The congressmen in suits are back, the black vans of business people, the trains full of businessmen and, of course, the taxi strike. The Mobile World Congress (MWC), which will be held at the Fira de Barcelona facilities in L’Hospitalet de Llobregat from February 27 to March 2, is already heating up. This Thursday its organizers have certified that the return to normality before the pandemic is closer than ever. Proof of this are the protests by the taxi drivers, who have threatened, as they did in many previous editions, to stop during the mobile world congress. “This only means that Mobile is finally back,” ironized John Hoffman, the executive director of the GSMA, the employers’ association for the mobile industry, which has organized the congress in Barcelona since 2006. The number of attendees expected, 80,000 It is also a sign that Congress is recovering from the blow of the pandemic (in 2021 it gathered only 20,000, and last year, 60,000), although the record of 109,000 congressmen from 2019 is still far away.
Each edition of the MWC shows that this congress focuses less and less on mobile terminals and more on the entire industry of applications and Internet uses that surrounds mobile phones. The MWC has been adapting to this reality and this year, as explained by Mats Granryd, general director of the GSMA, half of the attendees will come from companies that are not directly related to mobile phones, but are dedicated to logistics, finance, video games or the metaverse.
The congress will have 2,000 exhibiting companies (the one that will occupy the most space will be Huawei, which will have 50% more square meters than the previous year) and more than 300 speakers. Proof of this shift from mobile phones to the industry is in the participants, such as Vincent Clerc, CEO of the Maersk shipping company, or Martha Sazon, president of G-Cash. There will also be representatives from the mobile industry, such as José María Álvarez-Pallete, president of Telefónica and the GSMA.
The congress will inaugurate a new space, called Journey to the Future, where it will present the most disruptive applications, such as the passenger transport system using a Hyperloop capsule or a space for technological experimentation in medicine called Next Hospital. This year there will also be a collaboration between the MWC and FC Barcelona, which will bear the name of Sports Tomorrow Congress.
For the second year, the congress will have a space, the Industry City, where the different modalities of digital transformation that the industry is experiencing will be taught. And it will house in its facilities the 4YFN startup room, which was previously held in a separate pavilion. “It will be a place to charge energy, with more than 700 companies explaining their ideas, which will have access to more than 1,000 international investors,” Hoffman explained.
Another of the activities that is repeated this year is the Beat Barcelona, a space dedicated to music and gastronomy. “It’s the place to be, where you can network and relax. You will be there, right Jaume?”, Hoffman asked Jaume Collboni, who attended the press conference because he is still Barcelona’s first deputy mayor, until his resignation is formalized on the 1st, which he announced a few years ago. days to focus on the electoral campaign.
The organizers have also detailed the economic impact that they estimate the congress will have for Barcelona, a city with which the congress closed an agreement last year so that the celebration is guaranteed at least until 2030. They estimate the economic impact at 350 million euros ( in 2019, before the pandemic, there were 473 million). The congress will encourage the hiring of 7,400 workers. Regarding the taxi drivers’ strike and the problems that it could generate in mobility, Hoffman has expressed confidence that the administrations will reach an agreement with the drivers and that there will be no problem: “In the end, there never is.”
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