Barcelona becomes Mobile World Capital

The Catalan city has been named the Mobile World Capital by the GSMA, the association that represents the interests of mobile operators worldwide. In the period from 2012 to 2018, Barcelona will not only host the Mobile World Congress but will also become a permanent technological and cultural center that will boost the existing industrial fabric, and creates new business opportunities and global awareness of the potential of mobile communications.

The choice of Barcelona over the other cities in the GSMA’s process to select the Mobile World Capital acknowledges the ambitious and creative project presented, as well as the success and growth of the annual congress since it has been held in the city, having a considerable impact on the Catalan and Spanish economy that, after achieving capital status, will increase substantially. The economic impact over the whole period is estimated to be of 3.459 million euros.

Barcelona will become a global hub of mobile communications, which will provide the opportunity to create a new cutting edge industrial structure and generate important synergies in mobile technology development and application.

Public and Private involvement 
The city’s bid is a result of a joint effort by the Barcelona City Hall, the Catalan Generalitat, the Ministry for Industry, Tourism and Commerce as well as Fira de Barcelona, with the involvement of relevant entities and companies.

The Mayor of Barcelona, Xavier Trias, said that “Becoming the Mobile World Capital was a strategic bid for Barcelona, and consolidates our leadership as a benchmark city for new technologies. This will give a significant boost to the image of our city brand associated with a sector, that of mobile communications, which will experience strong growth in the next few years. Barcelona is reaping the rewards of the serious, professional work of different institutions with the involvement of many of the city’s companies and entities. Now, Barcelona will be the center of a new model of international event linked to economic growth, industrial development and the creation of new jobs vital to the future of our economy.”

The President of the Catalan Government, Artur Mas, considers that “it has been shown that if we do things well and are capable of excelling, Catalonia and its capital at the forefront, can become a global reference, in this case in mobile technology.  By becoming the Mobile World Capital in the next 7 years in Barcelona, we will have the opportunity to lead the future of a constantly evolving technology, which will change the traditional concept of mobility and telecommunications. This has been made possible by the joint effort, hope and commitment of institutions and civil society that have worked since 2006 when we first hosted the Mobile World Congress The appointment of Barcelona will boost Catalonia as a center of innovation in this field and will benefit other economic sectors, having a positive effect on company competitiveness and on the creation of employment”.

The Minister for Industry, Tourism and Commerce, Miguel Sebastián, is certain that the appointment “will benefit significantly, not only the city but Spain as a whole, because it will allow us to make our country an advanced and innovative platform that will broaden our international awareness within the Information and Communication Technology sector”. “We hope to transform the city and its surrounding area into an advanced urban mobile technology laboratory. Thus we expect to improve our competitiveness in an environment capable of attracting business and talent, fostering entrepreneurship and the pursuit of breakthrough innovations” added Sebastián.

The President of Fira de Barcelona, Josep Lluís Bonet, stated “we have to congratulate ourselves for the collective success that the appointment as Mobile World Capital means for Barcelona and the whole country. The candidacy work has been magnificent and it is only fair to highlight the effort and support of the institutions, companies and various entities. I believe the final decision was based on the soundness of the project we presented, but also on the contribution of Barcelona, its institutions and, specifically Fira as co-organizer of the Mobile World Congress that, since it arrived in the Catalan capital in 2006, has experienced important growth.”

Along the same lines, the President of Turisme de Barcelona, Joan Gaspart said that “Barcelona enjoys a magnificent international tourist position. In the last decade, the city has become one of the global hot spots for urban tourism. The selection of Barcelona as the Mobile World Capital increases our degree of notoriety even more, which will help us to promote the city and which, logically, will increase tourism. It will also reinforce the calendar of international congresses we host every year”.

In addition to holding a Congress that brings together the global elite for four days, the new concept of the Mobile World Capital will mean the creation of permanent headquarters in the city and a program of industrial, leisure and cultural initiatives throughout the year, through elements such as the Mobile World Centre and Mobile World Festival.  A Foundation comprising the Town Hall, the Catalan Government, the Ministry, Fira and the GSMA, will be in charge of managing projects and activities related to the new Mobile World Capital concept.

As the Mobile World Capital, Barcelona will be transformed into a benchmark city in terms of mobile phone use in all areas of the lives of people and companies, a “living lab” which fosters the growth of the existing industrial fabric, technological development and favors the creation of new highly qualified jobs. The Mobile World Capital is meant to create a new tech cluster that will build an enduring legacy for the citizens of Barcelona, Catalonia and Spain.

One of the project’s key elements will be the Mobile World Center, located downtown Barcelona, which will be the Capital’s permanent icon.  Its facilities will be the Mobile World Capital’s operations center, as well as a platform to provide information about the capital status, and will host technological exhibitions, a shopping area and museum spaces. Lastly, the Mobile World Festival includes all marketing, leisure and entertainment activities related to the sector.

Mobile World Capital status, step by step  
The selection of Barcelona as MWC started in summer 2010 when the candidate cities received a Bid Manual from the GSMA. At the end of January 2011, after the first stage of the evaluation process, four cities were shortlisted:  Barcelona, Milan, Munich and Paris.

Fira de Barcelona has hosted the annual Mobile World Congress since 2006, when the event was moved to the Catalan capital from Cannes (France). Since being held in Barcelona, all of the event’s figures have increased: the last edition recorded 60,000 attendees and 1,400 exhibitors, growths of 76% and 133% respectively compared to 2005 edition held in France.

Barcelona, 22nd July 2011