We are witnessing a third industrial revolution, and the city of Barcelona is a fundamental part of this change. A technological development hub, a meeting point for the international entrepreneurial community, a smart city, a living lab… this is how Barcelona, the site of the GSMA Mobile World Congress since 2006 and the world’s premier mobile capital, defines itself in the field of innovation.

 Aleix Valls, Managing Director of Mobile World Capital Barcelona, and Director of 4YFN and mVenturesBCN; and John Hoffman, CEO and Director of GSMA, addressed these and other questions on Friday, 11 December.

The fact that the largest mobile technology congress in the world has established itself in Barcelona constitutes a major success, promoting the creation of new business models. The mobile industry ecosystem has grown on par with the Mobile World Congress, to the detriment of the traditional sector, while the holding of the congress has made Barcelona the foremost technological reference point in southern Europe, the city joining the likes of Silicon Valley, Israel, China, and India.


As Aleix Valls pointed out in his talk with John Hoffman, Mobile World Capital Barcelona is striving to lead digital transformation across all sectors. The entrepreneurship and innovation programme backed by 4 Years From Now, the business platform targeting the international community of mobile startups, is dedicated exclusively to identifying great ideas and nurturing talent. Being held in conjunction with the Mobile World Congress, and benefitting from GSMA’s active participation, 4 Years From Now gives Catalonian companies and startups greater visibility, furnishing them with an international presence.

4YFN has turned out to be what GSMA had always wanted: a forum complementing the Mobile World Congress and representing a new, much younger segment of the business community. Year after year 4YFN has drawn more attendees and expanded its surface area to generate new and better business opportunities. “4YFN makes it possible to see talent, people, and, above all, for ideas to flourish,” said Valls.

Large corporations attend the Mobile World Congress, while small businesses opt for 4 Years From Now. But what collaboration models will be established between them? According to Hoffman, the world is an extremely competitive place. In this context there will be both competition and collaboration: “Startups with big ideas must be identified. Large companies can collaborate with them, buy them, or wait for them to disappear.”

In any case, a country with a solid entrepreneurial ecosystem is economically more solvent and much richer at the technological level. “We will develop a project that lasts through 2023 and beyond, serves as a beacon guiding digital transformation, and creates a legacy for Barcelona,” Valls predicted. “And you will all have GSMA to help you,” Hoffman added.

Aleix Valls interviewed John Hoffman at a lunch break organised by the Barcelona Tech City digital cluster.