Catalonia is the third EU region to attract the most European funding for research and innovation projects, with over €1,000M

Catalan Economy

25 Apr 2024

The funding amount secured by Catalan companies, research centers, and universities during the first half of Horizon Europe comes to just behind those of Paris and Munich cities.

Catalonia is the third region in the European Union to have captured the most European funds for research and innovation projects during the first half of the current framework program, Horizon Europe 2021-2027. Specifically, Catalonia has received €1,015 million in competitive EU funding over the first three years, from 2021 to 2023. This figure represents 3.54% of the total European funds and twice what would be expected for Catalonia based on population size. Additionally, Catalonia leads the distribution of funds within Spain with 32.6% of the total. These figures represent a 1.6 increase compared to the funding attracted in the previous research and innovation framework program (Horizon 2020) during the same period.

According to Albert Castellanos, the Secretary for Business and Competitiveness and CEO of ACCIÓ-Catalonia Trade & Investment, "these figures once again clearly demonstrate the innovative drive of Catalan companies in a highly competitive environment". He added that “these numbers confirm Catalonia as a reference territory for business innovation, as recently recognized by the European Commission when it raised Catalonia to the category of 'strong innovator”. Finally, he pointed out, "the fact that the success rate in applications is higher when companies are accompanied by ACCIÓ-Catalonia Trade & Investment demonstrates the important role the government plays in supporting them in these demanding processes".

“These figures clearly demonstrate the innovative drive of Catalan companies in a highly competitive environment”

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

Laia Arnal, General Director of Knowledge Transfer and Society, Department of Research and Universities, highlighted the importance that "the evident scientific impact and excellence in research carried out from Catalan research centers and universities also translates into a great capacity for attracting competitive funding to support science". In Laia Arnal's opinion, "the excellent results achieved by agents within the Catalonia knowledge system demonstrate its competitiveness and recognition of our system, providing an incentive to continue advancing on the government's commitment to research, innovation, and knowledge transfer as a pillar of national prosperity, supporting and accompanying the system to maximize the social and economic impact of research, respond to address global challenges and improve people’s quality of life".

Business participation leads the number of Catalan beneficiaries

Sixty-one percent of the Catalan beneficiaries during the first triennium of Horizon Europe were companies. Specifically, 321 Catalonian companies have received €349 million, triple the amount in the same period of the previous program, Horizon 2020. This figure represents 4.23% of the total funds awarded to companies and 34% of Spain.

In instruments specifically aimed at businesses, Catalonia is also the third region in the European Union in terms of funding attraction, following regions that include the cities of Paris and Munich. Notably, within the program's branch dedicated to financing innovative startups and sole proprietorship projects through the EIT and EIC Accelerator instruments, Catalan companies account for 10% of the total funding attracted.

On the other hand, the success rate in applications submitted by companies that have benefited from ACCIÓ-Catalonia Trade & Investment's support stands at 23%. This is almost three percentage points higher than the average for all Catalonian companies (20.4%), which is superior to the EU average (18.7%) and the Spanish state average (19.6%).

Finally, the profile of the Catalan company beneficiary of Horizon Europe's research and innovation funding is that of a small or micro-company less than 20 years old. By sector, those in ICT and electronics stand out (21.5%), R&D (17.7%), engineering (16.7%) and biotechnology (6.8%).

Catalan research leads in funding attraction

Research centers and universities have collectively captured a total of €631.5 million over the first three years of the Horizon Europe program, representing 61.3% of European funds received by Catalonia during this period. Of these funds, 26.1% were attracted by research centers that are part of the CERCA system, 24.5% by universities, and 11.6% by other R&D centers. The overall participation of CERCA centers places them in third place among entities with the highest participation, following Helmholtz and the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) and ahead of Fraunhofer and Max Planck institutes.

Furthermore, this data positions Catalonia as the third region in Europe with research systems with the highest Horizon Europe funding attraction, following only Ile-de-France and Upper Bavaria and ahead of countries such as Finland, Denmark, Portugal, or Ireland.

Notably, Catalan research agents stand out in the Excellent Science support programs, capturing 4.4% of the funds awarded under the Marie Sklodowska-Curie program for training and student mobility, worth €65 million, or 3.6% of the grants awarded by the European Research Council (ERC) for frontier research projects, totaling €170 million, which represents 3.4% of EU funds and 51.1% of Spanish state funding. Also very important is the participation in the European Innovation Council (EIC) grants, with more than 34 million euros (4.5% of the European total) raised to explore and develop disruptive ideas with high economic and social impact.

What is Horizon Europe 21-27?

Horizon Europe is the EU's research and innovation framework program for the 2021-2027 period. With a planned budget of €95 billion, it aims to finance initiatives and projects in research and innovation, from the conceptual phase to market introduction, to address the European Union's political priorities. In this sense, the program plans to tackle global challenges such as achieving climate neutrality, digitalizing industry, or improving people's well-being, among others, largely through the promotion of collaborative R+D+i projects.

Explore Catalonia Trade & Investment services.

  • Access to talent

    Access to all sources of available talent for international companies in Barcelona-Catalonia.

    See more
  • Barcelona & Catalonia Startup Hub

    Browse over 2,000 startups and discover Southern Europe's most vibrant and dynamic entrepreneurial hub.

    See more
  • Open Innovation Challenge Service

    The Open Innovation Challenge is a groundbreaking service that connects global companies with Barcelona-Catalonia startups and solution providers.

    See more

Related News and Success stories.

Subscribe to Catalonia in Business.

Do you want to be up to date with the latest news about Barcelona and Catalonia? Subscribe to our monthly newsletter and get them in your inbox.

Subscribe to Catalonia in Business
Contact with Catalonia Trade & Investment