A record-breaking MWC

With 108K visitors, this year’s mobile technology event saw a 7% hike in attendance over 2016

This year’s Mobile World Congress was, once again, a record-breaking event. The 2017 mobile technology congress ended last Thursday on a high note: with a new record number of visitors (108,000) which means a 7 per cent increase over the previous year, according to GSMA, the firm that hosts the event. Unlike in 2016, this year GSMA’s CEO John Hoffman did not leave in a huff following disruption in public transport due to industrial action by underground train staff, which left train platforms crammed with stranded passengers last year. The executive noted that the 2017 MWC is “the greatest and most successful yet”. For four days, participants from all over the world filled the halls of Fira de l’Hospitalet and Montjuïc.

The year’s most exciting technology event achieved another goal that it had set itself for 2017: to increase the number of female attendees. While in 2016 21 per cent of all participants were women, this year the figure rose to 23 per cent. This is a 14 per cent rise, which is greater than the event’s overall growth. Nevertheless, the percentage still falls short of the 25 per cent mark which Hoffman had anticipated during a press conference prior to the event.

The Fira’s General Manager, Constantí Serrallonga, also welcomed these figures and emphasised that 55 per cent of participants were top executives, including 6,100 CEOs from all sorts of companies. Over 2,300 firms in the mobile technology sector attended this year’s MWC, but also present were companies from other sectors, such as banking, health care and automotive. In fact, cars kept a high profile throughout the event, both in terms of manufacturers as well as ISPs who sang the praises of connected vehicles. The 2017 WMC also saw a record number of government delegations, with a 14 per cent increase and as many as 60 ministers.

The number of parallel events also grew this year. 4YFN, an entrepreneurship congress, set a new attendance record with 19,123 participants, a 60 per cent hike over the year before. Up to 47 per cent of all MWC participants were drawn to the meeting point for start-ups. Seventy per cent of those visitors were foreign. To top it all up, 4YFN have announced that 2018 will be more international, with an edition held in Silicon Valley.

The first edition of the Youth Mobile Festival (YoMo), aimed at young people, had 11,000 students visit it. The Mobile World Capital foundation staged a Mobile Week, which aimed to bring the congress to the local residents and to every neighbourhood in the Catalan capital, had 2,000 participants in this first year.

Where is the limit?

According to GSMA’s own figures, this year the congress meant an overall income of over €465m for Catalonia, with over 13,200 new part-time jobs. Despite the MWC’s unstoppable growth, Serrallonga does not believe that the event —which will be held in Barcelona until 2023— has reached its maximum capacity yet. The General Manager of Fira noted that “last year we thought we had, with 101,000 visitors, but it’s got even better”.

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