Barcelona in numbers: business, investment and innovation

Barcelona in numbers: business, investment and innovation

Anastasiia Zapevalova
7 August 2023

Barcelona is one of the world's largest expat hubs. Among its more than 1.66 million inhabitants, almost 372,000 are foreigners from 179 countries. The capital of Catalonia interests expats not only because of its warm sea, delicious tapas and famous architecture. Barcelona is a city of investment, business and innovation. The number of startups that have successfully taken off here is constantly growing, attracting even more investors to the region. We have collected statistics that clearly show that Barcelona is not only a cultural capital, but also a business capital.


Barcelona is the 3rd most popular city in Europe for startups. The first two places in the StartUp Heatmap Europe ranking are occupied by Berlin and London. Lisbon is fourth.

Catalonia is the 6th region in Europe for employment in the field of high and medium-high technologies. As of 2020, approximately 202,000 people worked in this field. In this indicator, Catalonia surpasses such regions as Piedmont (Turin), Veneto (Venice), Darmstadt (Frankfurt) and Ile-de-France (Paris).


Barcelona has access to very dynamic large markets. The European Union's common market alone provides access to 510 million EU residents. Catalonia is part of the Mediterranean Corridor, a trans-European network for the transport of goods. This corridor provides access to half the population of the European Union - about 250 million people.

In 2021, exports from Barcelona reached a record 61,655.6 million euros. External sales in the Barcelona region increased by 21.7% in the context of economic recovery after the pandemic.


Barcelona is in first place among European cities in terms of strategy for attracting foreign investment, and in ninth place in the world in terms of the number of foreign investment projects. It also ranks 7th among European hubs for attracting investment in the technology sector.


Between 2017 and 2021, Barcelona attracted more than €18 million in foreign investment.

The 2021 ranking of tech cities of the future according to fDi Intelligence magazine places Barcelona in 7th place among European tech cities of the future and in 5th place in terms of prospects for attracting investment in innovation, technology and start-ups. According to these indicators, Barcelona follows London, Paris, Dublin and Amsterdam.


In 2023, Barcelona received the European Entrepreneurial Region Award, which rewards EU regions and cities that have demonstrated the use of innovative strategies in entrepreneurship.

Catalonia is the region with the largest number of innovative companies in Spain (22.9%). It accounts for more than a quarter (26.4%) of Spain's total expenditure on innovation.

A new innovation quarter, Parc de l'Alba, is currently under construction in Barcelona. There will be 5,377 new housing units, where about 15,000 people will live. The quarter will occupy 2,000,000 square meters, of which 1,487,805 will be a science and technology zone. This project received 450 million euros of public investment.

Sustainable development

The Barcelona authorities adhere to the principles of sustainable development. It is ranked 14th in the European Cities Sustainability Index. Barcelona is a benchmark for European cities in terms of water conservation. Water consumption per resident per day in 2021 amounted to 104.6 liters, which is 11.4% less than in 2006.

Local authorities are encouraging the use of public transport and bicycles. A comprehensive ticket for a month for all public transport in Barcelona costs 20 euros. The city has 240 km of bicycle paths. 85% of transport in Barcelona is sustainable.

Now Barcelona is being reorganized according to the concept of superblocks. The idea is to create larger neighborhoods, with approximately 6,000 residents each. Each such super quarter is a green safe zone, almost free from cars.


Only public transport, taxis, local residents' cars and delivery vehicles can enter the block, and the speed limit is 10 km/h. About 60% of streets with traffic will become public spaces. The reorganization should be completed by 2030.

Click this link to view the full statistical report for Barcelona in English.

Get a free consultation
Please enter your contacts

We have recieved your request

Our managers will contact you soon.