Catalonia’s economy is industrially based and rivals any other location in Spain and in Europe. Industry represents 19.8% of Catalan GDP, above Spain’s average, and manufacturing and industry related services amount to 50% of the global GDP.
The manufacturing industry is a strong asset for the Catalan economy and an important driver of employment and prosperity. In fact, Catalonia is the 6th European region by number of professionals employed in manufacturing activities (2020).
Competitive business climate
The number of companies in Catalonia amounts to 629,876 (2020), being the region in Spain that is more active in company creation. Of those, 35,339 are industrial companies, a number that represents 18.1% of the total in Spain.
Catalonia’s entrepreneurial activity rate is higher than Spain’s and similar to the European Union’s, even surpassing Sweden, Germany, and Italy.
As per Catalonia’s employment rate, it is in line with that of the European Union and is rising for the fifth year in a row.
A diversified industry, the backbone of the Catalan economy
The industry in Barcelona-Catalonia is highly diversified, with the main branches being chemicals and plastics, food and beverage, motor vehicles, and life sciences.
The chemicals and plastics are the No.1 sector in Catalonia’s economy, representing 16.9% of its industrial GVA. It is, in fact, the largest chemical hub in Southern Europe, enjoying the presence of multinational companies such as BASF, Dow, Kao, Covestro, Puig, and Repsol.
Food and beverages represent the second-largest industrial sector in Catalonia. Most leading food companies in the world, such as Nestlé, Danone, Unilever, Kellogg’s, Haribo, and Griffith Foods, have set up productive centers, R&D departments, and logistics activities in Catalonia.
The motor vehicles sector is also strong: 17% of the vehicles in Spain are produced in Catalonia, making it a leading automotive powerhouse in Southern Europe. The region hosts SEAT’s (Volkswagen Group) automotive OEM development center and most of the engineering units of the parts suppliers Tier 1 and 2.
Life sciences are experiencing exponential growth in Barcelona-Catalonia. The region has a world-class network of medical institutions, hospitals, research centers, biotech startups, and pharma companies. Moreover, 40% of the top global companies in life sciences are present in Catalonia, such as Teladoc Health, AstraZeneca, Sanofi, Novartis, or Roche.
Top Catalan companies in the world
Catalonia is the birthplace of many multinationals that have grown to be globally competitive, such as Grifols, Wallbox, Mango, Ferrer, Desigual, Borges, Torres, or Esteve, among many others.
Within Spain, Catalonia has the greatest number of headquartered companies (18,5%).