Creativity and entrepreneurship

Catalonia is a land of ideas that never fails to surprise


Pedrera Gaudí. Photo: Ajuntament de Barcelona

Catalans like ideas in a whole range of different fields: business, culture, sport, cuisine or science. And they also like putting them into practice, they are pretty good at making them successful. Creativity provides more than 100,000 jobs in Barcelona. In fact, according to the survey on the Barcelona City Brand, 2016, the Catalan capital is the 4th most creative city in the world and the 1st emerging creative city.

The best place to kick-start your startup

With startups being one of the strongest employment and income creators in Europe, Barcelona is the 5th Startup Region in Europe according to Compass and ACCIÓ, behind London, Paris, Berlin and Amsterdam. The CITIE 2015 report lists Barcelona as the 4th Best city favouring digital entrepreneurship. Furthermore, the Catalan capital ranks extremely well in terms of cost of living & best location for office space costs.

Startups have a real impact

The startup economy in Catalonia employs some 10,000 people. Barcelona has become a clear benchmark in Europe in the creation of new companies, especially those with a technological base. This growth is the result of different factors such as local infrastructures, private support programmes and services for entrepreneurship, successful entrepreneurs that have helped to create networks of incubators, accelerators and investment vehicles that safeguard the new companies, and the presence of internationally renowned trade fairs such as the Mobile World Congress, 4YFN, Smart City Expo, IOT and Barcelona Games World.

According to a report of Spain’s Association for Capital, Growth and Investment (ASCRI) Catalan startups received in 2015 a total of €371m from both public funds as well as accelerators and incubators, VC funds and corporations. Catalonia grabbed 56 % of the total investment volume in Spain (€659.4m) and 33 % of all operations. Moreover, on international VC investments Catalonia accounted for 53% of all deals and 71% of the amount invested in Spain (€277.2m).

Big on Design

Constantly taking a fresh look at things is a national trait. Proof of this are the over 50 design schools in Catalonia, training some 6,000 professionals a year.

Over the years, these professionals have built close links to sectors such as technology, communications, culture and the economy, whilst defining a flourishing local design culture in fields such as graphic design, industrial design, retail, architecture and fashion. And due to this active design ecosystem, international companies have chosen Catalonia to locate their top strategic design centres.

Some examples of events, schools and institutions working in creativity and design are, among others:

  • Escac, one of the best cinema and audovisual schools in the world
  • Loop, an international community of artists exploring the possibilities of video and film in contemporary art
  • Sònar, and international festival of advanced music and technology
  • Disseny Hub Bcn, an innovative and experimental municipal facility to foster knowledge economy, creativity and innovation
  • 080 Barcelona Fashion, a platform to raise the profile of fashion designers
  • Fadfest, to act as a catalyst for innovation organized by Fad (Fostering Arts and Design)
  • Barcelona Design Centre cluster brings together companies from the Catalan design centre
  • Elisava, one of the most important schools of design and engineering in Europe

When you start, it’s good to have some help

Catalonia offers incubators & accelerators and ample funding opportunities for startup companies: from business angels, equity crowdfunding, and pledge fund to participatory loans or venture capital. Barcelona’s status as the Mobile World Capital also has put it on the global technology map and means increased interest from VC firms who use events such as the Mobile World Conference or 4YFN to search for investment opportunities.

Richard Florida

With its strengths in industrial design, fashion and technology, Barcelona is well positioned for growth in the Creative Age.