Thursday, January 30, 2014

Barcelona, @re you ready?

By Javier Castillo - January/30/2014

It’s a promising new year and as I write about all great things Barcelona, it wouldn’t be fair to not mention the tech scene that has been blossoming of late. 

I’d go as far as to say that Barcelona is coming of age – steadfastly climbing to that tipping point of becoming an influential and powerful confluence in the world of tech. A wise man once said there is no progress without struggle and Barcelona (as well as Spain in general) has had its share of it since 2008. Yet things do seem to be improving, at least on the surface. Now, this could be the result of many ambitious and determined individuals trying to pave their own paths due to the heavy local unemployment rate - or it could be the result of several initiatives by the government to foster a technological landscape such as the @22 District that follows in the footsteps of other European tech hotbeds such as Berlin, Dublin and Helsinki. Mostly likely it’s the result of both, and then some.

Last year in February, Mike Butcher - European Editor of TechCrunch - returned for a second time to Barcelona to host an event focused on Mobile Startups. The event featured a panel of experts discussing the possibilities of Barcelona emerging as an international tech hub and the resources it needs and hurdles it must overcome to reach that goal. It was insightful and retrospective, and very much needed. Shortly thereafter Robin Wauters of The Next Web wrote a deep and thought-provoking piece highlighting the Barcelona tech ecosystem, and pretty much nailed it. Locally, the government has done its part to try and spark the entrepreneurial flame by easing startup costs and time constraints through passing recent legislature.

This trend of progress and innovation promises to continue this year, and rightfully so. In fact, tomorrow Smashtech returns to Barcelona with an event covering the Mobile Business industry and offering a Master Class on App Marketing. 

In February get ready for the Mobile World Congress that will be back for its 3rd year to host the world’s greatest mobile event. Zuck will be present this time around and will partake as one of the keynote speakers. 

Still not enough? Then in March prepare yourselves for Eshow Barcelona an international trade show focusing on the e-commerce industry bringing together the latest and greatest developments taking place in this sector.

Looking for sources to tap into the local tech culture and learn more? Check out a great platform helping connect companies, entrepreneurs and business-minded folk; or wander over to Barcelona Loves Entrepreneurs (BLE) where their socially-based initiative is to put Barcelona on the map as an entrepreneurial destination. Another wonderful source bringing together the burgeoning tech startup space and promoting networking is Barcelona Tech Network . And if you want some relative news sources regarding innovation, technology and business in the Catalan capital, a must follow is Barcinno. Want to get off your computer, ipad or handheld device and do some proper face-to-face time or simply prefer informal get-togethers with other like-minded entrepreneurs and techies? Then your cup of tea might be Barcelonastartups.

Looking for work? Check out locally-based JobFluent a terrific platform for connecting aspiring startups with the talent they need and vice versa.

And if you possess the passion and drive and want to set up your own venture, you might want to take a look at Barcelona Activa which can guide you and provide the necessary resources to get you on track. For help setting up your own company read my past article So You Want To Start Your Own Business in Spain? 

So, as we head into this new year, Barcelona edges ever closer to becoming a tech hub reference, something that it’s been yearning for the last several years. Over a century ago it was one of the epicenters of art and Modernism – an emblematic period that continues to define the city. There is no reason, then, to believe that Barcelona can’t achieve another renaissance – a renaissance of a different art form, one based on a new culture of digital technology, innovation and continued optimism. Barcelona @re you ready? 


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