Miquel Martí, General Manager of Barcelona Tech City
Promoted by a group of entrepreneurs committed to the city and with ties to the new technology sector, in partnership with Barcelona City Council through Barcelona Activa and with support from the Government of Catalonia and organizations like Mobile World Capital, the Barcelona Tech City cluster, initially known as Ecommerce & Tech Barcelona, was launched more than two years ago, bringing together entrepreneurs who are the main exponents of the digital and e-commerce sector in the city.
What is the goal that led to the creation of the Barcelona Tech City cluster and what are the strategic lines set to achieve it?
In late 2012, a group of entrepreneurs in the city who believed that Barcelona has all of the ingredients necessary to be the technology hub of southern Europe (multinational tech corporations and organizations that act as a driving force for the sector, governments that support it, investors, incubators and accelerators, universities and business schools, and especially companies, some of which are great success stories) decided to join forces. So they created Ecommerce&Tech Barcelona, now Barcelona Tech City.
As a whole, our strategic lines are based on consolidating and promoting Barcelona as a brand associated with technological excellence, making start-ups in the sector more competitive by creating workspaces among the various stakeholders in the sector (mainly entrepreneurs and investors), spreading knowledge and experience (events, workshops and conferences), attracting international companies and investors, connecting the digital sector with traditional retail, fostering talent for the sector and connecting with large-scale initiatives in the digital sector in the city, in particular the Mobile World Capital and Congress.
What types of companies or professionals are currently among your members?
Right now our members include digital and technology companies and start-ups, companies from more traditional sectors that are committed to a digital strategy, international companies from the sector, networks of business angels and venture capital companies, and what we call enablers (law firms, consultancies, etc.), which provide services to start-ups and companies from the sector. All of which have to meet one requirement: be based in Barcelona.
Companies of any size are welcome in the cluster, form the largest like Edreams-Odigeo and Privalia, to early-stage start-ups.
Barcelona Tech City is a new show of support from the Administration, which has already been seen in other arenas (biotechnology, energy, design, audiovisual and ICT). To what extent is this fact important?
The most successful technology ecosystems in the world, like London, New York, Berlin and Tel Aviv, are a result of close collaboration between the public and private sectors.
This alignment is key to bridging the gap between business needs and public policies. In order to be truly effective, key issues such as funding, taxes, legal and regulatory frameworks, training, talent, internationalization, etc. require an ongoing dialog between the government, the stakeholders and the private sector.
The weight of the e-commerce sector in Barcelona is growing. What are its current dimensions in terms of number of companies, turnover and jobs?
According to our first sectorial report, presented in April this year, the digital companies and start-ups of Barcelona employ more than 10,000 professionals, 5,000 more than in the previous study presented in 2012, and the joint turnover for the sector is over 6 billion euros, 4 billion more than in the previous study. The evolution has been very positive.
Regarding the number of companies, Barcelona Tech City now represents more than 300 start-ups and companies in the digital and technology sector based in Barcelona.
On a global level, how is Barcelona positioned in this sector and what is its outlook in the middle term?
Barcelona offers options that we believe are highly attractive for companies in the technology sector. In addition to the well-known lifestyle, the city also has a world-renowned brand, driving forces like Mobile World Capital and the Congress, good facilities, access to competitive talent, successful business projects, etc. that are attracting the interest of international investors, companies and talent, who want to know what else is happening in the city. Cases like Edreams-Odigeo, Privalia, Softonic, SocialPoint, Trovit, Wallapop and Scytl, to name just a few, show that it is possible to create globally successful companies in Barcelona.
The sector has shown very positive growth, and the indicators back this up. However we must be aware that some aspects must still be improved, like in the legal framework and tax code, funding, regulatory issues, administrative processes, training and technology transfer, etc. In short, we must continue working on a series of measures that will allow us to not only create global projects based in Barcelona but also to attract even more international projects and investors to the city.
Finally, how does the cluster help position the Barcelona brand as a benchmark on the global technology scene?
Contributing to the Barcelona brand is one of the cluster’s top priorities. The new brand, Barcelona Tech City, above all addresses our desire, in the middle term, to join the group of top global technology hubs, like New York with NYC Digital and London with its Tech City.
Apart from the brand, at Barcelona Tech City we’ve also compiled our first sectorial report to highlight a series of indicators that show the current state and evolution of the sector. It is also worth noting that we are working towards having our own headquarters, in order to convey the physical image of an association geared towards its start-ups, which will allow us to show international investors and companies that Barcelona is a hub to take into account, given its great dynamism.
And in line with all of this, we are working with both Barcelona Activa and ACC1Ó to foster the international projection of our companies and help international start-ups and entrepreneurs with the landing process and to connect with the Barcelona digital ecosystem.