Report: The Big Data Sector in Catalonia, the Growth of a New Industry

Catalan Economy

16 Mar 2021

In line with global trends, Big Data is a growing new industry in Catalonia. Specifically, there are 220 companies in the sector today with a combined turnover of €250M and around 2,500 professionals.

According to the study Big Data in Catalonia, 61.4% of companies are less than ten years old and 38.2% of these companies are startups. Furthermore, 35.5% of the companies have a turnover of more than one million euros and 12.7% have a turnover of more than ten million euros.

It is also worth mentioning that within the Catalan value chain 64.1% of companies are dedicated to data analytics while the remaining 38.2% are technology providers. The ecosystem itself is also supplemented by companies with sector-based vertical applications, including those dealing in e-commerce and in health.

A focus for new investment

As regards FDI, between 2016 and 2020, Catalonia has proved itself to be the leading investment region in Spain with 71% of all capital invested, which translates into 33.3% of FDI projects, and 43.7% of jobs created. These investments largely came for the US, Great Britain, Switzerland and Japan. Examples of the companies behind these investments are Zurich, Everis, Ocado and Red Sift.

An active ecosystem

Supporting the industry in Catalonia one can find a wide range of technology and research centres such as the Catalan technology centre, Eurecat and the Centre Tecnològic de Telecomunicacions de Catalunya (CTTC), a non-profit research institution.

Furthermore, two smart labs involved in this field are the Barcelona Autonomous University Research Park and The Collider, an innovation programme of Mobile World Capital Barcelona.

Barcelona also hosts various events in the area such as the IOT Solutions World Congress, the Smart City Expo World Congress and the AI & Big Data Congress. Furthermore, the sector enjoys the active support of the public administration.

Big Data Centres in Catalonia

Significant big data centres are present in the region, such as the Barcelona Supercomputing Centre, specialising in high performance computing (HPC) and managing MareNostrum, one of the most powerful supercomputers in Europe. Other players are the Technological Telecommunications Centre of Catalonia, a public R&D+i centre;  DATASCIENCE@UB, a research and technology transfer centre involved in Big Data technologies and advanced data analytics; and i2CAT Foundation, an applied research body in the field of the Internet and advanced digital technologies.

A growing pool of talent

Despite still being a very young technology, Catalonia has made training in Big Data widely accessible. There are over 25 master’s degrees, courses and post-graduate studies on Big Data to train professionals in this increasingly more sought-after sector. Examples of this are Esade’s Executive Master’s Degree in Business Analytics or the Barcelona Pompeu Fabra University’s Master’s Degree in Data Science.

Local success cases

Two companies that have successfully harnessed the use of Big Data in Catalonia are worth mentioning.  Holaluz, a consumer 100% renewable energy provider established in Barcelona in 2010, which uses data primarily to forecast the daily energy consumption of its customers as well as calculating flat rates or power optimisers.

NetApp, a leading US data storage company, also is present in Catalonia. Its vice-president Anna Navarro is Catalan and specialises in content and globalisation strategies within the technology sector. In 2020, the firm opened a new Digital Sales Hub in Barcelona providing support to its sales teams in the EMEA region.

Download the full report on the Big Data Sector in Catalonia here.

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