Barcelona Needs To Import Talent

03/03/2017 | Inlea


Inlea’s headquarters are located in Barcelona. Our CEO, Xavier Simó, writes an article for the Ecoonomia section of El Español every fortnight. His latest issue was about the fact that Barcelona needs to import talent. Here is a translation of the article. You can find the original article here.

Barcelona Needs To Import Talent

We already have the Mobile World Congress and we will hear politicians say that Barcelona is or will be the Silicon Valley of the South of Europe. I smile because I remember very similar phrases about other locations around the world. I remember one of our Israeli consultants telling me nine years ago “Tel-Aviv is the world’s second Silicon Valley”, I also remember a meeting with an official of the Russian Education Ministry in the Moscow American embassy affirming that “we are creating the Russian Silicon Valley in Skolkovo”. I also recall a press conference in el Rincón de la Victoria in Andalusia where a member of the Employment Council of the Junta de Andalucía proclaimed that “Andalusia has its very own Silicon Valley in the coast of Malaga”.

Well then, Barcelona can be a Silicon Valley if it counts with the following six elements the Californians took over 50 years to achieve (from 1917 to 1971): industry, knowledge, public investment, venture capital, global market and talent.

The technological industry – first element – of Silicon Valley becan around 100 years ago. The United States entered World War One in 1917 and the American fleet of the San Francisco port introduced the first worldwide coverage radio communication system thanks to the technology created by the Federal Telegraph Corporation in Palo Alto. This technological advance was vital to the communication between American warships that needed to avoid the German submarines.

The Federal Telegraph Corporation was created by Cyril Elwell, a Stanford University Graduate. The Knowledge – the second element – that comes from this educational entity has been vital, but especially after the creation of the Stanford Industrial Park in 1951, which allowed the creation of new innovating companies.

After the Second World War, the United States began an arms race and a space race against the USSR that ended after the fall of the Berlin wall. During that time, public investment – third element – from the North American Federal Government was continuous to drive innovation in communication and weapons.

Once Neil Armstrong got to the Moon and the United States had won the space race, public investment decreased. In its place, in the early 70’s, the new venture capital industry appeared – fourth element – which transferred spatial innovation to consumer products for a global market – fifth element –.

And finally, the sixth element was the disposal of talent from around the world, which was achieved through the Hart-Celler Act of 1965, the law that abolished country quotas for the entry of immigrants to the United States. The new law divided by categories the issue of visas and allowed companies located in Silicon Valley to attract highly qualified and talented employees. For this reason, these companies have risen up against Donald Trump and his immigration laws.

Barcelona must continue to work on all these elements, although at this moment, the sixth element is the most relevant one: talent. Restrictive immigration rules are emerging in the United States, United Kingdom and quite possibly France; therefore, creating a great opportunity to attract worldwide talent to Barcelona, taking advantage of the great display the World Mobile Congress provides. We need to facilitate the entry of talent, regardless of where it comes from.