Despite the current international crisis, Barcelona continues to be one of entrepreneurs’ favorite cities in which to start a new business.
According to the report for the first quarter of 2020 by Startup Heatmap Europe, the topic currently making the greatest impact on the European startup scene is Covid-19.
In March this year, there were more social media posts using keywords related to new companies, pandemic, health, and biotechnology than posts on FinTech, usually the main trending topic in the field of startups.
Barcelona is in a strong position in the field of technology and startups: according to the analysis of Twitter carried out by Startup Heatmap Europe, the Barcelona ecosystem is currently ranked 4th in the European ranking of most active startups during the Covid-19 pandemic and it is 18th worldwide on the StartupBlink Coronavirus Innovation Map. Unfortunately, two of the main technology conferences—Mobile World Congress and 4YFN—have had to cancel their activities this year due to the spread of the virus.
Besides the impact of Covid-19, Barcelona has moved up a place and is now in 4th position as the most visible European startup ecosystem on Twitter this quarter. Among its main competitors are Berlin, Paris and Amsterdam.
Favorite startup location for entrepreneurs
Barcelona's startup ecosystem has long reflected the fact that the city is one of the most vibrant technology centers in Europe. Barcelona, with 1,100 new companies, is the fifth-ranked European hub for startups. Barcelona's entrepreneurship rate stood at 8.5% in 2017, higher than the averages for Germany and Spain (5.3% and 6.2% respectively).
Barcelona is the third most attractive city in which to set up a business based on technology, following Berlin and London. The combination of highly skilled talent from around the world and an environment that encourages innovation has led to success stories such as Travelperk, Glovo and Typeform.
"Entities such as Barcelona Activa have been key in the development of the startup sector in the city"
The ecosystem derives from the city's entrepreneurial DNA, its capacity to attract talent, the city's reasonable costs, and increasing public sector support through bodies such as Barcelona Activa—which helps startups to raise seed money to create their company—and private associations such as Barcelona Tech City, created by the entrepreneurs in the city themselves .
The city also has several accelerators such as Startupbootcamp, Telefónica's Wayra and SeedRocket's Numa, the leading growth acceleration program in Europe, inaugurated in Barcelona. Moreover, the 22@ area of Barcelona is considered a technology cluster by the main technology consultancies, startups and research and development centers, making it a magnet for startups.
"Barcelona has 22@, the city's innovation district and technology cluster."
The thriving startup sector and the city’s blossoming reputation as a technology city capable of attracting international talent has also encouraged large companies to set up their technology and innovation centers in Barcelona. In recent years, more than 25 companies, including Cisco, Facebook, Nestlé, Allianz, Amazon, Zurich, Siemens and Roche, have opened centers in Barcelona
Furthermore, Barcelona hosts the Mobile World Capital, a series of events designed to promote the digital progress of society and, at the same time, help improve people's lives worldwide. Mobile World Capital celebrates the Barcelona Mobile World Congress (MWC) every year and has also founded 4 Years From Now (4YFN), the business platform for the startup community present at all MWC events worldwide.
A sector on the rise
The digital sector in Barcelona has been consolidated over recent years. The city has succeeded in creating its very own entrepreneurial and innovative narrative, in which both local and international entrepreneurs and companies play their part. This can be seen in the successes that are making an impact on the city, thus proving the worth of the ecosystem concept; money, talent and success cases clearly feed into each other’s growth.
In 2019 there were around 1,500 digital startups in Barcelona, with about 17,000 employees. The sector as a whole is estimated to employ more than 40,000 people (in startups, corporate businesses and support services). About 15% of those who have founded these startups are from abroad and 21% are women. Some 20% of those employed in start-ups are from outside Spain.
Furthermore, according to the latest Atomico report, Barcelona is the third most popular European city amongst entrepreneurs in which to launch their business, and is placed 43rd in the ranking of global innovation clusters according to the Global Innovation Index 2019 published by the business school INSEAD.