Startups in Catalonia

Barcelona and Catalonia keep building their startup ecosystem and have earned the title of Southern Europe’s leading hub. 

Access the Barcelona & Catalonia Startup Hub

Barcelona has over 2,100 startups in 2023, 4% more than the previous year.

 

 

 

According to the Analysis of the Barcelona & Catalonia Startup Hub’s 2023 figures, Catalonia is today home to 2,102 startups, the highest figure on record and a 4% increase over the previous year.

The Barcelona & Catalonia Startup Hub is a comprehensive directory that identifies each startup with relevant information about their activity, funding stage, and business model.

The number of Catalan startups has grown nonstop over recent years and has almost doubled since the ecosystem was first analyzed in 2016.

In fact, 48% of Catalan startups have been created over the last five years.  From an international perspective, Barcelona has established itself as the best EU ecosystem for creating a startup (StartupBlink).

Record investments in startups

The study highlights that in 2023, Catalan startups collectively invoice 2.1 billion euros, 14% more than the previous year and the highest figure on record.

If we analyze the investment attracted by Catalan startups over the last five years (5.3 billion euros), it is 231% higher than that obtained in the previous five-year period, thus demonstrating the strength and growing solidity of the Catalan ecosystem.

  • 2,102 startups

  • Best hub in the EU

  • €2.1B turnover

  • 20,600 jobs

“Barcelona offers a great mix of professional opportunities and a high quality of life”

Avi Meir, TravelPerk’s CEO

The largest and most international startup ecosystem

The study clarifies that Catalan startups have an aggregate turnover of 2.1 billion euros and employ more than 20,600 people. In recent years, Catalan startups have been growing larger, as today, 32% of companies have more than ten employees, a percentage that was 18% in 2020. 

Another indicator demonstrating the maturity of the ecosystem is that 54% of startups in the ecosystem have a founder with previous experience in startup creation, a percentage that has increased by 9 points in the last two years.

As regards employment generated by these companies, the analysis carried out by ACCIÓ - Catalonia Trade & Investment states that almost one in four workers in Catalan startups (24%) are foreigners.

In this sense, Barcelona has established itself within the European Union as the second preferred startup hub for founders to establish a startup, only behind Berlin and ahead of cities such as Amsterdam or Stockholm.

Catalan startups are predominantly engaged in healthcare (16.9%), business services and software (15.2%), ICT and mobile (5.7%), food (5.2%), and sustainability and energy (5%). Also noteworthy are fintech (4.8%), travel and leisure (4.4%), educational technologies (3.8%), and those dedicated to digital content and media (3.6%).

Startups and tech

Startups have emerged as one of the most strategic factors for transferring knowledge to the market and having an impact on the overall economy and society. In this regard, the report highlights that the ecosystem of Catalan emerging companies has 213 spin-offs, which are entrepreneurial initiatives by members of the university or research community, a 21% increase compared to 2022. Thus, Barcelona ranks as the second hub in the European Union with the highest number of founders from local universities, second only to Paris.

This commitment to knowledge and research is also evident from the perspective of R&D undertaken by startups: 91% of Catalan emerging companies invest in R&D, while more than half (51%) have some form of patent or knowledge protection system in place.

From a technological standpoint, the study concludes that 31% of emerging companies work with artificial intelligence and big data, with cloud and edge computing (9%), Internet of Things and sensor systems (7%), automation (6%), e-commerce (5%), biotechnology (5%), immersive technologies (4%), and blockchain (3%) also standing out. Thus, collectively, 71% of these companies work with technologies linked to Industry 4.0, a crucial aspect in the context of digitization and technological transformation of the country's productive base.
 

The directory listing Catalan startups

The study is based on data from the Barcelona & Catalonia Startup Hub digital platform, a directory created by ACCIÓ - Catalonia Trade & Investment in 2016 that lists startups with the following characteristics: a maximum of 10 years in business, technological, scalable, repeatable and applicable business models in global environments and aimed at rapid growth.

 

 

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