While GSMA MWC Barcelona has long welcomed the biggest and most established names in the connectivity ecosystem, MWC is also home to one of Europe’s leading startup events – 4YFN.

Over the years, 4YFN has convened thousands of founders, startups and investors from around the world. And this year 4YFN celebrates a special milestone - its 10th anniversary edition!

4YFN has driven a decade of impact for the digital startup ecosystem during this period, connecting over 9,200 founders with 5,400 investors and welcoming over 4,500 exhibitors and 180,000 attendees.

For the first time, 4YFN will take place across two halls – Halls 8.0 and 8.1 – featuring four networking spaces and seven stages that will host the founders and investors disrupting the global startup scene for four days of keynotes, fireside chats, roundtables and pitching competitions.

We cannot wait to welcome over 800 exhibitors and 350 speakers for this year’s event, which returns bigger and better than ever before in celebration of 10 years of 4YFN. 4YFN features a packed agenda focused around our six event themes including the Age of AI, Growth, Startup Funding, Corporate Innovation, Art of Innovation, Decentralisation & beyond.

As you might expect at our event dedicated to startups, we will have a programme that helps investors to meet the next big thing as well as one focused on founders and empowering business mavericks. We have also got programmes focused on Digital Health, Green Tech, FinTech, impact for positive change and one that celebrates academic innovation with a university and spin-off programme.

Each programme will host its own on-stage pitching competition, welcoming five early-stage companies from the field to pitch their proposition to a live audience and panel of judges consisting of specialised investors.

Showcasing startups tackling societal issues

Exhibitors at 4YFN represent the companies disrupting traditional industries with groundbreaking new solutions.

Sara Bisbe, Co-founder and Chief AI Tech Officer at Aily Labs, joined a 4YFN preview session hosted by Mobile World Live ahead of her fireside chat on Tuesday 27 February. Commenting on recent AI developments, Bisbe said, “AI stands to have just as much an impact as electricity did 100 years ago, and the democratisation of the technology – facilitated by recent developments in GenAI – has turned it into a commodity from which startups in every industry are benefitting. Aily Labs is pushing the boundaries further with the first iOS AI Decision Intelligence platform for business. By leveraging both specific corporate knowledge along with broader industry insights, the Aily app acts like a seasoned business expert, providing real-time personalised AI recommendations that help organisations drive business growth.”

Among the participants will also be hundreds of investors – with collective funds totalling €50 billion – looking to fund the innovators that will help us tackle society’s most pressing challenges.

Looking into the future 10 years from now, Sebastian Lefebvre, Partner at venture capital firm Elaia, pointed to developments in AI and quantum computing as particularly interesting areas to watch, “As technologies like AI, large language models and quantum computing continue to develop over the next decade, we will see new possibilities unlocked such as large-scale climate simulations and the discovery of new drugs and enzymes. The intersection of AI and life sciences is something we should all be excited about, with the potential for these emerging technologies – and their subsequent adoption by biotech companies – touching everybody on the planet."

An agenda of trailblazing talks and dynamite debates

Speakers taking to the 4YFN stages include Sir Martin Sorrel, Founder and Executive Chairman of S4 Capital plc; Nigel Toon, a leading figure in AI and CEO & Co-Founder of Graphcore; and Pau Gasol, President of the Gasol Foundation and Gasol16 Ventures, and a member of the Athletes' Commission of the International Olympic Committee. Also joining the 4YFN stage are the founders of Spanish unicorns Jordi Romero, CEO of Factorial, and Avi Meir, CEO at TravelPerk.

The University & Spin-off Hub, which debuts at 4YFN24, will pay tribute to the central role that universities and research institutes play in propelling new thinking and inventions. Speakers at the new space include representatives of New York University’s Stern School of Business, Northeastern University’s Institute for Experiential AI, the European Innovation Council and the French Atomic Energy Commission.

Finding the world’s best digital startups

One of the highlights of 4YFN is the annual 4YFN Awards which aim to find the best digital startups on the planet.

The competition culminates in the 4YFN Awards ceremony, with this year’s event taking place at 5:00pm CET on Wednesday 28th February at the Banco Sabadell Stage in Hall 8.1.

During the event, five finalists will take part in an on-stage pitch battle in front of a live audience of investors, business executives, entrepreneurs, government officials and the general public, before one is crowned winner.

This year’s finalists are:

  • Bitsensing – a leading imaging radar company that designs solutions for autonomous vehicles, smart infrastructure and wellness
  • Mica AI Medical – an AI decision support system that helps radiologists perform precise and effective mammography analysis
  • Qilimanjaro Quantum Tech – a full-stack quantum computing company that aims to address complex computing problems in shorter timeframes
  • Ocean Econstructures – developers of marine life regenerative technologies designed to offset human impact on the world’s oceans
  • Whispp – an assistive voice technology app that converts whispered and vocal cord-impaired speech into a person’s natural voice in real-time

4YFN provides a platform for startups and founders to propel new ways of thinking and increase exposure to an audience of investors looking to fund the startups that will change our world.

Register today and, if you are a member of the press planning to attend, please do reach out to our PR team on press@gsma.com to say hi – we’d love to connect!  

The GSMA is also happy to be working with RENFE, Spain’s national rail network, to offer an exclusive 15% discount for all MWC Barcelona attendees travelling to and from Barcelona between 24 February and 2 March – unlock your discount here.