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The network of Catalan startups has grown healthily in the last five years. Specifically, the number of emerging companies has increased by 60% since 2016, to 1,708 as detected by the latest count made by the Catalan government through its enterprise ministry. This count is just one of the conclusions of the latest ACCIÓ study, based on data from Barcelona & Catalonia Startup Hub, which includes companies with a maximum of 10 years of life, that use scalable, repeatable and applicable business models in global and rapid growth-oriented environments. In addition, if we start from the 2019 data, 13.5% more companies have been detected. This positive evolution consolidates the network of companies of this type in Catalonia.

These 1,708 companies are responsible for 17,500 jobs in Catalonia, with an average employment per company of 10 workers per company and with a strong international component, specifically, 26% of startup workers in Catalonia are foreigners, a percentage that reduces to 20% in the case of the founders. This element - the strong internationalization of companies - highlights the attractiveness of Barcelona in attracting international talent.

Of the total companies detected, the majority (22%) are engaged in the information and communication technology (ICT), leisure (21%) and health (17%) sectors. However, two-thirds of the companies work with technologies linked to Industry 4.0 - that is, using technologies such as big data (13%), the cloud (13%), artificial intelligence (11%) or the Internet of Things (9%).

Barcelona, ​​fourth largest hub in the EU

Barcelona's good performance as a startup hub has consolidated the city as the fourth ranked hub for emerging companies in the European Union, behind only Berlin, Paris and Amsterdam, according to StartupBlink, a research centre that analyzes the startup quality and quantity, as well as the business environment and critical mass. In addition, according to Startup Heatmap Europe, Barcelona continues to occupy the second place in the EU as the preferred hub for creating a company - and for the fourth consecutive year.

Regarding the financing of these companies, the report highlights that in the last five years, startups based in Barcelona have attracted more than 2.8 billion euros of investment, consolidating the city in third place in the EU in numbers of funding rounds. Moreover, the study shows that 75% of startups have secured funding at some point in their existence. Twenty-six percent of the funding rounds raised by these companies have raised more than one million euros.

Future perspectives

The study by the public competitiveness agency ACCIÓ also consulted employers on their future prospects and 85% say they see 2021 “optimistically” and anticipate an improvement in their results. By contrast, 9% expect to maintain the results of the previous year and 6% plan to reduce the size or turnover of their company or close it down.

However, if we look at the figures for 2020, a year marked by the pandemic, the survey indicates that 69% of companies increased or did not have significant changes in their activity. Specifically, 34% of startups say that during 2020 they improved their activity and 35% did not report any significant change. By contrast, the remaining 31% suffered from the crisis and have seen their activity decline.