Catalonia, a key innovation hub in Europe

A competitive environment

Catalonia enjoys a dynamic, industrial, diverse and extremely business friendly economy making it a great location for innovation, entrepreneurship and R&D activities. Its capital, Barcelona, is a magnet for professionals, researchers and students all over the world.

With leading scientific facilities, such as the ALBA Synchrotron, Mare Nostrum Supercomputer, Biomedical Research Park, Scientific Park of Barcelona or ICIQ, Catalonia has a well-established innovation scene that will help you achieve your innovation goals.

Innovation and R&D

Catalonia is the region that received the most R&D investment projects in all of Europe (fDi Markets, 2021), making it a key innovation hub in the continent.

Innovation and R&D activities benefit from efficient tax deduction schemes, as well as from lower corporate tax rates than those in neighboring countries. Some cases of cutting-edge multinationals performing R&D in Catalonia include HP, Amazon, Facebook, Nestlé, Bayer, Roche or BASF.

The main sectors in Catalonia regarding R&D investment are Software & IT Services, Business Services, Business Machines & Equipment, and Communication. ICT is indeed a very powerful sector in Catalonia, with more than 16,800 companies that account for 20,903 million euros of annual revenue.

Together with a consolidated industrial economy, Catalonia stands out as a significant location for developing projects in the Industry 4.0 sector, a revolution in the digitalization of manufacturing processes. Moreover, Catalonia Trade & Investment works intensely on strengthening three strategic sectors for Catalonia: circular economysmart cities, and 3D Printing.

Talent attraction

The availability of top-notch talent, with a wide range of profiles, will adapt to any of your company’s innovation needs. Catalonia has strengthened its position as one of the world’s leading cities in international talent attraction, with the number of professionals employed in high-technology jobs (5.3% of the total, 2021) being higher than that of the EU-27 (4.8%) and the Eurozone (4.8%).

Catalonia, with more than 1,200 degrees and masters, and around 208,500 university students, has one of the highest student populations in Europe. Scientific publication is outstanding, and patents and technology transfer collaborations are growing at a healthy pace. With 0.1% of the planet’s population, Catalonia accounts for 1% of worldwide and 4% of EU-27 scientific production. Also, Catalan requests for European patents represent 33.4% of Spain's total.

Startup ecosystem

Catalonia is home to more than 1,900 startups that share a passion for innovation and thrive in sectors like Internet & Mobile Software and Services, eCommerce, and Big Data. A global landmark, Barcelona is the second city preferred by entrepreneurs to create a new startup. Check the Barcelona and Catalonia Startup Hub to browse through all the startups based here.

Also, Barcelona is the 4th EU hub in terms of the number of investment rounds, according to several renowned international rankings such as EU-Startups and Startup Heatmap Europe. The city has become a clear benchmark in Europe in the creation of new companies, especially those with a technological base. Top incubators and accelerators help boost the startup ecosystem in Catalonia.

International innovation programmes

Catalonia Trade & Investment is committed to identifying the suppliers and technology partners that best fit your specific needs. Companies can access a grant programme for international R&D projects (Nuclis of Technological Innovation) that aims to boost collaboration between Catalan and foreign firms.

Also, we deliver advice and training on how to present your project to the Horizon 2020 calls (the largest EU budget for research and innovation activities) together with a Catalan technological partner.

Downloads: R&D Incentives in Catalonia

Barcelona Biomedical Research Park

Catalonia received the most R&D investment in Spain, accounting for 44.6% of the total (fDi Markets, 2021)

ALBA Synchrotron