Barcelona ranks as one of the top five startup hubs in the EU in 2024

Catalan Economy · International Events

30 May 2024

The study by the international consultancy StartupBlink, which analyzes over 1,000 cities, also identifies Barcelona as the world's leading city in the video game and pharmaceutical industries.

Barcelona climbs one position to rank as the fifth startup ecosystem in the European Union in 2024, according to the ranking released on Thursday by StartupBlink, one of the most prestigious international consultancies specializing in the analysis of startup ecosystems. Barcelona now ranks just behind Paris, Berlin, Stockholm, and Amsterdam.

To establish this ranking, the consultancy considers parameters such as the number of startups in each ecosystem, their quality, and the business climate. It also analyzes indicators such as the number of coworking spaces and accelerators, the number of exits and unicorns, the traction generated by leading startups, and a set of regional business and economic indicators.

“Barcelona has consolidated its position as a powerhouse in the European Union's startup scene”

Eli David Rokah, StartupBlink's CEO

According to Roger Torrent, Minister of Business and Labour of Catalonia, this result highlights that "in less than a decade, we have consolidated ourselves as a mature digital and technological ecosystem, with one of the most developed startup hubs in Europe". For Torrent, this network of startups "is one of the foundations of our business progress model, acting as a lever to accelerate innovation and attract strategic foreign investment projects to the country".

The report also ranks Barcelona as the world's leading city in the video game and pharmaceutical sectors. According to StartupBlink CEO Eli David Rokah, "Barcelona has consolidated its position as a powerhouse in the European Union's startup scene". Rokah also highlights ACCIÓ-Catalonia Trade & Investment's contribution to developing the startup ecosystem in Catalonia. In this regard, he states that "we are impressed by ACCIÓ-Catalonia Trade & Investment's work in the ecosystem to achieve these exceptional results."

In this sense, the Secretary of Business and Competitiveness and CEO of ACCIÓ-Catalonia Trade & Investment, Albert Castellanos, assures that for the government, "it is strategic to support this ecosystem of fast, flexible companies that adapt quickly to the market and the trends of each moment: companies that understand and anticipate the potential of the most disruptive technologies and that act as accelerators of knowledge transfer to the market", he explains. In this sense, he highlights the agency's instruments to startups, such as ACCIÓ-Catalonia Trade & Investment's Startup Capital line - which provides 100,000 euros in grants to technology startups - or the Deeptech co-investment fund.

Barcelona is the leader in Spain's startup ecosystem. Spain boasts a strong presence in Southern Europe, with three cities ranking among the top 10 ecosystems in the region. Italy and Portugal, both have only two qualifying cities.

Barcelona has given birth to some of Spain's most notable companies and unicorns, such as Glovo, Wallbox, and Letgo. These companies have achieved significant exits, demonstrating Barcelona's position as a major contributor to the European startup scene.

A growing ecosystem that embraces innovation

According to data from ACCIÓ-Catalonia Trade & Investment, Catalonia has 2,102 startups as of 2023, the highest number in its history and a 4% increase over the previous year. The ecosystem generates 20,600 jobs (an 8% increase) and a turnover exceeding 2.1 billion euros (a 14% increase over the previous year, also a record high).

Sector-wise, Catalan startups are primarily focused on health (16.9%), business services and software (15.2%), ICT and mobile (5.7%), food (5.2%), and sustainability and energy (5%). Other notable sectors include fintech (4.8%), travel and leisure (4.4%), educational technologies (3.8%), and digital content and media (3.6%).

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