More startups than ever: 4YFN Director Pere Duran talks about their biggest event yet
4YFN is the startup community’s most awaited event in Barcelona. It’s where entrepreneurs, investors, corporates, public institutions and innovators from all over the world come together and spend three days in a buzzing atmosphere, discussing how they’re going to change the world.
There is a monumental team effort behind the conference that showcases what the world is going to look like four years from now. Heading up the team is Pere Duran, whose time as 4YFN Event Series Director is looking like a grand slam.
We caught up with Pere to chat about what awaits 4YFN attendees and how he feels about this year’s conference. He also shares his thoughts on Barcelona’s role in the global startup ecosystem, what we’re doing right and what could go better.
So let’s get right into it!
4YFN 2019 – a new edition of Barcelona’s startup conference
What should visitors expect from the 2019 edition of 4YFN?
This edition of 4YFN will be the biggest and best yet! We are expecting 21,000 international visitors, there will be more than 600 startups exhibiting from across the innovation spectrum, more than 300 speakers and 120 hours of content onstage designed to challenge and inspire.
How is this year’s conference going to be different from previous editions?
This year we have grown so large, we are spilling out of Fira onto the street! We will also sell out completely, which is amazing. That means we have more startups than ever and we have a newly created corporate innovation zone too where big companies can share their latest developments and innovation programs.
We have a new specific Talent Space for corporations to identify talent, where entrepreneurs and the audience can find dream jobs.
We also have a new internal policy, “Startups First”, to consider working with startups first. This year we have partnered with two very cool startups to create a VR Experience, Broomx and Antiloop, and we will also launch a balloon to the Stratosphere with the startup Zero2Infinity.
How can a startup make the most of attending 4YFN?
There are a huge number of activities planned for the startups exhibiting – the ways in which to get involved are endless. The first big step is making sure that they have opted in to all of the important things we plan for them like inclusion in the online Startup Catalogue, the pitching & mentoring and “pitch the press” sessions.
What are some of the themes/topics that you’re really looking forward to seeing at 4YFN?
This year we are focusing hard on blockchain, AI, robotics and Tech4Good. Of course, we cover a really vast array of subjects, from digital health to women for tech, but for me, Tech4Good is our most important theme this year: how the role of technology can have a positive social impact. We are living in a world with continuous technological change and in the right time to decide how these technologies need to be used/regulated for a positive impact. We exist in a very passionate time where everything for the future is still being decided.
What are your personal favourite moments of the conferences?
My favourite moment of the conference is the beginning of Day 1 when you walk into the hall and see everything in action. The energy of this event is unique. The show we put on is unbelievable and to see all of the hard work come to fruition is breathtaking.
Barcelona’s role as an international tech hub
What is it about Barcelona that enables the city to grow as a tech hub?
Barcelona is a great startup city for many reasons. The attractiveness of the city has meant that international companies or entrepreneurs are better established. Barcelona has become the third preferred hub for European founders. Obviously, a fundamental role is also played by factors such as having a high level of education at our universities, government support, low cost of living and the possibility of recruiting talent at reasonable costs compared to other cities such as San Francisco, New York, London or Berlin.
4YFN plays a key role in boosting the growth and internationalization of startups and also as an inspiring platform for young people to start their businesses. 4YFN attracts investors, startups and international corporations that allow the local ecosystem to expand its network of contacts and it’s also a source of inspiration for entrepreneurs to create companies and products with a much more global vision.
What is the role of Barcelona in the global startup ecosystem?
Barcelona’s ecosystem has developed a lot over the last six years and 4YFN has grown with it. You could say that we have been instrumental to each other’s success. It is absolutely certain that Barcelona is now home to some really big success stories, like SocialPoint, TravelPerk, Badi, Wallapop – and we are attracting big players in the tech industry from outside too.
What is it that Barcelona still needs to work on? Is there anything holding it back?
We have amazing support for the startup ecosystem here from the public and private institutions that are helping Barcelona to become a tech hub. Where other cities and countries really succeed is by creating really competitive tax regimes to encourage startups.
What should the Barcelona ecosystem aim at, as opposed to becoming “the new Silicon Valley”?
I am from Barcelona and first and foremost, Barcelona should remain true to its creative spirit. That means ensuring that we promote local talent and enterprise without losing the identity that makes us unique. Creativity and design should always be at the core of the Barcelona ecosystem.
What tendencies do you expect to see grow in Barcelona in the next four years?
We are seeing a large influx of big tech businesses like Amazon, Facebook and the Nestle Digital Hub into Barcelona. This city has always been a hub for back-office operations for international business, but I think that trend will continue and drive opportunities for local businesses and people, as well as helping the ecosystem to thrive and expand beyond our borders. I am also expecting Barcelona to generate a Unicorn very soon. ☺
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