It’s official; The President of the Generalitat Valenciana, Francisco Camps, and Microsoft cofounder Bill Gates, yesterday elected Torrevieja to be home of the first World Centre for Innovation in Health Technology. This is a fantastic boost to the status of Valencia’s fifth largest city as all eyes shall now be focused on this new Microsoft initiative to have a research and development team work alongside the Hospital to further advance the FLORENCE system for health centre management and diagnostics, much of which has been developed at the Hospital. Their work had already caught the eye of Bill Gates who named Torrevieja as being top of their field in developing their (Microsoft) technology, worldwide.

For many years Torrevieja may have existed in the shadow of other Costa Blanca cities such as Benidorm, Alicante and Elche but 2010 is gearing up to be a bumper year and one that shall put the city in the limelight for her innovative approach towards Technology, Culture, Education and Sports, to name but a few.

Back in June 2009, Torrevieja’s Mayor, Pedro Hernandez Mateo started an initiative with Pedro Valero, the Councillor for Technology and Foreigners, to build momentum and continue development of the ‘Florence’ project. The city began her bid with a head start over other interested parties and although President Camps also considered Valencia, Alicante, Elche and Benidorm Hospitals as possible options for the centre, Microsoft have always considered Torrevieja to be their number one choice. The Mayor has already ceeded land for the building of Microsoft’s Investigative Centre beside the Hospital and possibly the invitation by the City Council to grant President Camps the honour of being an ‘Adopted Son’ of the city didn’t hurt a bit (although this act had nothing to do with this initiative)!

Torrevieja sign historic agreement with Microsoft

Part of the decision in choosing Torrevieja was also the city’s proximity to both Alicante’s El Altet and Murcia’s San Javier airports plus the universities of Alicante and Elche. Francisco Camps stressed that for this “ambitious” project Telefonica will participate as a technology partner in the development of communications alongside Caja de Ahorros del Mediterraneo (CAM) as this is one of the most important media projects in all of the European Union. He stressed that this decision has to do with the “potential” of the Hospital of Torrevieja and expressed his desire that the Centre become a “European reference centre for health.”

Furthermore, Camps and Bill Gates also discussed the possibility of collaboration between the Comunitat and Gates Foundation towards the development of health initiatives in countries where it is needed most. Francisco Camps emphasized “I’ve said that the effort of the Government is on developing cooperation and work in more than 40 countries around the world,” adding that specifically one task, through various foundations and agencies, is that the Government has also been focused on projects in Sub-Saharan Africa, where many of the Gates Foundation’s efforts are also taking place.

Gate’s stated that Microsoft’s decision to work together with the Comunitat was “due to the fact that Valencia now is a leader, not only in Spain but at European level” in computerized Health Technology with more than 40,000 jobs and over 10,000 workstations connected to the Internet. For 2011, all Valencian hospitals will be interconnected so that health professionals will have “better work and management tools… and full integration” of all levels.

This excellent news comes hot on the heals of the takeover of FC Torrevieja and their goal to become a top name in Spanish football, the new Music Conservatory of Superior Standards, the new Sports Complex, which opens next month plus interest from different investors in the Harbour redevelopment project, Hi-rise hotel and convention centre plus the reopening of downtown hotels. Torrevieja may have been looked at as nothing more than a fishing village and city of holiday homes by many for the last number of years, but 2010 is the year that many will look back on say that this year is the one that really put the City of Salt on the world map.