Project quality and solidity, the strong points of catalan entrepreneurship

July 2016.- Entrepreneurship in Catalonia is showing higher levels of quality both in the motives behind entrepreneurial projects and in terms of thier survival and consolidation rate. This is the main conclusion of the latest Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) - Catalonia 2015 report sponsored by the Department of Business and Knowledge and the Barcelona Provincial Council and prepared jointly by the Institute of Regional and Metropolitan Studies and the Business Department under the direction of Carlos Guallarte within the framework of the Observatory for Small and Medium Companies. GEM is an international project which involves 62 countries worldwide.

Index of entrepreneurial activity

The index of entrepreneurial activity (TEA, according to its acronym in English) shows that 6.42% of the Catalan adult population (18 to 64) was involved in early-stage entrepreneurial activity (both nascent and new projects). Breaking down the percentage, we see the motivation for opportunity-driven entrepreneurship – who starts a business does so because he/she has an idea and knows how to turn it into reality and make it profitable – stands at 5.2%, well above the Spanish level (4, 2%) and close to figures found in Europe (5.8%). Need-driven motivation – who starts a business does so because he/she cannot find employment –has dropped 6.6 points since 2012 and stands at 1.2% for the first time in the last five years, lower than Spanish and European rates (1.4% and 1.5% respectively). Overall, this means the relationship between the two rates (4.49) situates Catalonia in line with innovation-based economies and above the averages found in Europe (3.98) and Spain (2.96).

On top of these positive figures, we can add the strength of entrepreneurial projects in Catalonia. In this section, consolidated business initiatives (over three and a half years) represent 10% of the adult population of Catalonia and reach the highest levels of the last four years; in fact, in 2015 they were above European values (6.53%) by more than three percentage points and innovation-based countries (6.77%) . Two other constant trends since 2012 are also present: the fall-off of people who abandon their projects (2.49% in 2012, 1.75% in 2013, 1.48% in 2014 and 1% in 2015), and the big drop in closures (from 1.90% in 2012 to 0.45% in 2015). 

However, the TEA for the year 2015 was 6.42%, 1.1 points below the values of 2014. Figures above the Spanish average (5.7%) but below the average for Europe (7.6%). A slight decrease that can be explained precisely by the reduction in need-driven entrepreneurship, due to the change in the economic cycle and the corresponding improvement in opportunities.

Profile of the Catalan Entrepreneur

The study also makes a snapshot of the Catalan entrepreneur. In 2015, the average, potential and nascent, new and early-stage entrepreneur, was around 38-39 years old. The age of consolidated entrepreneurs, however, rose 10 years to reach 48. In Catalonia, young people (19-34 years) are still the segment of the population with a higher TEA (7.4%), above the Spanish average (6%) but below the European (8.7%).

Another noteworthy fact is that in 2015 the participation of female entrepreneurs increased, with the genders difference reaching a minimum in this area. In fact, the TEA are: 6.4% male and 6.2% female, with the second figure placing Catalonia above the European average (5.3%). In Spain, however, the gap between men and women continues (6.4% vs 5%). Regarding educational levels, the usual trend are perceived: the propensity to perform entrepreneurship is still more pronounced at higher levels of education, reaching a record TEA (24.4%, well above Spain at 14 % and Europe at 11%, and innovation-based economies at 12%).

Barcelona, in line with Catalonia

As for Barcelona, the trend is in line with Catalan data; i.e., greater preponderance in the quality of entrepreneurship over quantity, with need-driven entrepreneurship rate falling in favour of opportunity-driven entrepreneurship. The Barcelona TEA in 2015 was at 6.1%, at an almost identical proportion to the Catalan need-driven and opportunity-driven entrepreneurship (1.2% and 4.9%, respectively). As for strength of projects, the data for Barcelona is also very positive. In first place, projects of over 3.5 years represent 9.67% of the adult population. As for abandoned and closed projects, the Barcelona figures are even better than Catalan ones: the dropout rate is 0.95% (-44% vs 2014) and closures 0.34% (-57% vs 2014).


Joan Aregio, Secretary for Business and Competitiveness

This report allows us to compare ourselves with other regions of the world, and the trend it shows is positive.

Marc Castells, second vice president of the Barcelona Provincial Council

The report identifies a drop in the number of companies shutting up shop in the province of Barcelona.

Catalonia in Business