The Mobile World Congress happens every year in Barcelona. Something like 75,000 delegates descend on the Catalan capital from all over the world to discuss all things mobile.
For a British minister, it is a heartening event to attend, for quite a few reasons.
First, the British presence is huge; there are some 200 British companies in attendance with stands, the second highest country presence after the US. Secondly, a lot of these companies have been helped by the excellent work of the Government’s trade body, UKTI.
Company after company told me they had been helped to attend by UKTI, and had secured a presence and location in the vast exhibition centre with an impact far greater than they could have managed on their own. All of them make quality contacts over the four days, and many win significant business.
It was fantastic to meet new and innovative UK companies like Pixelpin, Magicsolver, Truphone, Bluenio, Active8rlives, Mindspeed, Revector, Rockshore and Vision247.
Thirdly, it’s good to catch up with companies which invest in the UK. Take Airwatch, a US business that had four UK employees in 2011. It now has 220 and is growing fast. Their European headquarters are in the UK because of transport, skills, and investment climate.
The chief executive of Cisco told me that half his engineers in Europe are based in the UK; something he did not envisage 5 years ago, but he’s backing the UK because of our investment climate and engagement with his business.
These are tough economic times but the UK has a great success story to tell when it comes to technology and mobile. I was delighted a trip to Barcelona brought that home to me.