2023 Highlights: 12 compelling reasons to invest in Catalonia
20 Dec 2023
As 2023 draws to a close, we would like to reflect on the remarkable journey of Barcelona and Catalonia, consolidating their status as Southern Europe's premier destinations for foreign investment.
Throughout 2023, top global companies like AstraZeneca, AkzoNobel, Lufthansa, Covestro, SEAT, and Alstom have opted for Barcelona and Catalonia to establish new centers, expand their existing investments, and create new employment opportunities, further solidifying Catalonia's position as a top destination in Europe for companies from a diverse range of sectors, such as life sciences, automotive, and logistics.
But most of all, the year 2023 has been remarkable for the city of Barcelona and the region of Catalonia, performing exceptionally well in the global rankings in different categories, highlighting their international presence and making them stand out.
Overall, 2023 has been an excellent year for Barcelona and Catalonia's accomplishments.
Let's have a closer look:
#1: Startups love Barcelona
With a record 2,022 startups, Catalonia is making strides in the startup ecosystem. Barcelona, in particular, has established itself as the leading hub in Southern Europe, ranking as the 5th most important startup hub in the EU, and is the second most popular city for founders to launch their startups.
The number of Catalan startups has grown nonstop over recent years; in fact, 59% of Catalan startups have been created over the last five years. From an international perspective, Barcelona has established itself as the 5th best EU ecosystem to create a startup, only behind Paris, Berlin Stockholm, and Amsterdam.
#2: Catalonia & Barcelona win the Best Foreign Investment Strategy award
Catalonia and Barcelona have been recognized as the region and city with the best foreign investment attraction strategy in Europe, according to fDI Magazine, a prestigious international ranking from the Financial Times group.
This ranking plays a crucial role in multinational companies' decisions regarding potential business investment projects. The Catalan Government has implemented several initiatives that this ranking has acknowledged, and as of the 2022 edition, Catalonia and Barcelona have once again emerged as the leaders in this ranking.
Barcelona has been ranked as the 4th best city in Europe, according to Europe's Best Cities Report 2023. The report was conducted by Resonance Consultancy, a well-known global advisor that specializes in placemaking, branding, and marketing for the world's top cities, districts, developments, and destinations.
The ranking highlights Barcelona's allure, marking it as one of the cities in Europe with richer cultural attractions and lifestyle experiences.
#4: There are 1,835 foreign technology companies in Catalonia
Catalonia is currently home to 1,835 technology companies, which make up 19.8% of all foreign subsidiaries (9,255 companies) in the country. These companies come mainly from the United States, France, the United Kingdom, Germany, and Italy.
Among these companies, the most prominent industries are the ICT and electronics sector, followed by the audiovisual sector, health products and services, and R&D.
#5: Catalan companies in the digital economy sector have grown by 15%
According to an ACCIÓ-Catalonia Trade & Investment study, Catalonia is currently home to over 22,000 digital sector companies. Over half of these companies were established less than ten years ago, and 8.6% are startups. Moreover, 15% of the companies working in the digital economy in Catalonia are exporters, making it an area with potential for internationalization.
This study also highlights that Barcelona is considered the best no-capital tech city in the world and is the 1st metropolis of the European Union with the best approach to an effective technological ecosystem.
#6: Catalonia ranks 6th in Europe among countries awarded with European Research Council grants
Catalonia is currently ranked 6th in Europe for countries awarded European Research Council (ERC) grants, one of the most distinguished and competitive EU funding schemes.
Of the total 218 European researchers awarded 544 million euros, 9 are researchers based in Catalan institutions, representing 4.1% of the total. This percentage is a significant 56.2% of the total percentage of Spain (16).
#7: The Catalonia Industry Suppliers directory has identified over 5,200 industrial and technological companies
The Catalonia Industry Suppliers directory has identified over 5,200 industrial, technological, and industry service companies.
The database, which has increased by 70% since its launch, is a unique free directory that provides detailed public information on products and applications of industrial companies in Catalonia, with export capacity and international orientation.
Of the 5,200 industrial companies identified by the platform, 76% are primarily manufacturers, and 24% are technological or industrial service companies. All of them are exporters; on average, foreign sales represent 40% of their turnover.
#8: Catalonia is the second European region attracting funding for Deep Tech startups
Catalonia has emerged as the second most popular European region for attracting funding for deep tech startups. In the latest European Innovation Council Accelerator (EIC Accelerator) call, five deep tech startups from Catalonia have raised almost 40 million euros.
As per ACCIÓ-Catalonia Trade & Investment, the selected Catalan deep tech startups represent 8.4% of the total funding received and 6.4% of the total number of companies selected on a European level.
#9: Barcelona has three business schools in the world's top executive education ranking
Barcelona is home to three prestigious business schools that have been ranked among the top 30 in Europe, according to the European Business School Rankings 2023, a publication by the Financial Times. These schools are IESE, ESADE, and EADA, all renowned for their academic excellence.
IESE stands tall at the 3rd position, while ESADE, a private business school, has secured the 12th place. Lastly, EADA has been ranked in 30th place. These rankings serve as a testament to Barcelona's thriving academic community and its reputation as a hub for world-class business education.
#10: Barcelona, a perfect match for the 37th America's Cup
Barcelona and the America's Cup have a lot in common - both are known for their innovative approach towards sustainability and believe technology can play a crucial role in achieving it. Keeping this in mind, ACCIÓ-Catalonia Trade & Investment and the America's Cup have partnered to promote green hydrogen technology in the upcoming Barcelona 2024 regatta.
Learn why Barcelona has been chosen to host the 37th America's Cup through an exclusive interview with Grant Dalton. You'll discover why Catalonia is not only the perfect choice for this iconic sailing competition but is also an ideal destination for business ventures.
#11: Catalonia is home to a record 9,255 foreign companies
Catalonia is currently home to 9,255 foreign companies, which is a historical record and 62% more than what it was ten years ago. The United States, France, and Germany are the top countries with the most companies established in Catalonia. However, there has been a significant increase in companies from Asia, especially China and Japan.
Around 25% of foreign companies recently established in Catalonia have been created in the last five years, and the number of foreign multinationals in Catalonia has increased by 100 companies in the last year alone. Some of the notable foreign companies established in Catalonia include Rovio, AstraZeneca, Lufthansa, Galderma, and Arxada.
#12: Harvard Business School will study the case of cluster policy in Catalonia
Harvard Business School has recognized Catalonia's cluster policy for its success in boosting competitiveness. The region stands out as one of the most competitive in Spain and above the EU average. Catalonia also boasts the highest number of cluster organizations in Europe.
Clustered companies have demonstrated superior performance, outpacing their peers in terms of revenue growth, job creation, exports, and innovation. Catalonia's cluster policy has been successful for over 30 years, making it a global reference in the field. The cluster program supports 27 cluster organizations with over 2,700 members and more than 100 collaborative projects per year.
As we say goodbye to 2023, the team at Catalonia Trade & Investment wishes you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! May the coming year continue to bring prosperity to Catalonia's dynamic business landscape.
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