Innovation and Entrepreneurship in the Barcelona Tech Hub
Technology, innovation and entrepreneurship gathered in Barcelona from February 27 to March 2 at the global tech event of the year, the Mobile World Congress (MWC), to showcase and share the latest projects, products and ideas developed over the past year. In the MWC exhibition halls, more than 100,000 visitors were able to explore everything from go-karts to virtual reality heli- drone experiences. It is in this context that FNF Madrid teamed up with FNF Jerusalem to host a delegation from Hasoub in Barcelona. Hasoub is a non-profit organization that recently inaugurated its new headquarters in Ar'ara, Israel. Here, its CEO and co-founder Rabea Zioud and Community Manager Besan Wattad, among others, work tirelessly to help and give visibility to Arab entrepreneurs in Israel and Palestine. The Campus Startup Cup finalists were the lucky ones to embark on an international experience to the Spanish tech hub, where FNF also organized a visiting program across some of the city's most important institutions working in the fields of technology, entrepreneurship and innovation.
The week began with the delegation strolling through the MWC exhibit halls and marveling at the huge booths located in the hangars of the convention center. The program also included several lectures, presentations and panel discussions with world-renowned leaders from the tech sector, covering topics such as ethics in AI and even the future of money and fintech. In the networking areas and gardens between each hall, attendees were able to interact and network with experts, innovators and passionate entrepreneurs from around the world. At the very end of the congress - almost a ten-minute walk from the main MWC entrance - the hall for the 4 Years From Now (4YFN) area, dedicated exclusively to startups, began. Its goal is "Connecting Startups," and its tagline, "Where founders meet funders, inventors meet investors, and disruption turns to business," explains the outline of the event.
On the evening of the 28th, our delegation moved across town to Valkiria: Institute for Futures' headquarters, to take advantage of an invaluable opportunity to meet and network with other entrepreneurs. Here, Iolanda Triviño, CEO and Founder of Valkiria, welcomed our group as well as another delegation from Brazil brought by 22@Network. The informal, modern and unique setting of Valkiria's Community Hub was perfect to welcome this international group. Participants from 22@Network included Isabel Sabadí, Executive Director, as well as Xavier Simó, President of the Entrepreneurship Commission, and Antoni Paz, President of the International Innovation Commission, which promotes innovation and entrepreneurship.
Although often overlooked, it is always important to consider the disparity between rural and urban entrepreneurs. Rural areas are often forgotten in the business and startup world, but with organizations like Hasoub supporting and promoting Arab tech entrepreneurs in Israel and Palestine, something is changing in this scene. We were honored to co-host a panel on this topic, "The Untapped Potential of Entrepreneurs in Peripheries: Disparities Between Rural VS Urban Entrepreneurship" with Hasoub at the MWC as part of 4YFN, where our panelists presented their initiatives and ideas on this topic. This panel discussion would not have been possible without Yossi Vardi, Chairman of 4YFN, who also opened our panel and shared his invaluable insights. We were also fortunate to welcome Rabea Zioud, co-founder and CEO of Hasoub, Iolanda Triviño, CEO and founder of Valkiria Institute for Futures, Jaume Bages, strategic advisor at Cowocat Rural, and the head of our FNF Madrid office, David Henneberger. Claudia Dakhil Carcovich, founder of Meet & Map (herself a rural entrepreneur), moderated our experts and shared her experiences with her association.
During the week, our delegation was able to observe other important parts of the mechanisms that make up the entrepreneurial and tech hub of Barcelona. From MedWaves, the center for international cooperation and development born from two UN conventions and operating within the UN Environment Programme, to a tour of Tech Barcelona, a presentation on the work of ACCIÓ (the local government for innovation), and a conversation with the founder of DigitalFems, an organization that works to empower women in the tech industry. These visits were crucial to the goal of our Visiting Program, which was to give our delegation a taste of Barcelona as a center for technological innovation and entrepreneurship. In addition, this international experience allowed them to make invaluable connections with many people who will undoubtedly become the world's next leaders in business and technology. For our team at FNF Madrid, it was a pleasure to see how these young students and startuppers learned and enjoyed this unforgettable week.