Catalonia is a pioneer in the adoption of smart solutions for urban management, with public and private initiatives developing internationally recognised strategies and municipal projects. Barcelona -the second smart city in the world- is the Mobile World Capital and has a powerful ICT sector that connects, facilitates and empowers all the multiple smart solutions.
These solutions range from efficient energy systems and smart transit solutions (parking, public transport, etc.) to predictive security models or water usage solutions, not to mention telehealth and m-Health, improvement in tourism and commerce (computer systems, payment methods) or management in terms of learning and education.
Smart city companies in Catalonia grow by 62%
A recent study elaborated by Catalonia Trade & Investment (2019) shows that the sector in Catalonia is made up of 438 companies, with a workforce of 45,046 people. In relation to 2016, the number of companies has increased by 62%. Their collective turnover, solely linked to the smart city sector, came to 9,717 million euros, a growth of 39% compared to 2016. This figure represents 4% of the Catalan GDP, proof of how important this sector is for Catalonia’s business environment.
The sector is largely made up of small and medium sized companies (90% of the companies are SMEs), and 35% of them are startups. Moreover, 46% of the Catalan smart city companies export and 31% have branch offices abroad.
Sectors and opportunities for investment
The initiatives of clusters, technological centres and universities specialised in smart cities play an important role in the significant development of smart city activity in Catalonia. The region also has 64 municipalities with over 20,000 inhabitants, creating a testing ground for the new technologies developed by sector companies, not to mention the public administration’s commitment in this area.
Moreover, Barcelona hosts once a year the Smart City Expo World Congress, the most important event related to the smart cities worldwide that sets new trends and innovations for the future. In this sense, the smart city technologies the European Union is giving priority to - via the Horizon 2020 projects- are those connected to energy, mobility, ICT integration in infrastructures and data management; in other words, those that show greater opportunities for innovation.