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. Barcelona, Catalonia's capital, not only is, in fact, the third favorite city worldwide for R&D investment (Global Cities Investment Monitor, 2023), but tech investment itself has grown 72.2% over the last five years (2019-2023) with a record figure of 408 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 45% of total investment in 2023 according to fDi markets.

R&D activity is part of Catalonia’s DNA

With only 0.1% of the world’s population, Catalonia produces 0.81% 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.

At a European level, Catalonia ranked 8th out of the EU27 to obtain EU funds, a very similar level to that obtained by Belgium and Austria and ahead of countries such as Sweden and Ireland.

Regarding the amount of funding, Catalan beneficiaries obtained 32.6% 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 Europe 2021-2027 funding program. Specifically, Catalonia has received €1,015 million in competitive EU funding over the first three years, from 2021 to 2023, representing 3.54% of the total European funds and twice what would be expected for Catalonia based on population size.

Additionally, Catalonia was a top-performing European region in terms of the EU's SME Instrument program. Specifically, companies represent 60.8% of the total number of Horizon Europe beneficiaries in Catalonia. 321 Catalan companies received 349 million euros in funding, triple the amount in the same period as the previous program, which was 4.23% 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 75% of the 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 has the 2nd best strategy in Europe for attracting technological investments (Financial Times, 2020).

“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 4.1% of EU27 scientific production

  • 3rd city in the world

    Barcelona is the third favorite city worldwide for R&D investment

  • 20.7% innovative companies

    Catalonia concentrates 20.7% of Spanish innovative companies

  • 31.4% European patents

    Catalonia represents 31.4% of European patents in Spain

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