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Barcelona beats its own record for international tech hubs

Catalonia now has 140 tech centres, 76% of which are located in Barcelona city. The number of hubs has quadrupled in the last seven years and beat its own record. These now generate 26,407 jobs with an economic impact of more than €2.5 billion a year.

06/03/2024 - 12:04 h

More and more multinationals are locating in Catalonia, with Barcelona and its metropolitan area as major centres of attraction for talent and R&D in southern Europe.

In 2023, the sector created 5,200 new highly qualified jobs in Catalonia and now employs 26,407 people, 25% more than in 2022. Moreover, the economic impact of these tech centres has also increased by 25% compared to 2022 and they now generate €2.544 billion per year.

These are the data published in the Tech Hubs Overview report promoted by the Mobile World Capital Barcelona, in collaboration with ACCIÓ (Generalitat de Catalunya) and the International Economic Promotion Department of Barcelona City Council.

Barcelona, a nerve centre of tech innovation

Catalonia’s capital is the main hub of this ecosystem. More than 75% of the centres have set up in Barcelona and, within the city, 46% are located in the 22@ district, which is the preferred area.

Barcelona competes with other European capitals in attracting technology hubs. Within the Iberian Peninsula, Madrid and Lisbon are the main competing cities and, in the rest of the continent, London, Berlin, Paris and Amsterdam stand out, in that order, according to the managers’ surveys.

The report highlights that companies choose Barcelona for its ability to attract multidisciplinary talent, the high level of local talent, the business and industrial ecosystem and its geographical location. Lufthansa, for example, “chooses Barcelona for its ability to attract quality talent, for its innovative and university ecosystem, and for its institutional support when setting up a new company in the city”, the report says.

14 new hubs set up in 2023

One of the new centres in Barcelona is the AstraZeneca Global Hub, which will involve an investment of €800 million in the region and the creation of 1,000 highly qualified jobs, with the aim of becoming one of the largest centres of excellence and clinical innovation in Europe.

In addition to the quantitative impact in terms of jobs and investment, these hubs are proof of Barcelona’s international positioning in the sectors of the future. A good example of that is the Cisco Systems innovation centre, which is helping to make Barcelona a global benchmark in cybersecurity and chip design.

What are these hubs like?

The average number of hub staff has gone from 168 to 203 in just one year. The attraction of Barcelona and its tech centres for international talent is reflected in the multinational nature of the workforces, which include an average of 16 nationalities, with European and Latin American profiles being the most represented.

The United States, with 28% of hubs, remains the main country of origin of foreign investment in tech centres, and Europe, with Germany and France in the lead, is the origin of 6 out of 10 centres.

The sector where investment has grown the most is health technologies, thanks to funding that has been on the rise since the pandemic. Currently, however, 20% of the companies with technological hubs in Catalonia are dedicated to the video-game sector, which has caused a pull effect of similar new investments and made the sector grow.

They are followed by software companies and companies dedicated to consultancy and services for companies, while the industrial machinery and food sectors are the ones with the largest centres.

If one technology was the focus of efforts during 2023, it was Generative Artificial Intelligence. The deep tech field is gaining prominence, with 68% of these centres already working on AI but also on technologies such as blockchain and robotics.