Catalonia aims to 'continue being a global technological hub'
Government opens tender in ICT sector for 889 million euros
Government opens tender in ICT sector for 889 million euros
In the last few years, tourism has boomed in Barcelona. In 2014, the Catalan capital was the 4th most visited city in Europe and 16th in the world, with almost 8 million foreign visitors that year. Especially during high season, visitors literally invade some parts of the city such as Les Rambles, Antoni Gaudí's main creations and the urban beaches. However, there is much more to Barcelona than just this. Indeed, the city has 73 different neighbourhoods, divided up into 10 districts, each one with its own particular soul and history. For example, inside the district of Sant Martí – just outside Barcelona's historical centre – the neighbourhood of Poblenou is located. Historically known as the 'Catalan Manchester' for its role as the city's industrial centre in the 19th and early 20th century, nowadays it is becoming a very attractive place to live for many young people. Strongly revitalised after the 1992 Olympic Games and currently characterised by a rich architectural landscape and vibrant artistic scene, it represents the city's new business and technology district, being also very interesting for tourists willing to step outside of the usual routes.
The 38th edition of the Barcelona International Motor Show (SIAB) will be held between 9 and 17 May at the Montjuïc venue of the Catalan capital's trade fair. This year, the event will host at least 38 brands and others could be added in the following weeks. This is the biggest number since the economic crisis started. According to Mario Armero, ANFAC Executive Vice President, "the show coincides with a clear recovery of the sector, where 2-digit growth rates have been registered in sales, production and exports volumes". Organised by Fira de Barcelona, SIAB is the only motor show in Spain recognised by the International Organisation of Motor Vehicle Manufacturers. The coming edition will also coincide with the Spanish Formula 1 Grand Prix, transforming the Catalan city into the world's motor capital for a few days.
Sónar+D is an international professional conference for creativity and technological innovation, which coincides with Barcelona's Sónar Festival of electronic and advanced music. The 3rd edition of the professional event will take place in Barcelona on the 18th, 19th and 20th of June 2015, at the same time as the popular and prestigious music festival. Its main aim is to bring together international experts presenting initiatives and tools that will shape future creative experiences in the fields of music, visuals, and interactive content and transmedia platforms. This year, 4,000 professionals and 2,000 companies from all over the world will take part in the event, a remarkable leap forward on last year's figures. "It is not just a fair or a conference", Sonar co-Director Ricard Robles said on Thursday. "It is a 360-degree, all encompassing event, a point of interaction between the creative and technological communities".
The 22@ technological and business district of Barcelona, which is located between Glòries and the Fòrum areas and around the streets of Diagonal and Pere IV, grew by 136% more in 2014 than in the previous year. The area has accumulated 88% of the pre-leased offices and has also attracted 34% of operations in the Catalan capital. This huge growth could come to a stop in a year because some experts warn that there will not be enough space available if there is no new construction. The increase in this area of the city is almost three times higher than the average in Barcelona, which grew to 53.76%. The Information and Communications Technology sector leads office acquisition, with 28% of total real estate investment used to set up offices in Barcelona being accounted for by this sector.
Catalonia exported €56.87 billion worth of industrial products last year, which represents a 3.5% increase on 2013’s figures, according to data released on Wednesday by the Catalan Statistics Institute (Idescat). The exports of high-technology products reached €5.58 billion, a 6.1% growth on figures from the previous year. These were also the type of product which experienced the greatest increase in exports during 2014, mostly thanks to sales from outside the European Union, which increased by 10.9%. Such an important boost also meant that sales outside the EU were larger than exports to other European Union Member States. The international sales of medium-high range products reached €28.27 billion, a 2.8% growth on 2013 figures.
The Catalan company announced on Monday that it will start working in Japan, the world's second-largest market for travel agencies. The Barcelona-based firm highlighted "the importance and potential" of Japan, hoping to gain a high market share within the country. Starting business activities in Japan represents "a gigantic step" for eDreams' internationalisation strategy, stated the company. The land of the rising sun is considered to be the largest travel market in the Asia-Pacific region. eDreams' total amount of online bookings is some $30.8 billion. The company expects this type of booking to represent 40% of total bookings by the end of the current year. Including Japan, eDreams operates in 44 different countries, on 5 different continents.
