Highlights from Barcelona Tech Spirit 2023

- December 18, 2023

Tech Spirit, organized by Tech Barcelona, took place at the symbolic Llotja de Mar on December 11th and 12th. Nearly 4000 people attended the event’s fourth edition, solidifying its place in Barcelona’s entrepreneurial and innovation community.

The event welcomed business leaders, and industry movers and shakers for 2 days of collaborative learning, networking, and growth. Read on for some top highlights. 

Spotlight Sessions 

Founders, venture capitalists, scientists, and industry trailblazers took to the Caixa Bank and Tech Barcelona stage to share inspiring and thought-provoking ideas. Key themes included artificial intelligence, digital transformation, entrepreneurship, sustainability, and deep tech.

The lineup featured 140 speakers and 60 sessions, complemented by side events including workshops and pitch competitions.

Barcelona’s Deputy Mayor, Jordi Valls, and Albert Castellanos, Secretary of Business and Competitiveness of the Government of Catalonia, kicked off the event. They were followed by speakers such as Ferran Soriano, General Manager at Manchester City, who discussed business model disruption in the sports industry; Enric Delgado, CTO at IBM Spain, who explored Quantum Computing and the Utility Era; and Giulio Ruffini, CTO and co-founder of Neurolectrics, who provided intriguing insights about Neurotwins and the future of brain stimulation. 

Author Catalina Carvajal

The recent launch of Gemini added to the anticipation surrounding Pablo Carlier’s session as the Head of Data Analytics & AI Iberia at Google. Pablo delved into the transformative potential of this technology based on two fundamental aspects. Firstly, the ways machines have learned to communicate with and understand us, democratizing access to artificial intelligence.

Secondly, the speed of change that these technologies have undergone in just one year. Pablo emphasized how Gemini stands out from other AI models due to its multimodal nature, which can understand text, images, videos, audio, and code, making it a tool that has the potential to help us solve from day-to-day problems to humanity’s most pressing challenges.  

One particularly interesting presentation was the “Mark Zuckerberg combs his hair like Marcus Aurelius” session by Aleix Valls, CEO and Founder of Liquid Lab Ventures. Apart from addressing Mark Zuckerberg’s and other tech leaders’ fixation with Roman emperors, Alex discussed a pressing issue—the EU AI Act, marking the first regulatory measures on artificial intelligence. Alex questioned the motives behind this regulation and its potential implications, particularly favoring larger companies such as OpenAI over emerging ones with limited capital and resources for lobbying. 

Alex also shared a thought-provoking analogy. When people get asked what they would do after winning the lottery, the typical response is often, “I would stop working.” Paradoxically, humans have won the lottery with AI as it will make our work way easier. However, the prevailing concern is that AI might take away our jobs.

So, why are concerns about AI happening?

In an ideal scenario, the productivity gains brought about by AI should enable workers to perform their tasks more efficiently, increase output, and spend more time pursuing their passions. However, what might happen is that the benefits of increased productivity will primarily accrue to clients, resulting in price reductions. While this may benefit clients and companies, it may not necessarily improve conditions for workers. Alex predicts a future where companies could have billion-dollar valuations with only four employees, resulting in a systematic shift in our understanding of work.

During the event’s second day, Marco Marinucci, founder and CEO of Mind the Bridge, delivered compelling insights into Barcelona’s thriving tech ecosystem. According to Marco, the city has reached 409 scaleups, amassing impressive funding totals of $8.7B, proving its ability to compete effectively with other well-established European tech hubs. 

The event concluded with an exciting session about Corporate Open Innovation. Belén Rallo, Head of Open Innovation at Mango StartUp Studio; Laura Gil, Digital Transformation Director at Damm; Catalina Serveiro, Return of Innovation Director at Veolia; and Javier González, Open Innovation Manager at ACCIONA, shared valuable insights on strategies and challenges associated with fostering innovation within corporate frameworks.

Tech Spirit has become a significant meeting point in Barcelona, attracting top-notch speakers and key leaders in the ecosystem. With its ongoing success, the event is poised to remain a catalyst for knowledge sharing and advancing the digital and technological landscape in the region.