Interview with Consorci de la Zona Franca de Barcelona

The upcoming Health Revolution Congress on May 16th is the largest European Summit in Digital Health, where global startups & stakeholders join forces in Barcelona. The event, organized by Barcelona Health Hub and powered by Fundació Privada de l’Hospital de la Sant Creu i Sant Pau, will take place against the stunning backdrop of the Recinto Modernista. Here you’ll dive into the latest tech, pioneering innovations and of course lots of networking opportunities.

One of the companies you can meet at the Health Revolution Congress is Consorci de la Zona Franca de Barcelona (CZFB). They help healthcare companies increase supply chain reliability by capturing compliance and commercial data from their suppliers, ranging from SAQs to onsite audits. The data is collected, processed, and accessed through a digital platform, streamlining the process from supplier onboarding over qualification to monitoring. They serve more than 1200 healthcare clients globally.

Today you’ll meet Blanca Sorigué, General Director of Consorci de la Zona Franca de Barcelona, who will share with us more about their expectations for the Health Revolution Congress.

Blanca Sorigué, we’re looking forward to seeing you at the Health Revolution Congress. Can you please introduce yourself and tell us about Consorci Zona Franca?

I’m the first female general director of the Consorci de la Zona Franca de Barcelona, a position I took up in January 2018 after having reached the direction of the institution’s International Expansion Department in 2017. A large part of my professional career has been linked to the organisation of trade fairs and other professional events, serving as general director of the International Logistics Exhibition (SIL) since 2004, the Barcelona Meeting Point (BMP) since 2018 and creator of the eDelivery Barcelona Expo & Congress and the recent Barcelona New Economy Week (BNEW) and Barcelona Woman Acceleration Week (BWAW).

I opted for the digitalisation of the industry through two major projects led by the institution: the first European 3D printing incubator (3D Incubator), the first incubator in Spain for logistics 4.0 startups (Logistics 4.0) and DFactory Barcelona, the industry 4.0 technology ecosystem of reference worldwide.

The Consorci de la Zona Franca de Barcelona is an active agent and a driving force behind the revitalization of the metropolitan area of Barcelona. Our entity generates opportunities through the economic promotion of the logistics, transport, real estate and technology industries with collaborative and synergistic proposals, with innovation, sustainability and also equality as strategic pillars. As the first woman general director of the Barcelona Free Trade Zone Consortium, an entity with more than 100 years of history, I have a great responsibility to activate all the initiatives within our reach to contribute to gender equality in all aspects.

Can you elaborate about what’s new at Consorci Zona Franca these days?

As a transformative public entity, the 2019 strategic plan contained objectives based on three points: the long-term sustainability of the institution and its projects, the economic development of the territory, and the urban integration of the territory.

To this end, we have implemented activities that have led us to achieve some goals focused on these aspects: we have expressed our intention to be the driving force of industry 4.0 with DFactory Barcelona, a 17.000 m2 ecosystem that has involved an investment of 30 million euros and promotes the new economy with synergies between companies; the creation of incubators for start-ups, based on 3D printing and logistics 4.0; rethink the urban plan of the old industrial estate to include green areas, access to the city, services, leisure areas; or even the achievement of a new model of events, with sustainable characteristics, that promote Industry 4.0 with an international scope.

In addition, the CZFB is also a promoter of international events that position Barcelona as the capital of the new economy. We are talking about the Barcelona New Economy Week (BNEW), which brings together key sectors of the economy under the common denominator of the new economy, through a face-to-face and virtual model; and the Barcelona Woman Acceleration Week (BWAW) to accelerate gender equality in the business world, not only in Barcelona but on a global scale. We are also organising SIL Barcelona, which will be held this coming June, which is the world’s leading Logistics, Transport, Intralogistics and Supply Chain tradeshow.

Could you provide an example of one of your successful collaborations in healthcare? And what do you think that the key to success was?

An example of collaboration in the healthcare sector was during the COVID pandemic. In March 2020, the CZFB and the 3D Incubator joined forces together with Leitat, HP, CatSalut, the CST and the Parc Taulí Hospital to develop the so-called Leitat 1, the first 3D printed and industrializable field ventilator, which obtained validation from the Spanish Agency of Medicines and Medical Devices to be able to start a trial with real patients in just over 2 weeks. The results were very positive: all the tests were satisfactory, and it has been distributed in more than 25 hospitals throughout the country. Another project in which the 3D Incubator collaborated was the development of the Multivent bifurcator, a 3D printed device that allows multiplying access to assisted ventilation equipment during times of greatest equipment shortage in ICUs.

The key to the success of all these projects is, without a doubt, the public-private collaboration combined with great professional talent. Public institutions, private companies and startups must not only talk and come together in times of greatest need, but throughout the year we must be able to continue collaborating and supporting new initiatives and projects to move forward as a society.

Lots of new developments are happening every day. How do you see the future of digital health?

New technologies will play a fundamental role in the development of a more connected, global and digital medicine. Big data models, telemedicine, predictive medication, wearable sensors, and a host of new platforms and applications could help us rethink the way the world provides, accesses, and manages health and healthcare. But all this must go through the correct management of these new technologies, either in their own application or in the management and confidentiality of patient data, for example, because the focus of all these new developments is the improvement of people’s health and our ecosystem.

Barcelona Health Hub is thrilled to have you at this largest European congress in digital health. Why did you decide to partner up with the Health Revolution Congress?

The CZFB collaborates with the Barcelona Health Hub by adding synergies with the Barcelona New Economy Week (BNEW) event. During the last edition held in October, the vertical dedicated to health, BNEW Health, was a success. The top speakers who participated in this topic had the opportunity to present and discuss technological advances in the medical sector, and how new technologies can help us to better prevent, detect and treat diseases. We were able to hear about advances in telemedicine, the implementation of Big Data in medicine, new models more connected to our health, the future of the pharmaceutical industry, among many others. For this same reason, we also decided to weave synergies with the Health Revolution Congress, to continue offering a space where the new economy meets professional talent and health.

What can we expect of Consorci Zona Franca at the Health Revolution Congress?

The CZFB is the driving force behind DFactory Barcelona, the world’s leading industry 4.0 technology hub. In it, large corporations, startups and small companies develop their most innovative projects related to new technologies, such as Artificial Intelligence, robotics, Big Data, 3D printing… And one of the sectors that is applying the most and is making the most progress in this technological transformation is the health sector. Within our ecosystem there are companies that are developing very outstanding projects, such as the 3D Medical Lab by Leitat or Excelencia Tech. The latter reproduce operating environments in 3D printing with the intention that doctors can practice before performing a high-risk or complicated operation.

Don’t miss Consorci de la Zona Franca de Barcelona at the Health Revolution Congress on May 16th! Be sure to reserve your seat and meet with global startups & stakeholders in Barcelona.

Get your ticket!