Barcelona offers to host British start-ups after Brexit

08 Aug 2016

Barcelona offers to host British start-ups after Brexit 

The Catalan Government and Barcelona’s City Hall made official last Tuesday their “firm intention” to join efforts in order to attract those companies which are planning to leave the UK after Brexit. “We want to make Barcelona a reference point in the 4.0 industry and ICT”, explained the Catalan Ministry for Business and Knowledge, Jordi Baiget. “We can be especially competitive in attracting micro-companies which are looking for a well-connected and friendly location”, added Barcelona’s deputy Mayor, Jaume Collboni and emphasised that one of Barcelona’s “main goals” is to create “quality jobs”. 

Moreover, both institutions aim to attract big corporations and multinational companies that want to have their headquarters within the EU, as well as reinforce their experience in hosting international fairs and professional meetings. Indeed, in June the Catalan Government also offered to host the headquarters of the European Medicines Agency, which is currently in London. 

Since many European cities have set their eyes on London after Brexit, Barcelona wants to reinforce its potential, which lies in “its geographic location, the international connections, its technology and environment, which have attracted many talented people so far”, assured Jaume Collboni. 

The Catalan Government and Barcelona’s City Hall’s coordinated project aims to put together structures, knowledge and staff in order to offer handy information and facilitate the paperwork, so that “Catalonia and Barcelona can be seen as a suitable destination for investors and companies”, explained Baiget.

The UK, Catalonia’s fifth-biggest commercial partner

According to Catalonia Trade & Investment, the Catalan Government public agency for business competitiveness, there are 2,029 Catalan companies which regularly export to the UK and in 2015 alone these exports totalled 4 billion euros. This represents 22.4% of Spanish exports to the UK. The main Catalan exports to the UK are vehicles (36.4%), followed by electrical materials (12.2%) and plastic materials (4.8%). 

Barcelona and its metropolitan area play an outstanding role in this relationship, with the region accounting for 3 billion euros in exports. Regarding imports, the Barcelona area received 2.2 billion euros from UK-based companies in 2015, 5.8% more than the previous year. 

Indeed, the UK is Catalonia’s fifth-biggest commercial partner; a commercial relationship which grew by 21% in 2015 and represented a credit balance of 1.4 billion euros.

Nearly 400 Catalan companies based in the UK

There are 384 Catalan companies based in the UK, which makes it the 8th most important country in terms of hosting Catalan companies. Most of them are related to the Smart City concept, ICT, services for the elderly, the health sector, fashion, graphic design and construction of high-speed infrastructures, amongst others. In 2014, Catalonia invested 1.4 million euros in the UK and 2.3 billion euros in 2015. 

In the other direction, there are currently 440 British companies based in Catalonia. 


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