I’m Ricky Pérez, one of the 40 guides who helped make the HEALTHIO experience, a major event at FIRA DE BARCELONA, as successful as possible.
Or course we’re not the only ones responsible for its success. Special mention must go to HEALTHIO co-founder Dr. Jordi Serrano Pons, guide coordinator Mar Eroles (head of the Innovation Forum in Barcelona), Joel Sabaniego, Mercè Bonjorn, and many others who worked tirelessly behind the scenes.
For those of you who still don’t know HEALTHIO, let me explain. HEALTHIO is a major, groundbreaking FIRA DE BARCELONA event led by the team of Pilar Navarro, Miquel Serrano, and Albert Riera which aims to bring health providers, patients/citizens, and innovations and disruptive technologies into contact to generate new co-creation synergies. The possibility of informing patients/citizens about what the future holds and inviting them to participate gives many startups a clue about what the market might think of their products. To facilitate this process, we came up with the figure of the ‘Guide’, someone who could detect the interests of the event’s visitors and lead them toward the hospital-related startups and initiatives that best matched their needs.
But where did it all start? For me it was when a friend (now my startup partner) gave me the chance to take part in the event. With this, word got around and all I had to do was accept the invitation. The figure of the guide emerged at the first meeting we held with Dr. Serrano Pons. It was a brand new event concept and we weren’t sure of how to go about it, so we tinkered with the idea and made changes to enhance it in the sessions organized in the run-up to the event.
Finally, the big day arrived. HEALTHIO kicked off at 9 am on 3 May and the good work and powerful outreach of the organizers was demonstrated by the large group of visitors assembled at the door. The first wave of people quickly appeared, unsure about what to expect of us and vice versa.
We had an initial moment of uncertainty when we saw the crowd swarm in until I stepped forward to welcome the first group of visitors and start the first of the many itineraries we had planned. I remember that first itinerary clearly – Control of Chronic Diseases, part of the Chronic Diseases and Ageing track. The first stop was at the Esteve Teijin Healthcare stand where the company’s representatives were also not entirely sure about what was expected of them. But after explaining what they do, everything became much easier. The visitors showed a wholehearted interest in interacting with this new experiential guide format. That was the feeling we got at all the points along the different itineraries and it produced a constant sense of closeness and led us at HEALTHIO to feel part of a large family.
The guides also had the chance to participate in the agoras, the 10-15 minute chats that took place at different points around the grounds at the same time. Our job was to ensure that the speakers were comfortable, introduce them to the attendees, check that their speeches didn’t run overtime, and make sure the question and answer session began when it was supposed to. I personally moderated the agora called “Health on Trips in the Future”, where I learnt a lot and which hereby I attach so you can see it:
HEALTHIO was without doubt a major event in Health and Innovation. Even today I come across people who were unable to attend and who ask me whether the guides were necessary or just an extravagance on the part of the organizers. The feedback from the public was very positive, but I think that the best show of our success is that the concept is now being rolled out at other conferences, events, and trade fairs.
As journalist Enrique Dans says: “What matters in innovation isn’t stopping others from copying you. It’s getting them to copy you.”
The results speak for themselves. Increasingly more events are featuring guided tours of the startups present and they are always a hit. That’s why I’m going to go out on a limb and say that we were a big success and I’m proud to be able to say that I was the first guide.
Ricky Pérez Wienese.