Pere Navarro is special delegate of the State at the Consorci de la Zona Franca de Barcelona. (Image courtesy of CZFB)

Building on the huge success of its first year, Barcelona New Economy Week (BNEW) is back this October with double the number of topics and speakers. Investment Monitor spoke to Pere Navarro, special delegate of the State at the Consorci de la Zona Franca de Barcelona, to find out what’s in store for this year’s attendees of the annual B2B networking event.

Q: Can you explain what BNEW offers to the global business community?

Pere Navarro (PN): BNEW is an innovative and unprecedented event because of its televised hybrid format and its multisectoral approach. As a 100% B2B meeting, it enables the business community to share and expand knowledge related to the new economy, in addition to accessing a wide list of contacts thanks to its online networking platform and the BVillage tool. Among its advantages stands out the creation of productive relationships and the maximisation of opportunities for each business, since it is a unique way to discover the latest innovations and trends in each sector.

Its format drives interaction with the other participants, connecting people from all continents and from different sectors. Last year we had about 11,000 attendees from 111 countries (especially from Europe, America and Africa, but also from Asia), and in this edition we hope to surpass those numbers.

Q: 2020 was a huge success, how do you plan to top it in 2021?

PN: This year we’re reinforcing our commitment to the event, doubling the number of topics and speakers. We’re also consolidating our BVillage platform that will be hosting 400 companies instead of last year’s 128.

From the 389 speakers that we had in 2020, we’ll reach 800 in this new edition. In order to do this, we enlarged the number of venues hosting the event so that, as well as Estació de França, Casa SEAT and Movistar Center, we have added three new ones: La Pedrera, Roca Barcelona Gallery and the Antiga Fàbrica Estrella Damm. Apart from these, we will also be carrying out leisure and culture events at the Boqueria market. All these emblematic venues will host the five BNEW conferences that we delivered last year (Logistics, Digital Industry, Ecommerce, Economic Zones and Real Estate), as well as the five new ones that we’ve added this year with a more transversal perspective: Mobility, Sustainability, Talent, Science & City.

Q: Can you explain this year’s ten conferences?

PN: As I was saying, we have added five more transversal conferences to our range of topics, all under the new economy umbrella.

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For the second year in a row, we will deliver the BNEW Logistics and BNEW Ecommerce conferences that, among other topics, will address female leadership in the logistics sector, the reduction of emissions in transport, the commerce future in Spain and the retail new economic challenges. Other conferences that we will deliver again will be BNEW Economic Zones, which will analyze the role of economic zones in economic recovery and boosting global trade; and BNEW Digital Industry, which will address topics such as new manufacturing technologies, the digitisation of the industry, sustainable solutions within a digital future, and the impact of 5G technology on the industry.

Of course, we will also repeat the BNEW Real Estate, which will focus on aspects of great interest such as the decent housing right, the new generations’ real estate vision and the new financing systems of the Proptech companies.

Regarding this year’s new topics, mobility will be a main player at the event with the BNEW Mobility conference, which will deal with the future of mobility and the latest trends, as well as alternative energy solutions for sustainable mobility. BNEW Talent will be also an outstanding conference, where we will discuss the vision, strategy and innovation that leaders require to attract, appeal and manage talent.

We should not forget about sustainability, a highly strategic factor for companies. BNEW Sustainability will focus on the keys to sustainability in large sectors such as food or fashion, as well as challenges such as climate change or waste management. Likewise, science has also become one of the great challenges of the last year and a half due to the pandemic, and at BNEW Science we will discuss how science and innovation are becoming more and more relevant.

Lastly, we will deliver BNEW City where the event will bring Barcelona’s culture, design and gastronomy closer to all participants, a great added value of the city.

Q: How were these ten topics selected?

PN: Each topic chosen to be part of BNEW corresponds to a sector with a leading role within the new economy. That is why they all have their own entity, but they become even more important when put together with the rest: they are interconnected and offer a global vision of what makes up the new economy, its common denominator.

Q: Is there a general theme for 2021?

PN: The second BNEW edition is very focused on innovation, talent and sustainability, always within the framework of the 4.0 economy. These three aspects are at the center of the Consorci de la Zona Franca de Barcelona’s strategic approach. Likewise, BNEW’s main objective is to boost global economic recovery and position the city as the capital of the new economy.

Q: BNEW has kept the hybrid format for 2021, is this the new normality?

PN: BNEW was already born as a hybrid event in order to be able to connect people from all over the world and from any economic sector at a particularly difficult time at a global level. For this reason, we have had a unique platform from the beginning that not only enables us to follow all the debates simultaneously but also to network digitally with the use of artificial intelligence.

Our goal is that it lasts over time, keeping the essence that it was created with, although we would like physical assistance to increase when the health situation improves. However, BNEW has clearly created a global precedent in the events sector, finding solutions that will allow adding value to any type of event that takes place in the future.

Q: What appeal does Barcelona offer to a company that wants to invest or move there?

PN: Over the years, Barcelona has become a global and constantly evolving city. It has a strong, consolidated and diverse business fabric, and presents great potential in terms of digitisation, innovation and progress. That is why it has great appeal for companies.

In the “Top 10 Tech Cities of the Future 2020/2021” ranking published by FDI magazine, Barcelona ranks eighth position for its prospects and investments in innovation, technology and start-ups. Without a doubt, it is a city prepared to become the capital of the new economy and BNEW wants to keep on making all these aspects visible.

Q: Is there anything you would like to add?

PN: Yes, I would like to highlight the importance of public-private collaboration, both for BNEW and for any successful innovative initiative. In our case, at BNEW 2021 Servihabitat will once again be our main sponsor together with AGBAR, the Ministry of Transport, Mobility and Urban Agenda of the Spanish Government and the City of Barcelona.

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