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barcelona open to business, open to innovation

Interview with Snia Recasens Alsina, the Second Deputy Mayor of Barcelona City Council

Snia Recasens Alsina is Deputy Mayor for Economy, Enterprise and Employment of the City Council of Barcelona. Within this area she is responsible for the management of the municipal budget, the employment policies, support for enterprises and entrepreneurship, as well as the economic promotion of the city, which includes the attraction of talent, investment and funding, by means of a model of public management oriented towards results.

knowledge economy that act as a motor of development, and in which it is worth highlighting the information and communication technologies, biotechnology, design, sustainable mobility, food, logistics, and renewable energies, amongst others. The area of Barcelona has a diversified economic structure and one which is open to the world, with a historic volume of exports, that last year reached 45,034 million Euros. At the same time, Barcelona is home to the best European business schools and a top level university offer, that facilitates the creation and attraction of international talent. The city also has an important network of research centres and facilities intensive in knowledge, that serve the university, business, scientific and entrepreneurial community.

How is Barcelona tackling the current economic situation?

Barcelona counts on important assets of major economic value for the companies and economic activity. Our major strengths are quality of life, culture, history, architecture, gastronomy, entrepreneurship or creativity, factors which combine with a strategic geographical location which includes powerful connection hubs with the rest of the world, such as Barcelona Airport, which surpassed 35 million passengers in 2012. The capital of Catalonia is the Gateway of southern Europe, centre of an emerging economic Euroregion in the form of the Mediterranean area, bridge to the Maghreb and platform which links to Latin America. All these factors combine with firm support for emerging strategic sectors linked to the

All in all, we have the knowledge, the talent, the infrastructures and the city brand that make Barcelona a creative, business city. We are referring here to an unstoppable combination that go hand in hand with a series of municipal measures and policies aimed at turning the capital into the best setting for economic and business growth, with a clear international vocation, and in which the playing field is the world.

What are the measures for reactivating the economy?

From the City Council of Barcelona we are promoting an agile, modern and competitive administration that allows us to offer budgetary stability and healthy finances. This starting point

enables us to have a public management oriented towards economic growth that counts on important public-private cooperations. In this sense our roadmap is the initiative Barcelona Growth, the action plan that is structured around 30 measures based on the joint and coordinated action of the administration, the economic, social, and knowledge agents and those of the territory, with the aim of reactivating the economy, developing the local business fabric, generating employment and attracting investments to the city. The most representative example of this public-private initiative is the creation of the agency Barcelona Growth, also responsible for orienting and managing the Barcelona Brand, an extremely important asset at the service of the companies, fostering the attraction of new investments and talent. The Barcelona Growth agency is the tool for boosting five key measures: the creation of the One-stop shop for Companies, an office for attending companies with a clear vocation for being an advisory body, for accompanying businesses that will comprise a service for covering their needs both in terms of procedures, funding, search for professionals or public tenders. A data and resources centre will also be created to inform about the economic potential of the city, and will include an exhibition space that will present the city from the business and economic point of view, and for all sectors. At the same time, the companies will be able to use this space to attend clients, suppliers and providers, joining synergies and enabling contacts that generate business opportunities. The third measure included in Barcelona Growth is that of turning the capital of mobile into the economic motor of the different sectors. In 2011 Barcelona was chosen as Mobile World Capital for the period 2013-2018 by the GSMA, the organizers of the Mobile World Congress. This is the most important world meeting of mobile technologies that brings together representatives from more than 220 countries from all over the world in the biggest mobile ecosystem that includes phone manufacturers, programming companies, equipment suppliers and internet companies, as well as the organizations in sectors of the industry such as financial services, health, the communication media or transports. Since then, the Mobile World Capital has promoted entrepreneurship and the development of this sector that has an important impact on the Catalan and Spanish economy. The headquarters of the Barcelona Mobile World Capital, the offices of the GSMA and the Mobile World Hub, from which the different competence centers will work (health, wallet, travel, content, smart city) will share the spaces and synergies in the MediaTIC, an emblematic building which accommodates all these services and is a symbol of the 22@, the innovation district. Another of the measures is the combination of Talent/Cibernarium that on the one hand provides advice and assessment about new human capital for companies, and at the same time offers specialized training in IT for professionals.

Finally, a free zone for entrepreneurs will also be implemented, a tax free zone for startups in the field of new technologies, that will enjoy advantages such as 100% rebates of the municipal taxes and rates, of the Social Security payments for new indefinite contracts and partial rebates of the rental prices for offices. In short, we want to construct a setting for opportunities, a business-friendly city, not only for the local business fabric, but also for people who want to set up and grow their business projects in Barcelona.

Barcelona is taking advantage of the holding of the LLGA City Summit of San Francisco to do an international call for urban innovation solutions, the Barcelona Open Challenge. Why this interest?
Barcelona has become, and has been for some time, a Smart City reference in innovation applied to cities committed to boosting advances in fields such as urban planning, mobility, energy or ICT, and does so by means of public-private partnerships that involve and articulate the business fabric. This international launch of challenges of our city in which we invite companies and entrepreneurs from all over the world to offer their solutions responds to two priority objectives of the City Council. On the one hand, that of transforming and innovating the public services with a future vision, thus improving the quality of life of the citizens. And on the other hand, by boosting actions and projects that foster entrepreneurship and that attract investment and business innovation in areas as diverse as the environment, mobility, urban spaces, education or social services, amongst others. We have made the commitment to acquire and implement the proposals of the winning companies to which we offer important incentives for their landing in the city both at a level of incubation spaces, with possible tax rebates and with advisory services and business coaching. If the company sets up in Barcelona, we will work jointly with them to adapt their proposal to the city with the aim of introducing it by means of a real purchase, or a joint investment. As such, the city will create an innovation fund worth one million Euros so as to provide support in terms of contracting, and the costs of implementation. We invite you take part in these challenges which will help us to construct, between everyone, the Barcelona of the future at the service of people.