Barcelona, a digital technology hub
- Open data
- Apr 23
- 4 mins
Oriol Pàmies, texts Carles Javierre Kohan, infographics
The charts point to Barcelona as a leading hub of the new economy, which is developed around information and communication technologies (ICT). In recent years, the city has strengthened its position as an international digital hub, where innovation and entrepreneurship are thriving, and where major events such as the Mobile World Congress are held. The drivers are the high level of education in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics), the dense ecosystem (the network of interconnected digital platforms and services that create value for businesses and consumers) and the high quality of life.
The economy’s technology sector, clearly on the rise
The added value of the information and communications sector, which includes ICT, is constantly growing, as is its relative contribution to the local economy as a whole, of which it is already a major component.
Digital talent in Barcelona
In the wake of the pandemic, the recruitment of digital professionals has gained momentum, with almost 100,000 jobs in Barcelona. In 2021, two out of every ten job offers were digital, with the most sought-after profile being that of web developer. In emerging technologies, the demand for specialists in the Internet of Things (IoT) is particularly high.
Pool of future professionals
The profusion of schools and the high standard of technological and scientific education, especially in public universities, is one of Barcelona’s strengths. The UPC is a leader in both mature and emerging technologies (the most innovative and that have not yet reached their maturity).
Attracting talent and international investment
Barcelona not only creates talent, it attracts it. It also attracts investors from all over the world: among the projects that arrived in 2022 under the auspices of Barcelona City Council, 60% came from outside the European Union. The number of start-ups (new companies with high growth potential) has shot up 86% since 2016. In Catalonia as a whole, 86.7% of start-ups are located in the Barcelona Metropolitan Area.
The gender gap remains in the new economy
Women account for one third of employees in the ICT sector, the same as in industry and well below leading sectors such as health and creative activities. Barcelona ranks better in comparison with nine competing European cities. The technology pay gap is narrowing and is now half the average for the city.
Fertile ground for entrepreneurship
Entrepreneurship is key to boosting the digital economy. And in the total early-stage entrepreneurial activity or TEA rate (percentage of the population aged 18 to 64 involved in a business that has been running for less than 3.5 years), Barcelona and Catalonia are at the forefront in Spain and above the European average. Sant Martí (home to 22@) is the leading district.
European capital of technology hubs
Barcelona is home to 96 global technology development centres for companies as powerful as HP, Nestlé, PepsiCo and Bayer. Their economic impact amounts to 1.4 billion euros and they employ some 15,000 people, 35% of whom can be classified as digital nomads. The attraction of these hubs to a particular territory is considered strategic, given their positive impact in areas such as attracting highly specialised local and international talent, boosting the economy and local service providers, and other intangible benefits, such as the imported knowledge associated with innovation and digitalisation.
Supercomputing at the service of science
Research is further advanced by equipment such as MareNostrum, one of Europe’s most powerful supercomputers. Since its launch in 2005 (then version 1), it has been used to perform massive data analysis in virtually all scientific disciplines, from astrophysics to materials physics, biomedicine, engineering and industry.
A solid international position
Since 2017 Barcelona has made an appearance on lists of innovative and benchmark cities in the realm of technology. The sector’s stated goal is to become an economic pillar of the city by 2030.
Subscribe to our newsletter to keep up to date with Barcelona Metròpolis' new developments