The Smart City sector takes root in Catalonia

Smart city companies in Catalonia grew 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. 

The study also reveals which are the technologies that are most commonly applied. 39% of the companies use Internet of Things and Big Data; 30% apply connectivity and 5G; 20%, photonics and quantum sciences; 17%, technology hybridisation and 11%, artificial intelligence.

Barcelona, one of the top smart cities in the world

Barcelona is a pioneer in the adoption of smart solutions for urban management, with public and private initiatives developing internationally recognised strategies and municipal projects. 

The city is the Mobile World Capital and has a powerful ICT sector that connects, facilitates and empowers all the multiple smart solutions, ranging 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 Expo World Congress

The Smart City Expo World Congress is the leading worldwide encounter on today’s urban issues and the technological revolution. Since it was first held in 2011, this event has managed to become a leading platform for ideas, networking, experiences and international business agreements, and it brings together the world’s top decision makers in the context of urban development.

Barcelona will hold the ninth edition from November 19th to 21st, 2019, expecting to gather over 700 cities worldwide as well as 840 exhibitors, more than 400 speakers and 21,000 attendees. Under the theme 'Cities made of dreams', it will feature major capitals such as Berlin, Brussels, Kyoto, Moscow, Paris, Seoul or Tel Aviv.

The Catalan ecosystem supporting the smart cities sector

The existence of clusters, fairs, technology centres, training agencies and universities that have specialised in smart cities, play an important role when explaining the motives behind the development of business activity in this sector in Catalonia in recent years.

The main technology centres that specialise in smart cities projects are CTTC, Eurecat, i2Cat, Leitat and inLab. As per research groups, Smart Government UPF, Smart Cities UB Chair and the ESADE Center for Innovation in Cities have shown their commitment to knowledge in smart cities. Furthermore, three Catalan universities (Universitat Oberta de Catalunya, Universitat de Barcelona and Universitat de Girona) offer Master's Degrees in smart cities.

Sectors and opportunities for investment

Catalonia has investment opportunities in areas such as the deployment and maitenance of network infrastructures necessary for cities to become smart, as well as in areas like energy, healthcare and governance.

Part of the ecosystem of Smart Cities includes a business friendly environment, including favourable taxation, reduced administrative burden, access to financing, a flexible labour market with skilled workforce and regulations that are supportive of business activity.

Together with the focus on technology, these aspects will place a strong emphasis on innovation and on research and development (R& as main drivers of the city’s competitiveness, basing their wealth on knowledge production).

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Document presenting the state of the art of the smart city sector in Catalonia and international opportunities.

Barcelona, 17-19 November 2020


115 companies belonging to the photonics industry have been identified in Catalonia with a turnover of € 1,708 million (2016).