Cisco Systems to set up an innovation lab in an old factory of Barcelona's 22@ technological district

The Mayor of Barcelona, Xavier Trias, emphasised that Cisco’s new centre will put the Catalan capital “in the forefront” of smart city projects. Cisco will invest €4.5 million in its new centre working on electric mobility, smart lighting and other urban projects. On top of this, the American company will also invest another amount, yet to be determined, to renovate the Ca l’Alier factory, which is owned by the City Council and has been transferred to the American company in exchange for the renovation. In addition, Trias – who is on an official trip to the United States – and the Mayor of San Francisco, Edwin M. Lee, agreed to increase the cooperation between the two cities, starting with setting up a regular direct flight connection.

CNA / Gaspar Pericay Coll

May 14, 2013 11:15 PM

San José (ACN).- The American multinational company Cisco Systems will open an innovation centre in Barcelona, in the historical Ca l’Alier building, located in the heart of the 22@ technological and business district. Cisco will develop research on electric mobility, smart lighting and other urban projects. The decision was announced during the official visit to the United States of the Catalan capital’s Mayor, Xavier Trias, who met Cisco’s Executive Vice President, Wim Elfring, on Monday. Trias emphasised that Cisco’s new centre will put Barcelona “in the forefront” of smart city projects. Barcelona City Council, which owns the Ca l’Alier factory, will transfer the building to the American company in exchange for its full renovation, the cost of which is yet to be determined. On top of this, Cisco will invest an additional €4.5 million in its new centre.  While waiting for Ca l’Alier’s renovation work to be finished, the City Council will assist Cisco Systems to find a provisional office space to kick off its innovation and research activities in Barcelona “immediately”. Barcelona has the strategic objective of becoming one of the world’s flagships among smart cities and is currently the world capital of mobile technologies, since it hosts each year the Mobile World Congress (the main international event of the cell phone related industries). Besides his visit to Cisco Systems’ headquarters in San José, Trias also visited the offices of WhatsApp, which are also in Silicon Valley. Trias also met the Mayor of San José, Chuck Reed, and they agreed to set up cooperation projects regarding smart cities, energy self-sufficiency, business development and economic internationalisation. In addition, in the morning, Trias met with the Mayor of San Francisco, Edwin M. Lee, and they both agreed to increase the existing cooperation between the two cities. Lee and Trias put at the forefront the request to set up a regular direct flight connection between the cities.

Cisco Systems, which is one of the world’s top IT companies and mainly specialises in setting up networks, will have of one of its main innovation and research centres on smart cities in Barcelona. The project has been under discussion for the last couple of years but it was finally decided on early this week, during the Mayor of Barcelona’s official trip to the United States. Trias proposed the free transfer of an historical factory building from the 19th century to Cisco Systems in exchange for the American company taking on the required full renovation of the building. Cisco’s Executive VP Wim Elfring accepted the proposal. Cisco announced that, on top of the renovation costs – which are yet to be calculated, it will invest €4.5 million in the new innovation centre. Trias thanked the American multinational for choosing Barcelona.

Barcelona, at the forefront of smart city projects

The Barcelona delegation explained to the Cisco representatives that the Catalan capital is a pioneer in the use of parking technologies equipped with sensors, the implementation of smart public lighting, the creation of virtual clusters, the genesis of a technological and business district such as 22@ and running electronic administration projects. Trias emphasised that these projects have the goal “of improving the citizens’ everyday life”. The Mayor also added that the City Council already has the extension of these technologies in mind when new works have to be undertaken throughout the city. “People will start witnessing changes in the months to come”, said Trias, regarding Barcelona’s transformation into a smart city.

Cisco will “immediately” start innovation projects in Barcelona

While the old Ca l’Alier factory is being renovated, Cisco and the City Council are already looking for a provisional office space in order to “immediately” start its project in Barcelona. The temporary space will occupy around 1,000 square metres. It will be significantly smaller than Ca l’Alier, but enough to start the initial activities.

Organising the ‘Internet of Things World Forum’ in Barcelona in late October

In addition, Cisco will also organise for the first time in Barcelona the ‘Internet of Things World Forum’, which will run between the 29th and 31st of October 2013. The event aims to attract between 500 and 700 participants from the world’s main Internet companies. The ‘Internet of Things’ refers to the connection by IP of people, processes, data and everyday objects – such as television sets, refrigerators and cars – in order to improve peoples’ lives in areas such as healthcare, education, transport, leisure and safety. Additionally, Cisco will also contribute to implementing the ‘City Protocol Society’ in Barcelona.

Visiting WhatsApp’s headquarters

After visiting Cisco Systems’ headquarters, the Catalan delegation went to the headquarters of one of the most popular smart phone application companies, WhatsApp. Trias met with the two founders of WhatsApp, Brian Acton and Jan Koun. The Mayor of Barcelona asked about using the instant message application to send information from the City Council to citizens, for instance in the case of emergencies. Furthermore, Acton and Koun expressed their interest in how their programme became so popular in Barcelona, where 98% of the smart phones in the city have it.

Meeting with the Mayor of San José

Furthermore, on Monday afternoon (California time), Trias ended his visit to Silicon Valley with a meeting with San José’s Mayor, Chuck Reed. The Catalan Mayor and Reed agreed to set up cooperation projects between the two cities for the first time, especially regarding smart cities, energy self-sufficiency, business development and economic internationalisation.

San Francisco and Barcelona ask for a direct and regular flight connection

In the morning, the Mayor of the Catalan capital met with his San Francisco counterpart, Edwin M. Lee. Trias and the Mayor of San Francisco met in the American city’s town hall and asked for a direct and regular flight connection. Barcelona is the fourth European city with the largest number of tourists after London, Paris and Rome and it is also the world’s fourth largest port for cruise ships, after the three main ones in Florida. San Francisco and Barcelona became twin cities in 2010. Now, both mayors agreed to expand the cooperation agreement, in areas such as culture, economic projection, mobile technology, smart cities and transport. Besides, Lee was very satisfied with the cooperation set up between “two international cities of the 21st century”. The American Mayor praised the cooperation projects undertaken in areas such as waste reduction and sustainable mobility. He also underlined the “enthusiasm” of the Catalan delegation.

“Barcelona is becoming the economic capital of the Mediterranean area and the South of Europe. We prioritise people’s welfare and life quality through pioneer sectors such as electric mobility, biomedicine, logistics and mobile technology”, explained Trias. In addition, the Catalan Mayor invited Lee to attend the next Smart City congress in Barcelona.