Fira de Barcelona has taken stock of 2017, another exceptional year in terms of results and activities, and presented an equally ambitious outlook for 2018.

The data from 2017 are very eloquent: turnover of nearly 188 million euros, the second record in as many years, with 141 fairs held and more than 1,000 activities in relation with these fairs.

Constantí Serrallonga, the CEO of the institution gave his view of these results to Firanews:

2017 was a very important year for Fira de Barcelona because of the number and quality of the events held and the results that confirm the progressive tendencies of recent years. Our institution has continued to fulfil its role as a driver of society and the economy, supporting business and entrepreneurs and exerting its financial and economic influence, generating resources that are directed towards boosting business and reinforcing the economy of the region.

– In a more favourable economic context…

Yes, but in a more complex environment. Fira has listened carefully to the needs and wishes of its clients, in constant contact with exhibitors and visitors. The results motivate us to tackle global challenges, competitiveness and the need to respond to the new demands of industry, society and technology.

Ada Colau, Josep Lluís Bonet and Constantí Serrallonga presenting the results of 2017

– Is Fira de Barcelona the leader in Spain?

It is unquestionably the leader in industrial and professional shows, which bring in the most qualified visitors and this is visible in the financial results. It is a vital international business platform and has developed a strategy aimed at boosting foreign trade, innovation, knowledge, technology and networking. It is also clear, though, that we are looking at where we are in Europe and we want to be even more of a reference.

– The classic trade fair is changing?

All the salons organized by Fira in 2017 have had very good results. There is a process of transformation underway that affects some of the fairs we may consider more “traditional” in order to adapt them to the new demands of society and the markets and the changes that are taking place in technology. The Barcelona Car Show and Construmat are obvious examples, or Automobile Barcelona and Barcelona Building Construmat, as they are now known. There is much more to this than just a change of name, however, because they have been thoroughly revised to offer suitable answers to the situation today.

– One of the main factors seems to be the new industries, with Barcelona Industry Week…

Barcelona Industry Week, which was held last autumn, was a great success, with eight related events taking place together, such as applied chemistry, the Internet of Things, additive manufacturing… This year we will be running it again, and it is clear that Fira wants to remain alongside companies in their processes of adapting to the transformations that are shaping industry 4.0.

– There will also be a week dedicated to sustainability

Yes, that will take place in November with the celebration of the Smart City Expo World Congress (created in 2011 and recently converted into an international reference for smart cities in their search for solutions to questions of mobility, sustainability, inclusion…) together with Iwater and Circular Economy. It should be noted that the success of the Smart City Expo is greater year after year and has been exported to other countries and cities. In 2018 it will be held in Puebla (Mexico), Buenos Aires (Argentina) and Casablanca (Morocco), while in Curitiba (Brazil) and Hyderabad (India) it is being held for the first time.

Celebrating the salon Energías Renovables Cuba

– Is it interesting to go abroad?

Yes, very. Fira’s activities abroad, which have grown significantly, is a very important tool for national companies who want to expand internationally and take part in the events held in different places. Besides the cities that are hosting their own editions of Smart City, we currently take part in fairs held in Cuba, Qatar and Mexico, where the company Fira Barcelona Mexico has been created with a local partner to participate in salons on smart cities, education, cars, etc., along with Fira Qatar, which was set up in 2015 as a joint venture with the Elan Group of Doha. Then there is the work that Fira does as a consultancy in other countries, making the best possible use of its experience.

– All this without even mentioning the Mobile World Congress…

The MWC has a really positive effect on the economy of the city and, by extension, the whole of Catalonia and Spain, making a decisive contribution to the development of the technological and industrial fabric of Barcelona and its metropolitan area. The role of the Mobile World Congress Capital Barcelona Foundation is remarkable in this sense.

– Fira is betting on this…

We work very closely with the GSMA, the association that organizes this event and represents the interests of the mobile ecosystem, as well as the administrations and many other entities to ensure that this edition will be a success once again.

– What is the outlook like for 2018?

We will strive to be more international, more competitive, sustainable and innovative, offering support for our clients, business and the economic and social structures of our region. The prospects are very good too, we expect to host more than 140 events and reach a turnover of 188 million.

– Is there any particular event that stands out?

I think that the celebration of the three main trade fairs of the food industry will be significant -Alimentaria and Hostelco will take place at the same time in April and this will be one of the most important events in the food, catering and gastronomy sectors-; then there is Industry Week in October, as we mentioned, and Sustainability Week in November. Taken together, these are events that show Fira’s dedication to innovation, talent and technology. There are a lot of itinerant international salons and congresses, such as Gastech, which is the world’s largest event for natural gas and liquid gas, or the World Ophthalmology Congress, to name just a few. Without forgetting, of course, the Mobile World Congress.