Catalonia reaches 140 international tech hubs in 2023, 11% more than the previous year

Tech & Digital Transformation

14 Feb 2024

Healthcare, gaming, and food are among the prominent sectors of the various international tech hubs in Catalonia, with a significant presence of deep tech technologies.

Catalonia is currently a base for 140 international technological hubs (data from 2023), an 11% increase compared to the previous year. This is one of the key findings of the study 'Tech Hubs Overview (.PDF document)', jointly drawn up by the Government through ACCIÓ - the agency for business competitiveness belonging to the Ministry for Business and Labour - and the Mobile World Capital Barcelona in collaboration with the Barcelona City Council. The report highlights that international technological centers with a presence in Catalonia employ 26,407 people, a 25% increase, and generate annual revenues of 2,544 million euros, marking a 25% rise over the previous year.

The document was presented this Wednesday at an event attended by the Minister for Business and Labour, Roger Torrent, the CEO of MWCapital, Francesc Fajula, the Councillor for Economic Promotion and Employment, Feminism, Equality and Historical Memory of the City of Barcelona, Raquel Gil, and the Corporate Development Director and Head of the Digital Talent Area of MWCapital, Jordi Arrufí.

“87% of these 140 centers have been installed in Catalonia with the support of Catalonia Trade & Investment”

Roger Torrent, Minister for Business and Labour of Catalonia.

In the words of the Minister for Business and Labour, "87% of these 140 centers have been installed in Catalonia with the support of the government through ACCIÓ-Catalonia Trade & Investment, a figure that increases to 93% in the case of the new hubs of 2023", assured Torrent. In this sense, the Minister pointed out that "attracting new international digital hubs is a priority for the government because we know how important they are for generating more and better knowledge in our country, connecting it to the local business network and finally transferring it to society". And he added that "we are co-responsible for this ecosystem and we continue to work to expand it throughout the territory and with more relation to deep tech technologies".

Future forecast

The data from the report indicates that the impact of these hubs will continue to grow at an accelerated pace in the coming years. It is forecasted that by 2026, the sector will employ over 36,500 professionals and surpass 3.6 billion euros in revenue, thanks to the development of new technologies with high market value.

In this regard, Catalonia's tech ecosystem is gaining strength, both through the arrival of new hubs and the sustained growth of those already operating here for some time, which have seen a significant increase in both workforce and revenue. Specifically, the average workforce in these hubs has increased from 168 to 203 individuals in just one year.

During 2023, Catalonia saw the creation of 14 new hubs that will further drive the technological ecosystem in areas such as healthcare (AstraZeneca, Towa, Oracle Health), mobility (Volkswagen, IRP Systems, Lufthansa), entertainment (Sandsoft Games, Rovio, Netease), financial services (LGT and Unnax), chemical industry (Arxada), and communications (Telavox). Specifically, the impact of these 14 new hubs has generated more than 800 jobs, with a 2026 forecast of over 2,400 employees. These new hubs add to the 126 that were already operating in the territory in 2022.

Sectors ranging from health to videogames, industry, and food

This year, the sector that has seen the most significant investment growth is healthcare technologies, a trend that has been on the rise since the onset of the pandemic. Currently, nearly 20% of companies in the Catalan hub ecosystem are dedicated to the gaming industry. Following closely are software companies and those specializing in consulting and services for businesses, while the industrial machinery and food sectors boast the largest centers.

In terms of geographical distribution, 76% of hubs are based in the city of Barcelona, with the 22@ district being the preferred location for almost half of the companies. The remaining hubs are predominantly located in municipalities within the Metropolitan Area (19%), while 6% are scattered across various points of the Catalan territory. The reasons behind companies choosing the city of Barcelona include its ability to attract multidisciplinary talent, high levels of local talent, a robust business and industrial ecosystem, and its strategic geographical location.

What tech is being developed in Catalonia?

If there was one technology that captured attention during the year 2023, it was Generative Artificial Intelligence. The field of Deep Tech is gaining prominence, with 68% of these centers already working on AI, as well as technologies such as blockchain or robotics.

The range of products developed by the hubs in Catalonia is highly diverse. Applications predominate (58%), followed by APIs/back-end (56%), system architecture (56%), and front-end development (48%).

What do we mean by an international hub?

For the preparation of this report, we consider international tech hubs to be those companies with foreign capital established in Catalonia engaged in basic research, innovation, and prototyping or those developing technology in Catalonia with an international scope and for external clients.

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