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Gaudi, innovation and a new dig for victory

We could all do with a little bit of Gaudi to see us through 

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I was stopped dead in my tracks a couple of nights ago by a left turn that abruptly squared me face on to the stupendous Sagrada Familia in Barcelona. It looked utterly sensational, like a gigantic mother ship hovering before me. It made me think that maybe the Rev. Ron Hubbard visited this spot as a tiny whippersnapper and the back story he created grew into Scientology? A whimsical thought.


Barcelona, the city of Gaudi, of Joan Miro and a hub of technological prowess has creative innovation fabricated into its DNA. Mobile World Congress (MWC17) is in full sail, as was the IoT Stars event we attended at the copper-lit brewery, Antiga Fàbrica Damm, curated by Rudy de Waele of Shift 2020 and brand ambassador for SmartCitiesWorld.

Here, 10 start-ups in the new digital eco system presented their innovations to a jury in a Dragon’s Den scenario but with the added delight of beer (hurray).

Winners of the night were the Barcelona-based U- Smart Toys, which is in the business of digitally transforming traditional outdoor children’s playgrounds, and Omnio, a plug-and-play enabler for the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). We’ll be tracking these companies and others that presented on the night in the weeks ahead.

I feel as though I’m moving in a swirling cadenza of digital innovation, and on reluctant return to a drizzly, grey Britain, waiting (how convenient!) is the newly published Digital Strategy: the UK government’s plan to prepare the UK for the digital economy with a Brexit twist.

The strategy lists seven ideals that it’s aiming for and the initiatives that are being put in place to help us get there. But this is not a definitive set of instructions, rather an early marker, so nicely described as “an ongoing conversation between digital businesses and government.”

This nation’s prep for a digital future that is fast approaching feels nothing short of the ‘Dig for Victory’ campaign during the war.

A job’s got to be done, and everyone has to get involved, from citizens reskilling to UK businesses providing training. Investment is being targeted at AI, 5G, IoT and immersion technologies. Not getting on the programme is not an option.

And it seems that along with knitting, jam-making and the iconic retro Nokia 3310 mobile phone relaunched in Barcelona this week, libraries are back -- identified in the plan as crucial in the fight against the digital divide and skills acquisition.

The truth is, we’re on fast forward, surfing on this next technological wave. It’s time to unleash the Gaudi in us all.


Melony Rocque

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