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Catherine Antheunissens,

The 22@Network BCN association, along with the US Consul General, held today an event to strengthen ties between districts, cities and countries in order to reinforce entrepreneurship and innovation in the 22@ district.

The event took place this morning with the collaboration and participation of Katie Stana, US Consul General, from the US Consulate General in Barcelona and the Universitat Pompeu Fabra. Stana has featured the important role of cities and municipalities in the implementation of innovation, especially in relation to the “big challenge of promoting the optimal conditions to foster entrepreneurship and retain the talent".

The aim pursued by the 22@Network BCN with the discussion was to learn from other successful ecosystems’ experiences and expert voices, in order to defend the interests of the associates by fully acknowledging what is missing and what can be done in Barcelona.

To get to know more about other ecosystems the event has included a presentation given by professor Michael Goldberg, Executive Director of the Veale Institute for Entrepreneurship at Case Western Reserve University (Cleveland, Ohio, USA) and creator of the Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) called “Beyond Silicon Valley: Growing Entrepreneurship in Transitioning Economies”. Goldberg has introduced Cleveland’s innovation ecosystem, while pointing out that "there is no correct way to promote innovation and entrepreneurship” taking into account that “each ecosystem is unique, so we must learn from different success cases while understanding our differences".

Goldberg has highlighted the “amazing talent” he had the chance to meet during his stay in Barcelona, the “remarkable power the city has to attract people” and “how much mobility of capitals there is within Europe". These elements, according to Goldberg, add huge potential to the development of the 22@ district.

To deepen into the 22@ innovation district, Xavier Simó, President of the Entrepreneurship Commission at 22@Network BCN, has defined five essential traits that characterize the idiosyncrasy of the 22@. Those are, according to Simó, “connection, so our developments can be exported; innovation, so that we create new and better things; talent, so that we have trained people; interoperability, to ensure we connect all kind of companies; and sustainability, a very important element so that we take into account the environment's protection in each of our operations."

Simó has also set some lessons the 22@ has learned during its 20-year existence.  Among the main lessons stated by the President of the Entrepreneurship Commission, there were some major demands from the association: the call for public sector investment and public and private collaboration, also when it comes to public policy, or the need to generate and attract skilled and motivated talent or to promote and encourage the engagement and collaboration of educational centers and the private sector.

In this regard, Albert Domingo, Director of @UPF Ventures, who has also participated in the discussion, has stated that "the 22@ gathers more than 30.000 students between UPF, UB and UPC, which represents an enormous concentration of talent”. Therefore, as a public educational center, Domingo has declared that “it is our duty to support our students coordinately through different initiatives so that their ideas can be boosted and launched into the market".

Overall, Simó has called for the openness of Barcelona to the international community and has claimed for the commitment of all actors that interact within the city and the 22@ district to generate positive impact. As Simó has emphasized, the association works toward these goals with great leadership, organization and inclusiveness to “become part of the solution”.


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