Clearly Mobile World Congress has evolved from its origins as a telecom event into one that captures the pervasive uses of connectivity and digital transformation broadly. That evolution has created an enormous, eclectic event. This year 108,000 registered attendees and 2,300 exhibitors contributed to that buzz. One could argue that it provides something for everyone or that it does nothing well – and maybe other events are better investments. However, one thing the event does do is bring together innovators and enable opportunity. That happens in the main event as well as in the increasing number of side events and meetings which appeal to specific audience segments.  Attendees looking beyond the classic trade show, with specific objectives in mind, should explore these side events:

  • 4YFN (Four Years From Now) aims to develop the next generation.  Launched specifically for startups – and those interested in them – 4YFN attracted almost 20,000 attendees, with 600 startups and 700 investors in attendance this year. The event is not just a trade show but includes 9 competitions and more than 40 workshops in how to launch and develop a business. Startups themselves had the opportunity to pitch to VCs and other investors. A dedicated Founders & Investors Area provided space to meet, discover, show, participate and create business relationships.
  • GSMA’s Ministerial Programme convenes government and industry leaders. This side event drew 166 delegations representing 137 countries and 29 international organizations, including 60 ministers, 78 regulatory authority leaders and more than 150 CEOs. The objective of the program is explore policies needed to further the positive socio-economic of mobile technologies – in healthcare, education, economic opportunity, and social change.
  • Two new events – YoMo and Women4Tech – were launched this year. In an effort to expand the field, the GSMA launched two new events. Women4Tech focuses on addressing and reducing the gender gap in the mobile industry, and offers opportunities for mentoring and career development. YoMo was launched to inspire young people to pursue education and careers in science, technology, engineering, art/design, and math (STEAM) disciplines. In its first year, the event attracted over 11,000 children and 3,000 educators attended YoMo over 4 days.

As one of the largest technology events in Europe, Mobile World Congress will continue to attract business and technology leaders, and its expanding offering of side events offers new opportunities to target and grow specific audiences.