If you are not familiar with the world's tech scene, don't yet live in Barcelona ('yet' because you definitely should), or you simply have been living under a rock for the last 10 years, then you may not be aware that Barcelona is an absolute startup hub ('absolute' because there is no doubt about it). British investment firm Atomico released its 2017 annual report 'The State of European Tech' and it found Barcelona to stand in the 3rd position of best cities to set up a startup within Europe.
As I write this, Barcelona is the 8th top city in the world on the list of best places to live, work and play for digital nomads, beating cities like London, Madrid, Montreal, San Francisco and New York. This means there’s a lot of people out there that think Barcelona is a pretty great place for the birth of a startup. There are two reasons Barcelona has become the buzzy, techy and thriving hub it is today; quality of life and planning. Please allow us to explain.
QUALITY OF LIFE
Let us start with the more simple of the two reasons; without a doubt Barcelona is a desirable place to live.
For starters, Barcelona has 55 rainy days a year, compared to London's 109 days of rain a year, and it has 15 hours a day of sunlight from May through to October. That’s double the amount of most Northern European cities! Do you still need more reasons to agree that Barcelona is the best choice?
Barcelona's higher education is internationally renowned. The city boasts two celebrated business schools IESE and ESADA and two highly prestigious universities: The University of Barcelona and Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona. It is also host to the University Pompeu Fabra, a university ranked as one of the seven fastest-rising young universities in the world by The Times Higher Education. In other words, Barcelona ticks the education box too.
The cost of living in Barcelona is considerably lower than in other European cities. To highlight a few of the most important price comparisons, beer is between 38.90% - 47.81% cheaper in Barcelona than in London. A cappuccino is 39.12% cheaper in Barcelona than London. Last but definitely not least, a bottle of mid-range wine is 38.51% cheaper than in London! Don’t know about you, but we're sold.
To top it all off, Barcelona has plenty of beaches and mountains. If you want to head to a beach you can choose between Barceloneta, Nova Icaria, Bogatell, and Mar Bella within the city. If you head a few miles out of the city, you will find also find countless beautiful beaches, there are just too many name!
What do all these features lend their hand to? The attraction of people, including a lot of young, international, and talented people who play a big role in the tech industry. Many of them experienced and well versed developers, ambitious and vision driven entrepreneurs, and tech savvy marketers, to name but a few. In fact, as of October 2017, 1 in 4 people working within the Barcelona startup ecosystem are internationals. This surge of talent in Barcelona is due to the quality of life the city has to offer. A huge reason why Barcelona has become an major startup hub.
Other than the incidental beauty and contagious energy of the city, another reason why Barcelona is a startup hub is the incidental-organised planning. The city and many of its official bodies started planting the seed of its tech industry many years ago in the 1980s.
One big player in this incentive was, and still is, Barcelona Activa. Barcelona Activa began in 1986 as a business incubator with a goal to direct all of its energy towards supporting entrepreneurs. It did this, and continues to do this, by offering advice, training, recommending service providers and connecting early stage companies with investors. Today, Barcelona Activa has 10 different facilities through which they carry out their activities, including but not limited to: Glòries Business Incubator (spaces for innovative startups), Glòries Entrepreneurship Centre (the city entrepreneurs' facility), Business Support Office (the symbol of Barcelona's economic strategy), Barcelona Advanced Industry Park (an innovation cluster in the north of the city) and Cibernàrium(a technological training centre for professionals and companies).
The planning was and continues to be a combined effort by the government, the universities, mentors, service providers, investors and entrepreneurs. What has all the deliberate planning resulted in?
When we take a look at Barcelona now, we see a thriving tech industry and a melting pot of talent, with of course plenty of sun, beautiful beaches and a lot of mouthwatering tapas! However, this wasn't always the case. For this we have the unique quality of life Barcelona has to offer to all those brave enough to make the move to the city, and the thoughtful planning done by the city and its officials since many years ago. Their combined effort and persistence has resulted in the following, which, according to Catalonia Trade & Investment, is true of the startup scene in Barcelona: 1200 startups, a turnover of 1.2million euros, 11,700 jobs, 30 Barcelona based private accelerators and 5th place standing in Europe for healthiest startup ecosystem. If this doesn’t convince you, we encourage you to experience the city to see it for yourself.
At OneCoWork, we are proud to be nurturing and investing in some of Barcelona's most exciting and promising startups. To develop further on this topic, we recommend reading a summary of a recent event we held in which Barcinno’s founder, Scott Mackin, discussed why Barcelona is the startup hub it is today, and how to harness the full potential of a startup ecosystem.