This february of 2022, 4YFN (Four Years From Now) was proudly returning as the movement of people started to normalise after the big omicron wave. This year it was a bit special though as it started in parallel to the war in Ukraine. It was not being mentioned in every conversation but the overall energy was impacted for sure. But people were finding positivism in the opportunity to meet “for real” in a world that had become “remote first” for the last couple of years.
Impactivs was there, with a stand at 4YFN, aiming to connect with the startup ecosystem, entrepreneurs and potential partners. After 4 days of the event, here are our main takeaways:
Two rooms, two moods, catalyst of synergies for Innovation
This year more than before, it seemed that actors of the innovation ecosystem realise the value of synergies as we saw corporate (i.e. Decathlon) and bank (i.e. Sabadell) present their programs to stimulate innovation through start-ups for example. For the first time, 4YFN is in the same area as MWC (Mobile World Congress). MWC counted around 7 halls exhibiting big telecom, tech companies & co. One of these Halls was dedicated to 4YFN and the startup ecosystem. Although comparatively much smaller, the energy and dynamism in 4YFN area was quite high and we could feel the difference when transitioning in and out of it. Appreciated novelty was that both audiences could connect whenever they’d want to as events were in same location. That gave attendees and exhibitors the opportunity to connect between the 2 events and explore synergies.
Regional hubs are pushing through
Among the stands, talks and meetings, it appears quite clear that regional and city hubs are investing resources to show they care. For example Brussels was present in both MWC and 4YFN with a list of enthusiastic entrepreneurs! Some such as Barcelona Activa, Tech Barcelona or French Tech proposed a lot of activities to engage audiences. And many delegation was inviting startups to showcase their solutions. A great opportunity for founders.
Strong support for start-ups. How about scale-ups?
4YFN was bubbling with founders bringing to life new ideas, new businesses, raising early rounds or making first investors contacts. They found a lot of material as many exhibitors were also offering services to support them on their journey. Besides some successful scale-ups that came to share there experience (i.e. Wallbox, …) and some more advanced businesses presenting their spin-off in some stands (i.e. Exxita, …), this was less visible and perceivable on the scale-up side.
Impact entrepreneurship is claiming its space at 4YFN, little by little
On a positive note, there was a dedicated Impact programme with panels & talks, supported by Cruz Roja, Social Nest Foundation, UNDP, Seaya Ventures and Ship2B Ventures. It also brought forward some startups and addressed topics such as impact investing, EdTech, Women in entrepreneurship, etc. They were joined by other industry actors such as Casa do impacto as well as impact start-ups showcasing their ventures (i.e. Dana, Omniscope, Bridged Media & more!). On top, we could also experience some informal gathering on the side of the main event (shout out to our friends of t2i! 🙂 )
But climate doesn’t seem to be the top priority (yet?) !
One of our surprises however: when walking through the MWC, it seems that the #1 world priority is the adoption of 5G. On the other hand we hear and see very little about the climate crisis and the need for sustainable solutions. This led us to feel climate was maybe not much of a priority for the key stakeholders of MWC/4YFN just yet. The Impact track is a great iniative to raise awareness and stimulate the ecosystem and we hope the topic will become more and more mainstream in years to come!
So, all in all, it was great to see 4YFN coming back this year and connecting with everyone in the ecosystem. And, truth be said, it definitely left us with one conviction reinforced: if all innovators and changemakers would bring climate and social impact at the top of their agenda, a lot could be done! At Impactivs, we will build up on the many existing and new connections done at 4YFN to better empower impact entrepreneurs and help them launch & scale successful and sustainable businesses.
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