Within Europe, Catalonia and Barcelona are among the top regions that multinationals choose when considering setting up shop in the continent. A total of 9,255 subsidiaries confirm the attractiveness of the area for doing business.
Top international companies are setting up global tech hubs in Barcelona-Catalonia. Skilled talent, a booming startup economy and a great quality of life are among the main reasons they decide to settle in the region.
Catalonia’s economy is industrially-based and rivals any other location in Spain and in Europe. Industry represents 19.8% of Catalan GDP, above Spain’s average, and manufacturing and industry related services amount to 50% of the global GDP.
The manufacturing industry is a strong asset for the Catalan economy and an important driver of employment and prosperity. In fact, Catalonia is the 6th European region by number of professionals employed in manufacturing activities (2020).
Located in the north-east of Spain and with 7,7 million inhabitants, Barcelona-Catalonia is the most competitive economy in Southern Europe. It concentrates 25% of the Spanish industry and its GDP is similar, for instance, to Finland’s.
Historically a trading nation, its strategic location in the Mediterranean and its transport infrastructures, as well as its entrepreneurial and business friendly economy, have made it a top location in the south of Europe. Add to that a capital city, Barcelona, that is an unbeatable meeting point for international business.
An extensive network of scientific and tech centers in Barcelona-Catalonia connect our talent at all levels, while empowering numerous prestigious applied and basic research groups that make tech transfer an ongoing reality in all sectors.
Catalonia is home to top scientific facilities in Spain, such as the Institute of Chemical Research of Catalonia, the Institute of Photonic Sciences, the Alba Synchrotron, Barcelona’s prestigious Biomedical Research Park, and the Barcelona Supercomputing Center.
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.
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.
Barcelona- Catalonia is a coastal Mediterranean location in Southern Europe, bordering France and located in the north-east of Spain. The logistics network can access 400 million consumers in less than 48 hours by different means of transport: plane, train, vessel or truck.
With excellent transportation systems, it is the ideal place from where to reach markets in Europe, the Americas, North Africa, and Asia. Thanks to its close ties with Latin America, due to cultural, language and historical links, it is the natural gateway from Europe to markets in that region. Its capital, Barcelona, is one of the few cities in Southern Europe with full-modal transport integration (sea, airport, motorways & railways) within a 12-kilometre radius, each with global connectivity.
DiscoverBarcelona-Catalonia’s top industries and technologies.
Strongly industrialized, Catalonia is one of Southern Europe’s main economic powerhouses as well as one of the world’s top spots to live & work. A wide and dynamic industrial base with strong connections to ICT, mobile & smart solutions makes it easy to find suppliers for any specific area of business in Catalonia.
Catalonia stands out as one of Europe’s leading automotive manufacturing regions, producing 1 in 5 vehicles in Spain alone, as well as having Seat’s (part of the Volkswagen Group) automotive OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer). Additionally, Catalonia has a strong network of engineering companies and TIER suppliers in the automotive sector.
Catalonia is also home to a significant number of business providers in the sustainable mobility and smart cities sectors, which includes the automotive and motorcycle industries, the railway industry, mobility services, and all telecommunications and infrastructures related to mobility.
In Catalonia, chemical, energy and resources have always been an essential factor for competitiveness and economic development. This powerful sector includes both basic and fine chemistry, energy production and distribution, energy efficiency, water cycle treatment and waste management, among others.
In the chemicals area, Catalonia stands out as the largest chemical hub in Southern Europe. More than 200 international chemical companies are located in the region, boosting the Catalan industry ecosystem in the entire value chain, from raw materials and petro chemicals, to basic and specialty chemical companies. Furthermore, it is highly dynamic when interacting and creating synergies with other economic sectors.
Modern and innovative design are signature trends in Catalonia, home to world-renowned architect Gaudí, whose striking and nature-inspired buildings have had a tremendous influence in the region well beyond architecture.
The design industries – including the textile, shoe, jewelry and habitat sectors – are all a strategic sector in Catalonia, firmly rooted in tradition but with a strong international projection.
Some of the most international fashion brands are Mango, Munich, Nice Things, Pronovias, Tous or Desigual, as well as Textura, Kibuc, Figueras, Marset, Kettal or Roca in the furniture area.
The food industries are the No.1 sector of Catalonia’s economy. It generates a turnover of €43,088M, which is equivalent to 19.2% of the GDP of Catalonia and directly employs 177,031 people.
Most leading food companies in the world, such as Nestlé, Danone, Unilever, Kellogg’s, Haribo, and Griffith Foods, have set up productive centers, R&D departments and laboratories, and logistics activities in Catalonia. The region is also chosen as headquarters for Southern Europe or the Iberian Peninsula thanks to its strategic location, giving companies access to major markets in the Mediterranean and North Africa.
As one of Europe’s leading ICT hubs, Catalonia offers everything the modern ICT firm could possibly need, and it is a pole of attraction for foreign tech investment. Barcelona is considered the 1st worldwide non-capital tech city, the 4th most prepared city for the technological future, and the 5th European city in tech investment attraction. The number of ICT companies has grown 5.5% compared to last year, with Catalonia being home to 22.4% of all ICT companies in Spain.
From 2012 to 2030, Barcelona will be the Mobile World Capital. This means that not only the international flagship mobile event held yearly here, the GSMA Mobile World Congress, but also a whole range of activities and programs all year around are creating a dynamic professional ecosystem for the mobile and satellite industries.
A world-class network of medical institutions, hospitals, research centres, biotech startups and pharma companies has turned Barcelona and Catalonia into a leading life sciences hub. Top global companies that have installed their productive centres in Catalonia and already trust the excellent pool of local providers are Boehringer Ingelheim, AstraZeneca, Sanofi, Novartis or Roche, to mention just a few.
The health, well-being and life sciences industries include a wide range of sectors like pharma, medical technologies, biotechnologies, cosmetics, veterinary and nutraceuticals; as well as diverse agents like hospitals, insurance companies, universities and clinics.
Barcelona and Catalonia keep building their startup ecosystem and have earned the title of Southern Europe’s leading hub. According to the Analysis of the Barcelona & Catalonia Startup Hub’s 2022 figures, the region is today home to 2,022 startups, a number that has increased by 6.3% compared to 2021.
The number of startups in Catalonia has been growing larger, as today, 76% of companies have less than ten workers, while in 2019, before the pandemic, this percentage came to 87%. Their total turnover in 2022 amounted to €1,720M. Its 2022 analysis also reveals that Barcelona is the 2nd most popular city among startup founders in Europe and ranks 5th as an EU hub.
Easy access to skilled talent, a strong innovation culture, a growing number of dynamic startups and a fast-evolving digital ecosystem are inspiring global corporations to invest in Catalonia.
Barcelona and Catalonia are attracting more and more technological projects with the number of foreign tech companies setting up in Catalonia growing by 21% in 2019, mainly with projects from the United States, Germany, France, and the United Kingdom.
Catalonia is the region that received the most R&D investment projects in all of Europe (fDi Markets, 2021), making it a key innovation hub in the continent.
The Catalan video game industry is one of the most dynamic sectors in the digital content field, positioning itself as the driving force for the digital economy. The industry has excellent business opportunities and positive job creation prospects as it is taking shape as a young, innovative industry with global vision.
National and international video game companies have invested in Catalonia, from local young entrepreneurs that have ended up being bought over, such as Social Point or Akamon, to major multinational companies, such as King, Bandai Namco, Scopely or Ubisoft.