Chemical, Plastics & Green Business

In Catalonia, chemical, energy and resources have always been an essential factor for competitiveness and economic development.

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Catalonia, a chemical industry powerhouse.

Catalonia is the leading region in Spain for the chemical industry, boasting the highest number of companies, revenue, and job creation. As of 2022, it is home to 1,985 chemical companies, accounting for 25.7% of the total number in Spain. The region also employs 31.1% of the Spanish chemical industry's workforce and 12.7% of the Catalan industrial workforce. Furthermore, the chemical industry is the second-largest manufacturing sector in the Catalan economy, generating €21,596 billion in revenue in 2020, which makes up 36.8% of the total revenue for the entire Spanish sector.

The region has three chemical hubs - Barcelona, Tarragona, and Vallès - that make up 80% of the industry's companies, 87% of its revenue, and 81% of its jobs. These hubs accommodate companies at different levels of the value chain. Tarragona produces primary chemical products, petrochemicals, and polymers. Vallès specializes in chemical products, detergents, paints, and fertilizers. Barcelona has intermediate chemical production plants, cosmetics, personal hygiene, and pharmaceuticals and is the preferred location for sales offices and headquarters.

A center of chemical excellence

Located 100km south of Barcelona, in Tarragona, is ChemMed, a top chemical hub. It is home to over a hundred chemical companies of varying sizes, with state-of-the-art infrastructures and access to the Port of Tarragona. As a result, it provides a platform for importing and exporting chemical materials to the Mediterranean and North Africa. Furthermore, it serves as a hub for potential partners and suppliers in the chemical, energy, and resource industry. The hub also serves as a foundation for various technology and chemical research institutions, including the Catalan Chemical Research Institute (ICIQ) and the Chemical Technology Center (CTQC). It is also home to the Southern Catalonia Campus of International Excellence (CEICS) and the Rovira i Virgili University (URV), as well as several other vocational training centers.

A dynamic R&D ecosystem

Catalonia as a whole also has a solid base of well-known research groups that support technology transfer, as well as a comprehensive network of scientific and technological centers that form the basis of the region's research and innovation program. Some notable institutions include the Catalan Institute of Chemical Research (ICIQ), which conducts pioneering research on catalysis and renewable energies; the ALBA synchrotron, which is being transformed into a 4th generation synchrotron through the ALBA II project, the Biomedical Research Park, which is a leader in biomedical research in southern Europe, and the Institute of Photonic Sciences, recognized as one of the world’s leading research institutions. Additionally, we also find the Mare Nostrum (BSC), Southern Europe’s third-largest supercomputer.

“Catalonia is really the industrial base of Spain, especially for chemicals and pharmaceuticals. We have a very good talented pool and people with a global mindset”

Akihiro Kadokura, CEO of AGC Europe



  • 1,985 COMPANIES

“Many companies operating in chemistry in Catalonia collaborate with each other and create an ecosystem that fosters the growth of the whole sector”

Carles Navarro, Managing Director BASF Spain

Where chemistry meets technology

In Catalonia, there are several instances of technology being applied in the field of chemistry. One such example is Earthdas, a company that has created a graphene-lithium hybrid battery for electric bicycles and motorcycles. This battery can be charged up to 12 times faster than traditional batteries. Another notable example is Venvirotech, a biotech startup that is dedicated to transforming organic waste into Polyhydroxyalkanoate bioplastics. These bioplastics are produced by bacteria, biodegradable in the environment, and compatible with the human body. Astrea is another company that provides unique technology on a global scale. It specializes in frontier materials used by NASA and NASCAR, and has developed a catalyst based on gold nanoparticles that can eliminate toxic pollutants at room temperature and humidity, thereby preserving air quality.

An industry fully supported by logistics

Catalonia is an established hub for intermodal logistics that provides the chemical industry with fast and seamless connectivity. The region boasts two of the main Mediterranean ports - Barcelona, which offers a wide range of logistics and transport services in Spain and southern Europe, specializing in industrial and large-scale distribution sectors such as pharmaceuticals, chemicals, automotive, mobility, agri-food, e-commerce, and fashion. The Port of Tarragona, on the other hand, generates 67.8% of its business from the petrochemical sector and has 36 hectares for storage tank deployment. Catalonia is also the top region in Europe for road infrastructures with four or more lanes and leads Spain in interregional and international transport of goods by road.

A magnet for investment

Catalonia ranks fifth in the top 10 regions receiving chemical FDI in the EU27 regarding the number of projects from 2018 to 2022. Germany is the principal chemical investor in Catalonia, followed by the United States and France, and in this 2018-2022 period, 32 companies have materialized 39 chemical FDI projects in Catalonia. These projects amount to a capital investment of €654 million. Furthermore, during the period, a total of 1,262 jobs were created.  


Full report on The Chemical Industry in Catalonia

Access our report on The Chemical Industry in Catalonia and see the latest initiatives in this powerful industry in Catalonia.

Full report on Chemical Industry in Catalonia

Main players and events.

See below which are the main research centers and institutions that develop chemical solutions in Barcelona-Catalonia.

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