Catalonia, a key research and innovation hub in Europe

Barcelona-Catalonia enjoys a competitive environment that makes it a great location for innovation, entrepreneurship and R&D activities. With leading scientific facilities, it will help you achieve your innovation goals.

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Catalonia has all the assets of a powerful research and innovation economy.

Thanks to its dynamic research culture Catalonia is today consolidating its role as an industrial, R&D and tech investment magnet. Not only is it, in fact, the region that received the most R&D investment projects in all of Europe (fDi Markets, 2021), tech investment itself has grown 85% over the last five years with a record figure of 320 projects.

The Government of Catalonia is committed to research and innovation

Today, Catalonia is home to the highest number of innovative companies in Spain. It also leads the way in European patent applications, while over 50% of Catalan exports show high to medium-high technological levels. It leads within Spain in R&D investment with 44.6% of total investment in 2021 according to fDi markets.

R&D activity is part of Catalonia’s DNA

With only 0.1% of the world’s population, Catalonia produces 0.79% of worldwide scientific production and 4% of EU-27 scientific production. That’s why, when one thinks of innovation hubs in Spain and in Southern Europe, one thinks of Catalonia.

Between 2014 and 2020, Catalonia had a significant share of 1,508 entities receiving European funding. At a European level, Catalonia ranked 16th out of the EU28 to obtain EU funds, a very similar level to that obtained by Finland (€2,043.8M) and ahead of countries such as Portugal (€1,961M) and Hungary (€1,813.8M). 

The Catalan entities involved participated in 4,855 EU-funded projects, representing 28.4% of all projects with Spanish participants. Regarding the amount of funding, Catalan beneficiaries obtained 2,009.3 million euros (21.9% of the total received by Spanish beneficiaries).

The success of Catalonia in obtaining European funding can be attributed to its competitiveness, excellence, and innovative capacity, particularly in the Horizon 2020 funding program. In this program, Catalonia received €1,7 billion and 3,202 projects during 2014-2020, representing 2.5% of the total H2020 funds and showcasing the region's capabilities.

Additionally, Catalonia was a top-performing European region regarding the EU's SME Instrument program. Specifically, 246 Catalan SMEs received over 108 million euros in funding, which was 3.8% of the total program budget.

An ecosystem that companies like Microsoft, Hankook, and Veritas Intercontinental have all chosen to locate one of their innovation hubs in Europe.

A powerful magnet for R&D investment

If you want to know why Catalonia is the best place to invest in R&D in Spain and in Europe, just remember that half of the 50 main innovative global companies are present in Catalonia.

From Amazon to AstraZeneca, global business leaders have chosen us to place innovation hubs and R&D centers in Europe. In fact, Barcelona and Catalonia had the 2nd best tech investment strategy in 2020 according to the Financial Times Group.

“Barcelona is an appealing city to live and work in and a great hub in terms of innovation and talent attraction”

Jordi Ribas, Corporate Vice President of Microsoft

  • 4.1% scientific production

    Catalonia represents 4% of EU27 scientific production

  • 20.7% innovative companies

    Catalonia concentrates 20.7% of Spanish innovative companies

  • 33.4% European patents

    Catalonia represents 33.4% of European patents in Spain

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