Catalonia Startup Ecosystem Overview

Over the years, the Spanish city of Barcelona has nurtured a strong startup ecosystem that effectively enables entrepreneurial growth. By positioning itself comfortably at the top in many global rankings compared to its European counterparts, the city is known for its conducive environment for businesses to thrive.

Barcelona has thousands of startups employing many talented professionals. These employees are from different countries, providing the city with its vibrant cosmopolitan culture. It is one of the most dynamic startup centers in Europe.

Year after year, Barcelona has proved its mettle in garnering its startup ecosystem. In 2019, the city secured the fourth position among Europe’s most innovative cities and 21st globally among 500 cities as per a survey conducted by the Innovation Cities Index by 2thinknow.

The official data suggests that the city’s startups have 26 percent foreign employees, and around 20 percent of the startup founders are from abroad. According to Startup Heatmap Europe 2021 data, about 18 percent of the startup founders from Europe picked Barcelone as their choicest destination to start a company after London and Berlin.

The Decoding Global Talent 2019 survey, compiled by the Boston Consulting Group, places the Spanish city among the top five destinations for attracting global digital talents. At the same time, it is among the top three tech hubs in Europe by the number of financing rounds. The startups from the city have attracted around €2,800 million euros in funding from 2015 to 2020, positioning it just behind Paris and London.

Top accelerators and Incubators:

Barcelona is home to a number of accelerators and incubators that help startups across different sectors and various stages of growth. Below is a list of the top startup accelerators and incubators in Barcelona:

Tech Barcelona: is a private, independent, non-profit association that works to strengthen Barcelona as a benchmark on the international digital and technological scene. It is the gateway and platform for active participation in the ecosystem. Tech Barcelona connects and makes startups visible. The non-profit assists startups in their innovation process and fosters entrepreneurship. The body connects startups and entrepreneurs with corporations and possible investors to strengthen the ecosystem in the city.

Based on data, the body provides critical insights into the city’s startup ecosystem and, at the same time, creates knowledge pools and shares experiences for the development of talents to support entrepreneurship. It holds various events and meets to assist entrepreneurs with fundraising and networking to grow their startups.

Barcelona Ventures Silicon Valley: is an accelerator that assists Spanish and European startups to scale their businesses globally. The cross-border network helps achieve global success by providing mentorship and networking through Silicon Valley investor-advisors. The accelerators’ select member companies benefit from hands-on advice from people who have spent many decades living in Silicon Valley. The experience and knowledge of the Investor-Advisors bridges Barcelona, Silicon Valley, and the globe.

The mentors at the accelerator believe that Barcelona has a vast potential of talents in the digital and technology sector that can compete with its counterparts in Silicon Valley. It has a robust network of mentors, investors, business leaders, and industry insiders who can help early-stage startups and innovative entrepreneurs take their businesses to the global market by solving real problems using new-age technology. The accelerator provides mentorship and support to local entrepreneurs and business owners by making them learn from startups working out of Silicon Valley to teach them how to scale up their businesses globally and attract investors.

SeedRocket: is an accelerator/incubator that offers a comprehensive Seed Funding Venture Program for Entrepreneurs with technology-based startups. The startup incubator program focuses on enhancing synergies by providing and facilitating an environment where founders and entrepreneurs can meet and exchange ideas. The accelerator program offers a common platform for founders and entreprneurs to share their ideas. The incubator also provides initial investment and work together with the founders through the early development stages.

For startups, the SeedRocket program is all about locating working spaces where they can share ideas and knowledges with others in similar circumstances. The program offers space and supports the winning projects by providing an opportunity to meet successful business leaders. The program includes a series of training programs based on the needs of each startup. To be selected for this program, the startup founders must demonstrate an innovative technology in the initial phase.

BStartup: is an accelerator program by Spanish multinational financial company Banco Sabadell. This initiative by the financial giant supports fledgling companies, early-stage startups and founders working on SaaS, Mobile Apps, E-Commerce, Bigdata, IoT, and Health-tech. The program grooms this early-stage startup and has an excellent success rate in mentoring some of the best startups in Barcelona.

The program’s focus is to identify startups that are developing technology to disrupt the banking sector. While being incubated the startups get the assistance, they require to take their ideas off ground and increasing their chances of success. The startup also has venture capitalist associated with it and provides an investment to a maximum limit of €100,000 euros each to more than 10 startups for a stake in the share capital that are incubated along with mentorship and guidance from to professional and industry leaders in the sector.

Wayra: runs a program to help entrepreneurs and early-stage startups with disruptive ideas. The incubator started in Latin America and supported startups working in science and technology to scale globally. It provides funding and investment to startups and connects them with other industry experts in the sector for mentoring. The program runs a paid pilot project for startups and can provide funding up to €250,000 to the deserving startups.

Wayra connects Spanish telecom multinational Telefonica with global technological disruptors. Running from seven hubs and spaces in nine countries spread across Latin America and Europe, the incubator supports startups through its various programs. Wayra has already invested in more than 500 startups that are part of Telefonica’s Open Innovation program, out of which more than 130 are doing business with the company.

