The Government of Catalonia and the organisers of the America’s Cup (ACE Barcelona) signed a collaboration agreement on Thursday to ensure the competition has long-lasting technological and industrial impact in Catalonia. The aim is to take advantage of one of the most important sporting events in the world, which will be held next year for the first time in Barcelona, to promote the use of green hydrogen in the Catalan nautical sector, stimulate the activity of the local technology and video game ecosystem, showcase Catalonia to the world and facilitate the procurement of products and services from Catalan companies.
The signing of the agreement, by ACCIÓ, the Ministry of Business and Labour’s agency for business competitiveness, and America’s Cup Event, is one of the actions the Generalitat de Catalunya has carried out since last year to establish Catalonia as a global leader in terms of innovation and sustainability in the nautical sector and the blue economy. The Catalan Government is working in conjunction with organisations such as the Barcelona Capital Nàutica Foundation to amplify the impact of this event beyond the competition, which will take place between August and October 2024, and leverage its high technological component.
According to the Minister for Business and Labour, Roger Torrent i Ramió, “the government’s objective is for the America’s Cup to have a socio-economic impact that lasts beyond the event itself and results in a significant economic return and job creation”. "But above all, it should translate into R&D projects in Catalonia, industrial development, opportunities for Catalan SMEs, and the growth of the blue economy and the Catalan nautical sector, always with sustainability as the underlying principle”, he emphasised.
Meanwhile. the CEO of ACE Barcelona and Emirates Team New Zealand, Grant Dalton, stated that “it has been very evident from the beginning that the host entities of the 37th America’s Cup here in Barcelona recognised the significant opportunities that exist with hosting the event beyond the sporting spectacle”. Dalton emphasised that “innovation and technology are in the DNA of the America’s Cup and this exciting partnership with ACCIÓ is an example of a practical flow on of technology from the event that will boost the local business ecosystem of technology and research”.
An accelerator for Catalan industry
The agreement signed on Thursday is primarily aimed at taking advantage of the event to promote a new economic sector in Catalonia focused on decarbonised nautical vessels that run on green hydrogen. Specifically, the agreement includes the commitment of America’s Cup to transfer the technological knowledge generated by this competition in the field of green hydrogen to ACCIÓ to promote the industrialisation of this technology in Catalonia. Indeed, the competition’s official support vessels will run on green hydrogen at speeds of up to 50 knots, generating zero emissions.
An example of this is the agreement that America’s Cup has reached with Air Products –through its subsidiary Carburos Metálicos – a local supplier of industrial gases based in Barcelona, which has become the Official Hydrogen Supplier of the 37th America’s Cup in Barcelona. Air Products will be responsible for supplying the green hydrogen.
Also in the field of technology, the Generalitat de Catalunya and the America’s Cup will boost the Catalan innovation ecosystem by leveraging the competition’s sophisticated demand for technological solutions. Thus, Catalan start-ups, companies, clusters and technology and research centres will be encouraged to respond to the technological challenges associated with the competition through Open Innovation Challenges organised by ACCIÓ at the main technology events held in Catalonia, such as the MWC and Integrated Systems Europe (ISE).
The agreement stipulates that both parties will collaborate to facilitate this connection with the local ecosystem and promote the procurement of products or services from Catalan companies by the America’s Cup and the teams that will compete in the event. This initiative will be implemented, among other means, through the clusters that are part of the ACCIÓ Catalunya Clústers programme, which includes 27 Catalan clusters which encompass more than 2,700 companies and associated entities with a combined turnover of more than 70 billion euros.
More international exposure for Catalonia
The alliance between the Government of Catalonia and the organisers of the America’s Cup also envisions Catalan firms participating in the development of the first video game in the history of this competition. This initiative, in addition to strengthening Catalonia’s position in the field of video games and e-Sports and stimulating the local ecosystem of this sector, will also serve as a platform to showcase Catalonia and Barcelona to the world.