José Antonio Llorente, 7 March 2022
After two years of the pandemic, the Mobile World Congress (MWC) has returned to Barcelona this week with an eminently face-to-face format, very similar to the one we knew before the covid incursion into our lives. The long-awaited celebration of this macro-event, a true icon for the technology sector worldwide in which super-connectivity has been the protagonist, leaves a very positive balance for the Catalan capital. According to data provided by the GSMA, the 2022 edition has exceeded 60,000 visitors from 200 countries, with the presence of more than 1,900 exhibitors and sponsors, 1,000 speakers and around 1,600 accredited journalists. Likewise, the economic impact for Barcelona of this edition would be around 240 million euros, according to a preliminary analysis. Without reaching the levels prior to the outbreak of the pandemic, these results should be a source of satisfaction for the Mobile World Capital Barcelona Foundation and all the institutions that, with their efforts, have made the event a success.
Over the years, the MWC has become an unavoidable event with a great impact on the Catalan economy. Our latest LLYC-La Vanguardia observatory, published in January and based on the analysis of the digital conversation about Barcelona among 1.5 million profiles, makes this clear: 1 out of 10 messages about the economy of Catalonia in the last 3 years refer to this event, a meeting that, on the other hand, has contributed significantly to consolidate Catalonia’s position as a benchmark in innovation.
Despite the difficulties of recent years, Catalan society has not given up
In fact, this innovative nature is also reflected in the results of the observatory, since Barcelona generates a significantly higher volume of conversation on this subject than Madrid.
In this regard, the latest figures published by the Generalitat through Acció – the Agency for Business Competitiveness – could not be more encouraging: Catalan start-ups broke historical records in 2021, having captured a total investment of 1,479 million euros, which represents an increase of 246% compared to 2020. In addition, Barcelona occupies a prominent position at European level, being the fourth city in the EU in number of start-up financing rounds –only behind Paris, Berlin and Amsterdam– and the 6th by volume of investments captured. It is also a center of consolidation and growth of start-ups, being the fourth city in the EU by number of scale-ups.
Within this sea of companies, it is worth dwelling on some sectors in which Catalonia is especially at the forefront, such as health. In fact, in 2021 this industry also broke records, registering a total investment of 238 million euros in health start-ups and multiplying investment in medical technologies by 2.4 compared to 2020, according to the 2021 BioRegion report. Despite the pandemic, the report highlights the growing weight of the life sciences and health sector for the economy, which already represents 8.7% of Catalonia’s GDP. Initiatives such as the forthcoming opening by Tech Barcelona of the Pier Healthtech will continue to reinforce Catalonia’s leading character in a sector of great relevance and social impact such as healthcare.
These data are just a reflection of the enormous potential and excellent prospects for the future of Catalonia. Despite the difficulties it has had to face in recent years, such as the scourge of a cruel pandemic or tensions in the political arena, Catalan society has not given up. Catalans in general have always been characterized by facing adversity thanks to their ability to work, their entrepreneurial spirit and their innovative character. This attitude, along with some data that speak for themselves, should lead Catalonia to look at its future with great optimism and the certainty that it has more than enough reasons to shine as it has done so many times in the past.