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The World Mobile Congress, held annually in Barcelona, may not seem like a startup-focused event at first glance, but it has a section called Four Years from Now (4YFN) that targets digital startups. 4YFN was created to help startups grow their businesses by showcasing their products and connecting them with investors and customers. The event was originally staged in a different venue before moving into the MWC exhibition space which has potentially given participating startups access to a wider range of interested parties. The move into MWC has allowed for synergies with the longer-established event, attracting small delegations of corporate innovators who may be primarily at MWC but take time to talk to interesting startups.

4YFN is technology agnostic and aims to attract early-stage ventures from all over the world, not just Europe. The event includes representation from companies working in areas beyond wireless technologies, with an increasing focus on B2B and deep tech. Digital healthcare was a popular segment at the event this year, with 16% of participating companies specializing in this field. Despite the diverse range of companies, the ultimate goal remains to help startups grow their businesses by connecting them with potential investors and customers.

For startup tech companies like Qilimanjaro, attending 4YFN and MWC presents an opportunity to connect with other startups, investors, potential customers, politicians, policymakers, and corporate businesses. Qilimanjaro, a Barcelona-based quantum computing startup, won the Best Digital Startup award at 4YFN. Winning the award has had a significant impact on the positioning of the company, as it showcased their unique approach to quantum computing using analog semiconductors. Marta Estarellas, the CEO of Qilimanjaro, emphasizes the importance of attending events like 4YFN and MWC to open lines of communication with potential buyers and foster connections within the technology ecosystem.

At 4YFN, about 80% of the 901 participating companies were startups, contributing to the growth of Barcelona’s ecosystem and fostering connections with ecosystems from Europe and beyond. While some companies attend the event for multiple years, it is typically aimed at businesses at the Series A or Series B stage. As companies grow and mature, they may return as speakers rather than participants. The event offers startups the opportunity to showcase their products and technologies on a global stage, attracting potential investors, customers, and partners. As technology continues to evolve rapidly, events like 4YFN and MWC play a vital role in connecting startups with key stakeholders in the industry and fostering collaboration and innovation.

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