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Barcelona has become a magnet for technological innovation centers

technological innovation

Barcelona is consolidating as an important reference in the tech sector, and its technological innovation centers are proof of this. Technology hubs have become home to countless startups and innovative companies looking to boost their growth in a collaborative and highly specialized environment. If you want to know how they are transforming the landscape of any multinational in Spain, we invite you to read on!

Barcelona positions itself as the European capital of technological innovation centers 

The strengthening of Barcelona’s digital environment is not only limited to the existence of a large number of emerging companies based in the city. The presence of technological innovation centers, or hubs, belonging to multinational corporations also corroborates the city’s recognition as the main development pole in southern Europe.

According to the report Tech Hubs Overview Barcelona, conducted by Mobile World Capital Barcelona in collaboration with ACCIÓ, 96 digital centers of foreign companies have been installed in Catalonia. Making the metropolitan area of Barcelona the preferred area in 99% of cases and a concentration of 78% of the total. Among the leading companies that have hubs in the area are Microsoft, Google, Intel, Pepsico and Sanofi.

Technological innovation centers are specialized establishments that, through invention and improvements in various areas of development, serve commercial and social requirements. 

They therefore attract highly skilled local or foreign talent, foster the economy and the use of local services, as well as the import of knowledge related to innovation and digitization.

This study examines technological innovation centers in Catalonia, established through a foreign investment strategy known as greenfield

The latter implies a new direct investment or an extension of the productive or service capacity and that develop technology with international scope with a focus on sustainability. 

The report focuses on three aspects of these companies: their context, the nature of their activity in technological innovation centers and the profile of the digital talent present in their teams. You can see the volume of this investment over the years in the graph below: 

technological innovation

Barcelona equals Madrid and Lisbon as an epicenter of technological innovation centers  

A multinational in Spain can benefit from the attraction of international talent and the availability of local professionals. These are the key factors that make it an attractive choice.

The main competing cities are in the Iberian Peninsula (Lisbon and Madrid) and Central Europe (Paris, London, Berlin and Amsterdam). Approximately 78% of the companies have chosen to physically set up in Barcelona city, with the 22@ technology district being home to 46% of them. 

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Key features of technology hubs in Barcelona

The technological innovation centers in Barcelona have established themselves as a European benchmark in terms of business development. With more than 1,000 startups and nearly 100 foreign companies that have established digital centers in Catalonia, the city has become an important mine of technological talent. In this sense, it is important to highlight the key characteristics that define these hubs: 

  • The economic impact generated annually by the group of specialized centers exceeds 1.4 billion euros, and this figure is expected to reach 2 billion euros by 2025.
  • The average investment associated with the arrival of a technological innovation center is around 6 million euros, and the average turnover of each one is around 15 million euros, according to data from 2022.
  • In Barcelona, more than 65% of the hubs focus on three specific areas: video games or gaming (32%), industrial sector (21%) and health (13%).
  • The creation of mobile applications (60%), user experience design (57%), artificial intelligence (55%) and web development (54%) are the technological fields most developed by the centers.
  • Eighty percent of these technological innovation centers reach users all over the world, and in almost half of them their role goes beyond the company’s internal services, having the capacity to influence the multinational’s strategic decisions.
  • In 53% of cases, companies in Barcelona have other business divisions, such as marketing and sales (67%), human resources (64%) and operations (61%).
technological innovation

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What are the benefits of technological innovation centers in the territory?

In 1985, Hewlett-Packard created the first business technology hub in Sant Cugat del Vallès, Catalonia. Since then, almost a hundred multinationals in Spain have chosen this region for their technological innovation centers, turning Catalonia and Barcelona into internationally renowned hubs thanks to the synergies with the innovative and entrepreneurial ecosystem of the territory.

Given this background, the question arises: what advantages and benefits do technology innovation centers currently offer in this area?

  1. They attract and stimulate local digital talent, offering highly skilled jobs for local ICT professionals: in Catalonia, the number of ICT graduates has increased by 27% between 2017 and 2021.
  2. They attract international talent: as these centers provide technology services globally, they attract highly skilled digital professionals from all over the world. In 2021, 31.4% of digital talent in Barcelona came from abroad.
  3. They generate a multiplicative effect: for every new professional in the technology sector, five new positions are created in the service sector. In addition, the establishment of a technological innovation center implies a significant investment in taxes, salaries, rents and the acquisition of modern infrastructure. 
  4. They import and implement innovative cultures: multicultural teams in these centers bring with them new ways of working.
  5. They favor the establishment of large companies: the arrival of new technological innovation centers contributes to creating a virtuous circle for the digital economy. As more centers are established, they attract and generate technological talent, which in turn attracts other companies that want to benefit from the digital ecosystem. In Catalonia, the digital economy will account for more than 10% of Catalan GDP by 2021.

Based on the above information, we share with you the 360º profile of the technological innovation centers that are developed in Barcelona:

technological innovation

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Technology innovation centers are playing a key role in the country’s digital transformation, particularly in Barcelona, which has become an epicenter of modernization and invention in Europe.

The benefits of these technological innovation centers are multiple and significant for the economy and the development of local and international talent. If you want to stay informed about technological advances in Spain, subscribe to our library and don’t miss out on the latest news and developments in this exciting field!

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