Barcelona, ​​’fintech hub’ and capital of technological humanism

Catalonia has always been a country of entrepreneurs. Despite having lost political weight, it still has the operational centers where innovation and development take place. Investment projects fintech They are one of the greatest attractions for investors and a potential that we must not miss. But by themselves they will not make a difference. We need more.

The data is clear. Barcelona has become the fourth preferred city in Europe to settle, after London, Paris and Berlin, according to Savills Aguirre Newman, who has created an index of Fintech occupation in Europe. What does Barcelona have that attracts talent and investment? Undoubtedly, an avant-garde tradition that from the nineteenth century knew how to get ahead and be the engine of change. Capital, ideas and a geostrategic location that placed it as hub of world trade. Again, now, it is in the eye of the hurricane. He has in his hand a new opportunity to become the financial market, now hand in hand with the fintech.

According to data from Pitchbook, Barcelona has attracted more than 182 million euros of capital from fintech in the last five years and industries such as Blockchain, according to the Generalitat de Catalunya, will invoice more than 60 million euros in the next 5 years. Barcelona has already raised more than 2,700 million in the last 4 years (Dealroom) in capital investment in startup.

The city and its metropolitan area have specialized in biotechnology, electronic commerce and information and communication technologies (ICT). In addition, the pandemic has accelerated the digitization of financial services throughout Europe and Barcelona may become a hub knowledge of new technologies. In fact, there are experts who predict that fintech they will be one of the sectors that will emerge stronger from the pandemic.

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The main attributes that make it possible, according to the aforementioned report by Savills Aguirre Newman, are a innovation environment with top-level universities; moderate prices for salaries and offices (represents 65% of operating costs); quality of life with affordable housing prices; and professionals prepared with diversity in languages. I add that, in addition, it has good universities and research centers that reinforce innovation. And a strong industrial sector that is committed to innovation to remain competitive: robotics, artificial intelligence, analytics and big data, for example.

Without humanism, there is no future

We can get badges with this data. Also, say that we have the Mobile Word Congress, the 4YFN, the Smart City Congress, or that we will have the Integrated Systems Europe that will arrive in 2021 (if the pandemic allows it). But we need something more. Barcelona’s pulse should not tremble: it is essential to unite innovation with social commitment.

There are already and have been various initiatives in this regard. From the attempt of the – at that time – Secretary of State for Digital Agenda, José María Lassalle, to create a forum similar to Davos during the MWC that would talk about the impact of technologies on people, to various initiatives proposed by the City Council to debate the future and implications of the sector, such as the Ciutat Oberta biennials of thought.

Without a doubt, one of the key moments in promoting this idea was the presentation of the document Barcelona, ​​global capital of technological humanism, by José María Lassalle and the political consultant Antoni Gutiérrez-Rubí, during a series of conferences sponsored by the Círculo de Economía.

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The novelty of this conference was the commitment to a Barcelona as hub fintech technoethical, that is, technological humanism also in fintech. The city has a tradition of peace, social justice, equality or ecology, which defines it, and these values ​​must be added to this technological revolution, integrating the most emerging and promising trends to rethink the world and the new reality. . As Lasalle said, stop thinking about “Smart cities” to think about “Smart citizens” and “approach the issue in a more inclusive and participatory way, where public policies play a central role to deactivate the negative externalities of technology ”.

I fully agree with this idea and I advocate continuing to debate, but building. Without focusing the debate on the person, the future may be more dystopian than utopian. A mistake that nobody wants to make, especially because it is the future in which we will have to live.

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