The number of foreign tech companies in Catalonia grew by 21% in 2020 reaching 1,369
The fDi Intelligence division of the ‘Financial Times’ group together with The Next Web – one of the leading European media and companies in the field of technology and startups – recognise Barcelona and Catalonia’s strategy to attract foreign technological investment as the second best in Europe. They are only behind London and ahead of cities such as Berlin and Amsterdam.
This is one of the main conclusions of the report ‘Tech Cities of the Future’, which analyses seventy locations in Europe to establish the cities with the highest potential in terms of the international attraction of technological investments and startup ecosystems. As for Barcelona & Catalonia, the report highlights the presence of 1,500 startups in Catalonia, the celebration of events such as the Mobile World Congress as well as the existence of 22@ district, Pier01, scientific facilities and universities.
FDi Intelligence and The Next Web analyse indicators linked to economic potential, innovation, foreign investment attraction, profitability, the startup ecosystem and the strategy to attract new investments. Thus, the report concludes that Barcelona ranks 8th in all of Europe and 1st in Southern Europe as a tech city of the future, ahead of cities such as Madrid, Stockholm, Frankfurt and Munich. London, Paris and Dublin lead these rankings.
Tech companies and startups
According to Catalonia Trade & Investment, there are currently 1,369 foreign technology companies in Catalonia (2019 data), 21% more than the previous year, which are mainly dedicated to the fields of ICT, industry 4.0, biotechnology, electronics, health and medical equipment, smart cities, digital and audiovisual content, mobile, video games and R&D.
By country, companies from the United States (22%), Germany (18%), France (14%) and the United Kingdom (14%) stand out. In fact, according to data from fDi Markets, foreign investment in technology reached 493 million euros in 2019, a figure that has increased by 18% compared to previous year.
As for emerging companies, there are currently 1,500 startups in Catalonia (2019 data), 38% more than three years ago, which employ 16,900 workers, according to Catalonia Trade & Investment. 19% of the workers in these emerging companies are foreigners, 15% in the case of the founders. The study also shows that 64% of emerging Catalan companies work with technologies
linked to Industry 4.0, especially in the fields of cloud computing, big data, the Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence and integrated systems.
Poles of attraction for innovation, 22@ and Pier01
Companies need environments where they can set up and grow easily. Over the last 18 years, Barcelona has consolidated the 22@ district, an area for urban, technological, social and economic innovation, with leading technological infrastructures, and where highly innovative companies, research centres and universities coexist with housing, public services and green areas. There are more than 9,000 companies established there, 30% of which are dedicated to technology or knowledge-intensive activities, and where more than 93,000 people work.
Also noteworthy is a second pole of innovation, the Pier01, installed in an old cargo warehouse in the Port, is the flagship of the Barcelona Tech City Association. In a privileged location of more than 11,000 m2, around 1,000 people from more than 100 companies and start-ups work together every day. Venture builders, consultants and large corporations have their innovation hubs there such as Gas Natural, Seat Metropolis Lab, MWCentures of the MWC or the Payment Innovation Hub CaixaBank, Arval, Visa, Global Payments and Samsung.
Global competition for technological talent
The determining factor for the establishment of technology companies in any city, not only Barcelona, is the ability to generate and attract talent, the scarcest resource. This is a competition in which there is no absolute winner as all economies suffer from a chronic deficit of technological talent.
Barcelona is one of the relative winners, as it is proportionally able to generate and attract more technological talent and quicker than other cities. According to the “Digital Talent Overview” study of the Barcelona Digital Talent initiative, published 15 days ago, 77,000 digital professionals work in Barcelona, 9,600 more than last year.
This relative success is partly due to initiatives such as Barcelona Digital Talent which aims to make Barcelona a global reference pole for technological talent and in which the public and private sectors are aligned with the Catalan Government, the City Council of Barcelona, the Mobile World Capital Barcelona Foundation, CTECNO Foundation, Foment del Treball, Barcelona Tech City, 22@ Netwok and Barcelona Global.
Information or content provided by the Delegation of the Catalan Government to the UK and Ireland.