Catalan companies drive digital economy growth with 34.7 billion euros business volume

Catalan Economy · Tech & Digital Transformation

26 Feb 2024

Catalonia is the second European region that has attracted the most technological investment projects during 2023.

Catalan companies in the digital economy sector are now generating a business volume of €34.783 billion, marking a 15.3% increase from 2021, a figure equivalent to 12.9% of Catalonia's GDP. These figures stem from the digital economy study conducted by ACCIÓ-Catalonia Trade & Investment, the agency for business competitiveness belonging to the Ministry of Business and Labour, released this Monday at the opening of MWC 2024.

Within the scope of this report, the term "digital economy" encompasses all economic activities resulting from online connections among individuals, businesses, devices, data, and processes. Thus, the document examines companies operating in the ICT sector and other digital domains such as video games, the audiovisual industry, e-commerce, startups, Industry 4.0, smart cities, and ICT engineering.

A snapshot of the digital economy in Catalonia

According to the findings of the study, Catalan companies specialized in the digital economy total 23,482, representing a 6.5% increase compared to a year ago. The report also concludes that the digital economy sector employs 185,851 individuals, reflecting a 1.7% year-on-year growth.

It is a young and growing sector: over half of these companies (56%) were established less than a decade ago. Additionally, it's worth noting that 8.7% are startups. Furthermore, 14.1% of companies engaged in the digital economy in Catalonia are exporters, indicating the potential for internationalization within this field.

The digital economy: a magnet for investment

The sector’s potential is also reflected in its ability to attract foreign investment. In fact, technological investments account for 43% of foreign investment projects carried out in Catalonia between 2019 and 2023. Moreover, in 2023, Catalonia stood as the second European region in terms of projects attracted (6.2% of the total), trailing only behind Ireland.

This capacity to attract international investment and talent has enabled Catalonia to conclude 2023 with 140 international technological hubs, marking an 11% increase from the previous year. These statistics are outlined in the Tech Hubs Overview report, crafted by Mobile World Capital Barcelona in collaboration with ACCIÓ-Catalonia Trade & Investment and the Barcelona City Council. Of these 140 hubs, 87% received support from ACCIÓ-Catalonia Trade & Investment in establishing themselves in Catalonia.

Catalonia’s technological potential

The document also highlights the assets that make Catalonia a top-tier technological hub globally. Catalonia is recognized as Southern Europe’s best startup ecosystem, with Barcelona being the second most preferred location for founders to establish their emerging companies. The study emphasizes that Catalonia has attained the status of a strong innovator in the European innovation ranking and hosts numerous internationally renowned technological events such as the MWC and ISE, along with scientific infrastructures and R&D centers like the ALBA synchrotron and the MareNostrum supercomputer. Moreover, its universities and clusters contribute to completing the digital economy ecosystem and facilitating technology transfer.

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