With 75,000 mobile enthusiasts from around the world descending into Barcelona for the annual Mobile World Congress, the chance to showcase and promote local startups and innovators is an unprecedented opportunity for the state of Catalonia.
On July 11, 2011, Barcelona was named Mobile World Capital for the seven-year period from 2012 to 2018, with support from the industry association GSMA and local government agencies.
The city has formed partnerships with other European countries to promote smart cities and regional innovation, and global ties to develop digitally-enhanced transportation, health and education. The m4all Programme aims to leverage mobiles to improve quality of life for all citizens despite their disabilities or their risk of social exclusion.
Catalonia has a strong consumer electronics presence, a competitive software development sector and a large industrial concentration. Government agencies such as Accio promote business growth, drive innovation, internationalisation and attract inward investment. Innovative projects created include the Personal Health Folder for the health sector, Sonar+D for creative industries and apparkB in the mobility & parking area.
A number of startups from Catalonia exhibited at MWC 2014; here is my pick of the more notable apps and products this year (see also my earlier reviews of startup showcases from Spain and South Korea).
AppsZoom was recently declared a winner in the ‘Best Mobile App Review Site’ category at the About.com Readers’ Choice Awards 2013. Its editorial team reviews thousands of apps, with recommendations as well as support in app promotion and distribution. AppsZoom is available for smartphones, tablets and desktop computers through native apps or web layouts.
Sixtemia specializes in developing apps for iOS and Android. Launched in 2008, it has helped major companies enter the mobile apps market. The company has designed over 150 apps for companies such as Zara (Inditex), FlaixFM, TV3, the Gran Teatre del Liceu, Pepe&Jeans, David Villa and Rosa Clará. More recent offerings include the Mobappi software platform and the SmartSales app for a corporate sales force.
InQbarna is a leading provider of mobile music apps. These include Splyce, promoted by Apple; Riffer, the micromusic network with over two million downloads; and Deej, the DJ mixing table for professionals. With the aim of empowering social music abilities, Inqbarna is working on its Social Music Apps project.
Fiabee provides a Cloud mobile collaboration platform for service providers, as well as a mobile device management (MDM) tool for handling documents. It operates in a B2B model on a range of platforms.
iSOCO was founded by five researchers in 1999 as a spin-off of the Institute of Artificial Intelligence Research (IIIA) of the Spanish High Council for Scientific Research (CSIC). It provides collaboration platforms for enhancing processes with semantic technology.
La Factoria provides a host of multimedia developments tools for app development, native OS programming, educational digital content, gamification, simulation and virtual reality. Related offerings include authoring tools and services for the publishing industry.
Soundkik is the old-fashioned jukebox on the latest smartphones. It creates a new way to interact with music by allowing users to choose what they want to listen to in their favourite venues. It also acts as a social network stay tuned to music trends and discovers new places, songs and people.
CompeGPS creates applications for outdoor trip management such as hiking, mountain biking, 4×4, paragliding and hang gliding. It has a comprehensive catalogue of topographic maps from around the world. TwoNav software combines all the standard functions of road navigators and traditional off-road capabilities.
AiscadMobile develops and distributes mobility products that provide bidirectional access between mobile devices and corporate servers. The platform allows users to consult and edit field data in real time. Features include positioning control, instant messaging and augmented reality, some available in a SaaS model.
Captio is a comprehensive solution for automating the management of business travel expenses. It eliminates time-wasting paperwork and improves the control and visibility of team expenses. As an expense reduction manager, it automatically transforms expense receipts into information the company can use to save money.
Effilogics Technologies has developed a technological platform for smart management of energy efficiency in buildings, including real-time energy and water control. With the effiMAP platform, managing operating costs by facilities managers is faster, easier and less complex. It combines Internet of Things with mobility.
Execus is a major player in social selling. It offers a platform to transform traditional sales teams into a mobile social sales force. Working together with corporate business development VPs and directors, the company develops world-class best practices, deploy them and train their sales teams to sell more using social networks.
Good Deal Solutions has developed offerings for digitising retailers’ loyalty programs and efficiently using promotional tactics to shoppers. Information is delivered and accessed via point-of-sale interactive kiosks, tablet-kiosks, apps and web interfaces. The multichannel platform also yields a wealth of statistics on shoppers.
IntesisHome is a service in the Cloud that provides a home control experience for users anywhere, anytime on their devices or browsers. Users can turn the air conditioning on before they arrive home, turn it off if they forget to do so after leaving home, set up a timer schedule, check energy consumption, receive alerts, and check past data.
MAGAZAPP is an online platform for retailers, publishers and other businesses to create their own digital magazines and brochures. Existing PDFs can also be converted into apps for smartphones, or websites. This can be a new way for retailers to distribute commercial catalogues on mobile platforms, without having to pick up too much technical knowledge.
Mobile High Security address corporate concerns of preventing information leaks and protecting data confidentiality. C-level executives can rely on a range of a robust, consistent solutions ranging from data to voice encryption solution. Solutions are designed for custom requirements of businesses and government.
OnTheBus helps transit riders plan trips and get to their destination as quickly as possible. The app goes far beyond timetables to offer real time departure and arrival information, trip planning and point-to-point navigation across public transit options (bus, tram, metro). By combining transit data from public sources (like transit authorities) with live inputs from the crowd, OnTheBus gives a complete real-time snapshot of what the trip will be like so users can save time. Some apps are designed for even visually impaired persons to use.
Many of the app startups in Barcelona are supported by the Catalonia Apps Association, a non-profit association of professionals who design, develop, publish and promote mobile apps. The association’s activities include product quality, staff training and visibility of the industry.
The city innovation agency Neàpolis works as a living lab ecosystem to facilitate and connect innovation through Public-Private-People Partnerships (PPPP) for user-driven open innovation. Its strategic projects are focused on mobile, creative industries, social innovation, civic engagement, smart cities and startup ecosystems. Participants include companies, social entrepreneurs, communities and research centres, who can co-create their solutions to user-driven environment needs.