Catalonia is currently home to 22,041 digital sector companies, 15.1% more than in 2021, according to figures from an ACCIÓ-Catalonia Trade & Investment study.
The report defines the "digital economy" as all economic activity resulting from online connections between people, businesses, devices, data, and processes. The study analyzes companies in ICT sector and other digital areas, such as video games, the audiovisual industry, e-commerce, startups, industry 4.0, smart cities, and ICT engineering.
A snapshot of Catalonia’s digital economy
According to the study's conclusions, Catalan companies specializing in the digital economy have an aggregate turnover of 30,243 million euros, 2.5% over the previous year. This figure represents the equivalent of 12.4% of Catalonia's GDP. The report also concludes that the digital economy employs more than 182,820 people (+1.4% year-on-year growth).
This is a growing young sector: over half of these companies (53.8%) were established less than ten years ago. It should also be noted that 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.
The technological potential of Catalonia
The document also highlights the assets that make Catalonia a world-class technological hub. It is the 5th ecosystem in the European Union (EU) for startup creation and the 2nd preferred location for founders to establish their start-ups. It is also the 8th most digitized region in the EU. The report also highlights that Catalonia hosts numerous prestigious international tech events, such as the MWC and the ISE, and is home to scientific infrastructures and R+D centers (such as the ALBA synchrotron or the MareNostrum supercomputer), universities and clusters, which complete the digital economy ecosystem and favor technology transfer.
Along these lines, the report 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 (the 2nd in Europe as a whole, behind London).
“Barcelona is considered the best no-capital tech city in the world”
According to Tech Cities, Savills Index
Global trends: a digital future
It is forecasted that by 2026 digital spending on a global scale will double the figure recorded in 2021, reaching 3.4 trillion US dollars. The digital economy is increasingly embracing technologies and solutions that are rapidly emerging to respond to a changing society's new challenges and needs. Companies will have to live with these transformations and know how to adapt to them, reinventing themselves towards new business models and products that incorporate these new technologies.
In this sense, the document evaluates some of the trends already being identified in this area. For example, a data explosion is being experienced with the proliferation of consumer devices and companies creating them, thus generating an exponential increase in the volume of data produced. This rapid market growth and accelerated convergence of technologies are linked to increased security risks and demand, which explains the growth of the cybersecurity industry. As for consumer trends, ACCIÓ-Catalonia Trade & Investment’s report highlights predictive personalization to adapt to new consumer expectations; the demand for ultra-fast delivery services in less than 30 minutes; the transition towards a more sustainable e-commerce, or changes in the online shopping experience via the metaverse.
Catalan participation in MWC and 4YFN
The MWC, held in Barcelona, has been a powerful driving force and boost for the digital economy in Catalonia. According to data from ACCIÓ-Catalonia Trade & Investment, in 2023, a total of 333 Catalan companies will participate in the MWC and 4YFN. Specifically, 70 companies, technology centers and entities will have a stand at MWC 2023 and 263 startups at 4YFN. Of the total number of Catalan companies attending the congress, this year the Catalan Government will promote the participation of 104 companies and startups in the MWC and 4YFN – 20% more than in 2022 – in the Ministry of Business and Labour pavilions with the aim of finding investors, meeting partners and new customers, gaining visibility and opening new international markets. Thus, 48 companies will be located in the Catalan Government pavilion at the MWC and 56 at 4YFN. You can consult the list of participating companies at the MWC on this link.