edition of the Congress?
Oscar: [The interview took place only three hours from the closure of the event] We are expecting to reach a volumen of visitors of 93 or 94 thousand people, anet increase of 10% in comparison to last year.
SCASC: Indeed, we do not only perceive an increase of visitors and exhibitors, but also from developers and students from all around the world. Do you believe that the success of MWC as an event has contributed to the current status of Barcelona as an innovative and global city?
Oscar: There is no doubt that MWC has contributed in that sense, but it isn´t the only factor. With every Congress we hold, there are more side events, presentations and gatherings in the city, and this makes it possible to bring more and more opportunities on the remaining 51 weeks of the year. Barcelona was declared World Innovation Capital, and has a critical mass of innovation and entrepreneurship that has few matches in Europe, perhaps only surpassed by London or Berlin. Perhaps we could say that, behind this boost in Barcelona´s reputation as a cutting.-edge city, there´s a cultural factor. Barcelona has definitely left its print on this event [Mobile World Congress], and there is a distinguishable factor of innovation, design and Cosmopolitan feeling throughout the entire city, which helps a lot.
SCASC: What is the economic benefit that the MWC has on the city, taking the Congress itself as well as paralell events and tourism into account?
Oscar: There is a yearly study that analyses this impact on the city, and it usually comes up with figures from 430 to 450 million euro. This is quite a horizontal economic impact since it generates a lot of jobs in sectors such as hosting, transport, dining and commerce, due to the thousands of people who spend the week in Barcelona to attend MWC. A strong positive impact that benefits the entire city, and not only the owners of the venue or the exhibition stands.
SCASC: One of the most interesting paralell events is 4YFN (Four Years From Now), holding its second edition this year. How deep has Mobile World Capital been involved, and what does this event offer?
Oscar: 4YFN is an initiative 100% born at the Mobile World Capital that was devised last year with a particular idea in mind: many developers come to the Mobile World Congress, but perhaps such an event and venue is not their natural habitat. These professionals work better in a space that is tailored towards the search of clients, partners, investment, etc. This led us to design a side event, but still related to MWC, something that was focused on the needs of the developer. Last year, on its first edition, we registered 2.200 attendees, and this year the number has rocketed up to 8.000 people. Out of those eight thousand, half of them were visitors to the Congress itself (visitors and exhibitors could enter frelly with their pass), but the remaining half were visiting 4YFN exclusively.
SCASC: The contribution of Mobile World Capital towards the reputation, economy and development of Barcelona is remarkable. How would you describe the work of Mobile World Capital, leaving the Congress aside?
Oscar: Mobile World Capital is a great opportunity to the entire aggregate sector of ICT, communications, innovation and technology, and it generates great opportunities to the whle chain of value of society (public & private sector, students and institutions, companies…). This benefit extends outside of Barcelona, to the entirety of Catalonia and Spain, and contributes to our common goal and effort of becoming a paradigmatic city in the European scenario, and hopefully, the whole world.