Barcelona will host one of the main and most innovative business accelerators in the world, Startupbootcamp, which is winner of Europe's 2014 Best Startup Accelerator and specialises in new technologies. The German company will select 10 start-ups from all around the world to help them develop their projects specifically related to the so-called Internet of Things (IoT), which is the technology connecting electronic devices to each other in order to improve quality of life. Startupbootcamp will set up its office in the 22@ technological and business district, which occupies the revamped Poblenou old industrial neighbourhood. During 3 months it will select the projects from the Media TIC building, where the Mobile World Capital has its main offices, which is the foundation that aims to transform Barcelona into the capital for the world's cell-phone and mobility industry, after organising the Mobile World Congress each year.
An old factory in the 22@ technological and business district of Barcelona, named Ca l'Alier, will be transformed into an innovation centre focused on Smart Cities. The French multinational Schneider Electric and the American networking giant Cisco Systems will invest €6 million in the building's renovation in order to set up their new research centres. The two companies then plan to invest a total of €37 million in the centres over the next 5 years. Barcelona´s City Council will also occupy a part of the renovated building for offices for its new Institute of Technology for the Habitat (BIT Habitat). The renovation of the Ca l'Alier factory will be the first step towards the creation of the Smart City Campus, which will be located throughout the 22@ technological district, a developing business area in Barcelona located around the old Poblenou industrial neighbourhood. The new Ca l'Alier research centres are expected to open in the summer of 2016 and to create 160 jobs.
Multinational corporation T-Systems has officially unveiled one of its four operations centres at world level, based in Barcelona. The German company has invested €2.5 million in the centre, creating 170 new jobs in 2013. 350 more employees are expected to be hired in 2014, according to T-Systems. The Catalan Minister for Business and Employment, Felip Puig, who also attended the press conference, stressed that T-Systems is “one of the Catalan Government’s most valuable partners in the field of technology”. Puig added that the Catalan Executive and the German multinational had signed various agreements, lasting from 6 to 10 years, which were worth € 400 million and would generate 2,000 jobs.
The founder and CEO of technology company GFT announced that they will create 500 new jobs in Catalonia in the coming years. In an exclusive interview with the CNA, Ulrich Dietz, stated that he has “aggressive plans to increase the staff” in Greater Barcelona and Lleida. GFT specialises in developing technological solutions for the banking and insurance sectors, with a turnover of €231 million in 2012. With several offices in Germany, the company is based in Stuttgart and is present in Brazil, France, Italy, Switzerland, Spain, US and UK. A quarter of GFT employees throughout the world are based in Catalonia. Most of them work in Greater Barcelona, which is the company’s “hub” for the European market. Dietz explained that he has plans to develop Lleida’s facilities, which currently employ 40 people, “significantly”.
Many international and national companies have set up their headquarters in the 22@ area during the last decade, located in Poblenou, an old industrial district known as the “Catalan Manchester”. The borough continues to change and grow in many ways. Improved traffic distribution for the Plaça de les Glòries or the Design HUB are just some of the new proposals. At the moment, Poblenou is a landscape of contrasts: from hi-tech buildings to abandoned factories. It is a unique urban landscape as well as an ongoing challenge from an architectural, economic and social point of view.
Telefónica’s R&D centre in Barcelona’s 22@ technological district will lead the company’s innovation internationally and will significantly increase its staff numbers, which currently stands at 220 workers. The decision strengthens Barcelona’s position as the Mobile World Capital, as it already hosts the main event of the mobile technology industry at an international level. In total, Telefónica has 6 R&D centres spread throughout the world. Besides Barcelona, the company’s innovation centres are based in Silicon Valley, Sao Paulo, London, Tel Aviv and Madrid. The Barcelona centre is now celebrating its 10th anniversary. In the last decade, Telefónica has invested up to €200 million in its Catalan centre, €28 million of which was in 2012.