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Barcelona, One of the Best European Hubs for Startups, in 2021

Art, culture, good weather and entrepreneurs. Barcelona has it all. The Catalan capital has become the most active startup ecosystem in Spain. Also, one of the most attractive innovation centres in Europe. It is a unique city, home to some of the fastest-growing European startups such as Badi, TravelPerk, Typeform, Glovo, and many more. An international hub full of opportunities for businesses.

So, what makes Barcelona so attractive? More importantly, what are the advantages of building your projects here in Barcelona? Here is a small guide highlighting some of the benefits that the metropolis offers to entrepreneurs. 

Barcelona, a top European innovation hub 

Here is the first reason why it is an excellent city for entrepreneurship. Barcelona has clearly become one of the most famous European innovation ecosystems. For example, every year the capital hosts the most influential event for the communication industry. The Mobile World Congress where: “In 2019, up to 2,400 exhibitors, 8,000 CEOs and 59% of the industries’ most important decision-makers gathered here”. 

In addition to this, The Catalonian capital hosts some of the fastest-growing startups in the country. You can find out about the best Barcelona-based startups in this article by Eu-Startups

Top sectors

According to the Mobile World Capital (MWC) report, in 2018, more than 4000 startups were registered in Spain (1197 based in Barcelona and 1235 in Madrid). 

The sectors:

  • Home 34%
  • Health and wellness 29%
  • Transportation 23%
  • Travel 21%
  • Enterprise software 14%
  • Marketing 4%
  • Finetech 3%

A popular destination for European talent 

Indeed, Barcelona is very accessible and very well connected with the other European cities. A hub for international remote workers and entrepreneurs. It offers a compelling talent pool for startups and entrepreneurs. Linkedin and Atomico, an innovative European venture capital firm from London, ranked Spain the third most attractive destination for qualified talent and, more particularly, in the tech sector. As a result, Barcelona has become a real hub of developers. The MWC reported it as the second fastest-growing country for developers with more than 72 000 professionals in 2018. 

And, besides attracting international tech talent, Barcelona is also home to top-ranking business schools. IESE, EADA or ESADE, mentoring future skilled entrepreneurs ready to jump into the innovation pool.

Resources and support for startups and entrepreneurs  

Secondly, as a tech hub, Barcelona offers many opportunities to help you build, grow, and fund your projects. You can get into incubators programmes to obtain mentorship and support for early-stage startups. And accelerator programmes will help you boost your project already in development. 

Barcelona Activa

Then, if you decide to settle your business in Barcelona, you will hear this name very often. Barcelona Activa. It was founded in 1986 to promote entrepreneurship and local development to boost the city’s economic growth. They help freelancers and entrepreneurs transform their projects into sustainable businesses. They are providing support and funds for entrepreneurs. Also, they organise many informative sessions and also help with specific legal procedures. The initiative offers excellent incubator programmes of 3 years. They provide mentorship, growth opportunities, access to investors network and space where to work.  

Other incubator and accelerator programmes

Itnig is a venture builder in Barcelona located in the fast-growing district of Poble Nou. They build their own startups and invest in other’s innovative projects to help them grow efficiently. They offer ample resources for entrepreneurs: coworking spaces, weekly networking events, talks and workshops involving the community. Itnig also hosts their own podcast to exchange with entrepreneurs and experts to learn about different business cases.  

2 Digits Growth accelerator founded in Barcelona and now operates internationally.  A community of more than 40 experts from different sectors, focussing on identifying new business opportunities and accelerating innovative projects. 

Founded by Jorge Bodón, it is presently one of the trendiest incubators. They build and support projects from scratch. They bet on the talent and help develop great sustainable projects: “You don’t need a team, or an idea to join. We want talented, brave and committed people from a range of backgrounds, or industry experts, with an epic determination to make things happen.

Finally, 101 Startups is an investment fund initiated by students of the Master in Internet Business. It aims to invest in seed-stage internet technology companies. 

Access to a dynamic network of entrepreneurs 

  • Events 

One of the easiest things you can do indeed, is to connect with entrepreneurs in the city. Barcelona hosts hundreds of events for freelancers and innovators. Congresses, like the Mobile World or the Smart City Expo. Formal networking events and also Meetups where experienced CEO, change-makers and investors will share their knowledge and experience. You can find events for everything: investor networking events, startup boot camps, hackathons, recruiting and team building events, training.

  • Coworking spaces 

Another excellent way to connect with other local and international entrepreneurs, find talents, meet potential clients or partners is to navigate the coworking network of Barcelona. With more than 150 coworking spaces in the city centre, networking opportunities are unlimited!

Barcelona offers an exceptional quality of life 

Finally, you cannot ignore the quality of life that offers Barcelona when it comes to choosing the city where you will settle down and start a business. Paris, Berlin or London might come first in mind when you think about entrepreneurship. However, Barcelona has become a strong competitor to those great cities, and I can tell you that the weather has something to do with it.

300 days of sun

The Catalan capital is located on the Eastern coast of Spain. Between the Costa Brava and Costa Dorada, where you can find some of the country’s most beautiful beaches. It is no surprise the sunny weather, and the coastlines make the city very attractive for expats and entrepreneurs. Barcelona is well connected to all European cities with an International airport, El Prat. The sea, sand and sun of Europe. In addition to the whole eternal sunshine vibe, Barcelona is also surrounded by nature and mountains. The city has many parks, green spaces. It is also the only city in Europe with access to the beach in the urban core. 

The cost of living 

The cost of living in Barcelona is lower than most European cities and, most importantly, compared to other attractive hubs for entrepreneurs. Let’s make a quick comparison of primary products and services between Berlin, Paris and Barcelona. 

  • Food:

First of all, let settle this topic now. The food in Spain is cheap. And Spanish gastronomy is incredible. That said, let’s discuss the numbers. A lunch menu in Barcelona will cost you on average €12 against €18 in Paris and €15 in Berlin. Beer, for example, will cost you on average €3 in Barcelona, €6 in Paris and €4 in Berlin.

  • Transportation:

Barcelona has an excellent public transport service, connecting the whole city and suburbs. A monthly pass for general public transportation (metro, tramway, bus) costs €54 in Barna against 74€ in Paris and €82 in Berlin. Barcelona is also small compared to other cities, and it is easy to move around walking. You can cross the hyper centre in less than an hour and a half. It is a great way to discover the hidden gems of the city.  

  • Housing:

Now, we are comparing the prices of rentals for a 45sqm flat in the city centres. In Barcelona, fees range between €650 to €850 plus charges per month. In Paris, where housing is very expensive, prices will vary between €1300 and €1800 plus charges per month depending on the area. And finally, in Berlin, for this surface area, rental rates will fluctuate between €800 and €1100.

If you want to find out more about Cost of Living in Barcelona, you can find a detailed report on Nomadlist.

Excellent health care system 

The Spanish healthcare system is internationally known as one of the best in the world. According to the World Health Organisation, the Spanish healthcare is ranked number 7 in the world. Indeed, their public healthcare system guarantees universal coverage, free of charge for all people residing and working in the country.

Barcelona is indeed the perfect location for business and life! A complete ecosystem for entrepreneurs that want to settle down in a vibrant city. A place where history, art, culture and innovation are shaping the future. If you ever decide to visit Barcelona, don’t forget to come and say “Hi” at La Vaca!
Finally, let’s wrap-up this article with a quote: “Allow me to state here how much I love Barcelona, an admirable city, a city full of life, intense, a port open to the past and future.” – Le Corbusier.