Catalonia boasts 320 deeptech startups, 10% more than last year

Catalan Economy · Tech & Digital Transformation

22 Nov 2023

According to an ACCIÓ-Catalonia Trade & Investment report, these companies employ 2,340 people (35% more than last year) and have a turnover of 161 million euros (+30%).

Catalonia has 320 deep tech startups (data 2022), 10% more than last year, according to the study Analysis of the deep tech startup ecosystem in Catalonia, 2023, published by ACCIÓ-Catalonia Trade & Investment. Deeptechs are startups with roots in science, technology, or engineering that require talent with STEM skills and develop cutting-edge knowledge and technologies to respond to global challenges.

The study highlights the strategic importance of these companies for the Catalan economy and society and underlines the growth of the deep tech ecosystem in Catalonia. For example, the 320 deep tech startups currently generate 2,340 jobs (35% more than last year) and a turnover of 161 million euros (up 30%).

“55% of deep tech startups have been created in the last five years, a fact that demonstrates the dynamism of the ecosystem in Catalonia”

Albert Castellanos, Secretary of Business and Competitiveness and CEO of ACCIÓ-Catalonia Trade & Investment

According to the Secretary of Business and Competitiveness and CEO of ACCIÓ-Catalonia Trade & Investment, Albert Castellanos, "Catalan deep tech startups are the key to the Catalonia of the future and the cutting edge of our economy: they bring together the best knowledge generated in the world of science, technology, and engineering and transform it into business opportunities that benefit society as a whole".

In this sense, Castellanos emphasizes that "without deep tech companies, we will not be able to face with all our capabilities the challenges posed by the climate emergency, such as water scarcity, the need to achieve technological sovereignty, or the improvement of living conditions and health". "That is why this ecosystem is highly strategic for Catalonia, and it is so important that the number of deep tech companies has grown by 10% in the last year", he assures.

The CEO of ACCIÓ-Catalonia Trade & Investment points out that "55% of deep tech startups have been created in the last five years, a fact that demonstrates the dynamism of the ecosystem in Catalonia".

X-ray of the ecosystem

According to ACCIÓ-Catalonia Trade & Investment's study, deep techs represent 15.8% of the Catalan startup ecosystem. They are mainly dedicated to biotechnology (40%), AI (25%), sustainable and frontier materials (11%) -that is, those designed or synthesized materials that offer improved functionality or new properties compared to other conventional materials-, robotics (8%) and photonics (5%). Also noteworthy are batteries, clean energy, supercomputing, blockchain, semiconductors, and quantics.

On the other hand, 43% of these deep tech startups are spin-offs; that is, they have emerged from the university or research field, and 46% of the companies have a patent or system for protecting their knowledge. The report also analyzes the profile of the professionals in these companies. In this sense, it concludes that 33% of deep tech startups have at least one foreign founder, 42% of the case employees. The Catalan deep tech ecosystem comprises other agents besides startups, such as 44 spin-off generating centers (universities, research groups, hospitals), 12 incubators and accelerators, and 37 venture capital funds.

First hub in Southern Europe

The analysis shows that Barcelona is the first hub in Southern Europe regarding funds raised by deep tech startups, with 480 million euros in 2018-2023. In fact, 2022 is the year in the historical series with the highest investment raised by Catalan deep tech startups, with 183 million euros, an increase of 19.6% compared to 2021. In Europe, the Catalan capital is ahead of Copenhagen, Madrid, and Milan, among others. In this sense, 78.4% of Catalan deep tech startups have raised venture capital funding. Of these, 36% have raised more than one million euros in investment rounds.

Public support for the growth of deep techs

Through ACCIÓ-Catalonia Trade & Investment, the government provides Catalan deep tech startups with various financial and support instruments to guarantee their first years of life. The Startup Capital line stands out, with grants of up to 100,000 euros per company, which over the last seven years has supported 152 deep tech startups - half of the ecosystem - with a total budget of 12.4 million euros. In addition, a new co-investment line with a budget of 2.5 million euros has been launched this year, 2023, through the expertise of venture capital funds and business angels. A few weeks ago, the first three operations were closed with the companies The Blue Box, Vitala, and Ysotope.

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