It runs programs like the Wayra X, a digital hub for cent percent digital startups. The Wayra builder is a corporate venture builder that brings investors and innovative startups sprouting from Telefonica’s internal technology projects on a common platform.

The Connector accelerator program: provides program provides early-stage startups the opportunity to work with a board of mentors. These mentors provide training and educate the founder and the team. The mentor program helps entrepreneurs hone their skills, expand their knowledge, and compete effectively in the global arena to scale up their business.

The four-month-long program is sector agnostic and supports an array of technology startups working to disrupt various sectors through their innovation. These top-level mentors assist the founder in developing their business idea and become partners in their businesses with an equity percentage depending on the requirement. However, this can’t be higher than 10 percent equity in total. The startups that become a part of the program receive up to € 400,000 as funding support besides other wide range of benefits.

Upstarter: is a ten-week early-stage program targeting new businesses. The program consists of direct mentorship imparted through a series of workshops. The sector agnostic incubator assist founders and entreprenuers connect well with their target customer base through brainstorming and mentoring carried out by top professionals. The entrepreneurs are also part of specific business projects to help them learn to scale up their ventures.

The incubator selects microbusinesses and provides them access to designers, makers, and creative and social entrepreneurs to take these new ideas to the market for better growth and scaling up. The motif of this program is to take an upstart and transform them into startups adding value to the city’s thriving startup ecosystem.

Coworking spaces:

Below are some of the top co-working spaces in Barcelona:

La Vaca Coworking: in the boho Poble Sec neighborhood is an excellent place for early-stage founders and newcomers to the industry. A former cowshed, the coworking place is a living example of Barcelona’s transition from being an old coastal city to a modern hub of technology and entrepreneurship.

man in blue dress shirt sitting on rolling chair inside room with monitors

The plug and play coworking space has rows of industrial lifts and columns that provides order to its layout and caters to a diverse community of startup founders from artist to engineers making it a great place for networking. Entrepreneurs using this facility have access to games of pool and yoga sessions conducted here to unwind from a hard day of work.

Montoya coworking: is carved out of a warehouse by interior designers Skye Maunsell and industrial designer Jordi Veciana. Located in the Poblenou industrial neighborhood of Barcelona this coworking space was one of Spain’s largest industrial complexes in the 20th century. The area was created to inspire an environment that will aid startup founders in developing new ideas.

This coworking space can be mistaken for an antique furniture shop in the first place for its sheer beauty and elegance. The enormous co-working space is designed as a blank canvas to inspire creativity among its users. The site is one of the best-suited coworking spaces in the city for hosting meetings and networking given its calm environment. An entrepreneur has to apply here to get a workstation and rent prices are disclosed only after the application has been accepted.

Valkiria Hub Space: is a 1500-square-meter coworking area with an accelerator focused on startups working towards technical innovation to impart positive social and economic impact. It is an excellent place for early-stage startups prying for angel investors.

Located in the heart of 22@, known as the Silicon Valley of Barcelona, it has eight meeting rooms and a spacious restaurant that is a popular lunch spot among the techies of the city trying to startup on their own. The accelerator and the restaurants draw a lot of experienced professionals to this coworking space making it an ideal spot for networking required for fundraising and mentoring for founders striving to position their startups firmly.

Aticco: is a vast 3000 square meter penthouse that has been designed for modern entrepreneurs. The rental of the place is affordable for the quality of services on offer. The coworking space caters to the most need of an entrepreneur to help them concentrate on their work and come up with innovative business ideas.

The sprawling coworking space is genuinely modern in facilities, amenities, and furniture. It has both standard and private workstations for rent and has bike lockers to solve the commuting woes of an entrepreneur within the city. Beyond working needs a membership at Attico provides an entrepreneur with access to gym, showers and a terrace providing inner-city views that doubles up as an area for hosting startup events. It is an excellent place for startup founders and entrepreneurs to socialize and network according to their requirements.

Makers of Barcelona (MOB): popularly known as MOB, is one of the first coworking spaces in Barcelona that has backed the technological revival in the city. Built inside a picturesque early 19th-century building, the 1000 square meter working area was earlier a textile factory in Eixample. Beautiful modern buildings flank MOB, and it is easy to commute to this place given its proximity to the Arc de Triomf metro stations.

Besides being a coworking space, MOB also serves as a great meeting place providing ample opportunity for startup founders to grow their network. In 2014 MOB coworking space was the first to launch a FAB Café, the first in Europe that allows its patrons to print 3D prototypes besides the usual business meetings and socializing.

Main Strengths of the Startup Ecosystem
    • Many IT multinationals are building their tech hubs and innovation centres in the Catalan capital;

    • Availability of skilled talent for digital industries, good quality of life attracts talented professionals;

    • Catalonia is a leading automotive hub and has many companies working in sustainable and smart mobility;

    • Catalonia hosts leading global events including The Mobile World Congress;

    • Startup-friendly tax initiatives;

Ecosystem Milestones

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