1,902 startups in Catalonia, up 11% in 2021

Business minister highlights "broad" ecosystem with almost 20,000 workers and turnover of more than €1.7bn

Business and labor minister Roger Torrent in an event in Barcelona on February 7, 2022 (by Maria Alenyà)
Business and labor minister Roger Torrent in an event in Barcelona on February 7, 2022 (by Maria Alenyà) / ACN

ACN | Barcelona

February 7, 2022 02:11 PM

The number of startups in Catalonia grew by 11% in 2021, bringing the total to 1,902 companies, according to a study carried out by government agency Catalonia Trade & Investment.

"It is a vast ecosystem that continues to grow in quality and quantity," Business and Labor Minister Roger Torrent said at the presentation of the report.

The study also found that Catalan startups employ some 19,300 people and maintained a "stable" turnover of €1.71bn in 2020, despite the challenges brought on by the pandemic.

The most common sectors for emerging companies in Catalonia are health, business services and information and communications technology (ICT).

Catalonia Trade & Investment, known as ACCIÓ in Catalan, is a public body that works to attract foreign direct investment to Barcelona and Catalonia.

New jobs and increased turnover

The 19,300 employed by startups in Catalonia in 2020 was 10% more than in 2019, in other words, an additional 1,800 jobs.

The number of startups with more than 10 employees has increased from 15% in 2018 to 24% in 2020. This is greater than the average for all companies in Catalonia; only 5.5% have more than 10 employees.

One in four people who work at startups are foreign nationals, with most coming from western Europe (41%), North America (15%) and South America (15%).

Turnover is also on the up. While in 2018 77% of Catalan startups had a turnover of less than €500,000, by 2020 that figure had fallen to 67%. According to the report, 73% of startups have international clients, representing almost half - 47% - of turnover.

"Very good" position in Barcelona

"We are in a very good position. Barcelona and Catalonia have established themselves as the main hub for startups in southern Europe," Torrent said.

The county (comarca) with the most startups is Barcelonès (which includes the city of Barcelona), followed by Baix Llobregat, Vallès Occidental and Maresme.

4,000 startups by 2030

Catalonia's goal is to have 4,000 startups by the year 2030, explained Lluís Juncà Pujol, managing director of innovation and entrepreneurship.

He also wants to increase the number of companies valued at $1bn, known as 'unicorns' from six to 15. "There are 5 or 6 that could be unicorns next year," he said.