The President of the Generalitat, Pere Aragonès, spoke today at the opening of the Digital Catalonia pavilion at Mobile World Congress 2023, saying ”we have a well-established business and start-up ecosystem that continues to expand”, illustrated by the fact that “Catalan companies in the digital economy sector have grown by 15% in the last year to reach 22,000 companies”. These businesses have a joint turnover of more than 30 billion euros, the equivalent of “12.4% of the Catalan GDP”, and ”provide jobs for around 183,000 people”.
These figures, along with announcements of new investments and the record number of international companies established in Catalonia, show that this economic sector is ”dynamic, innovative and open”, emphasised the President. “Today, Catalonia hosts around 100 technology centres belonging to foreign multinationals, which have an economic impact of 1.5 billion euros on the country”, added Aragonès. “We are playing in the top ten of the global league in this field”.
With these words, the President officially opened the Digital Catalonia pavilion at MWC 2023, accompanied by the Minister for Business and Labour, Roger Torrent. This year the pavilion is hosting 48 Catalan companies, organisations and technology centres, which are able to take part in the event thanks to the Generalitat de Catalunya.
The President noted that digital technologies are ”a strategic sector for the country” and highlighted the fact that this year the Generalitat is directly promoting ”the participation of more than 100 companies and start-ups in MWC, some 20% more than in 2022”. In total, since the first MWC in 2006, the Generalitat has helped 339 Catalan companies take part in the event. Overall, these companies ”have doubled their turnover and increased their workforces by 38%” compared to the first year of their involvement in the congress.
In the case of the start-ups involved in 4YFN (Four Years From Now, the event aimed at emerging companies held under the banner of the MWC), the figures are “even more positive”, as the more than 150 start-up projects that the Generalitat has supported since 2015 ”have tripled their turnover, doubled their workforce, and amassed investments of 320 million euros”. “This underlines the importance of the MWC, not only because of the impact of the event itself over the days it is held, but also for what it generates throughout the year”, he reiterated.
“We have the talent, we have the potential, and we have the best business ecosystem”, said the President, and the Generalitat is working to make it even stronger ”by investing in training, in talent, and in excellence”, in research and innovation centres and infrastructures, and also by ”forging partnerships and driving strategic projects” such as that of the European Chips Act.
Meanwhile, the Minister for Business and Labour, Roger Torrent i Ramió, pointed out that the Generalitat’s artificial intelligence (AI) strategy has a twin objective: ”to strengthen the Catalan AI ecosystem, turning it into a hub of innovation and leadership, attracting talent and investments. And to promote the adoption of this technology by the Government, the productive sector and the country’s research centres in order to improve business competitiveness and people’s lives”.
Torrent recalled that one of the key pillars of this strategy is the Aina project, based on data technology and artificial intelligence, ”to ensure that machines understand and speak Catalan”. He stressed that this year at the Mobile World Congress, ”the epicentre of the digital industry, wherever there are plans to advance the world of connectivity, we have the obligation as a Government to ensure that the Catalan language gains momentum and is present everywhere”.
The ceremony at the Digital Catalonia pavilion included the presentation of the live demonstration ”When artificial intelligence connects with people”, with which the Generalitat aims to showcase its strategic commitment to promoting AI as one of the advanced digital technologies that will have the greatest impact on society and the country’s economy.
Meeting with the EU Commissioner for Internal Market
Before opening the Generalitat’s pavilion, President Aragonès, together with the Minister for the Presidency, Laura Vilagrà, the Minister for Business and Labour, Roger Torrent, and the Minister for Education, Josep Gonzàlez-Cambray, attended the official inauguration of the MWC. Afterwards they made a tour of the stands of several national and international companies attending the event.
In addition, as part of the first day of the Mobile World Congress, the President and the Minister for Economy and Finance, Natàlia Mas, met with the European Commissioner of Interior Market, Thierry Breton. This was the second meeting between the President and the Commissioner following a previous one last October in Brussels, and they discussed Catalonia’s commitment to form part of the value chain envisioned in the European Chips Act as well as the roll-out of green hydrogen technology.