Barcelona in Numbers: Business, Investment and Innovation

Barcelona in Numbers: Business, Investment and Innovation

Anastasia Zapevalova
7 August 2023

Barcelona is one of the largest expat hubs in the world. Among its more than 1.66 million inhabitants there are almost 372,000 foreigners from 179 countries. The capital of Catalonia attracts expats not only with the warm sea, delicious tapas, and famous architecture. Barcelona is also a city of investment, business, and innovation. The number of startups that were successfully launched 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 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 taken by Berlin and London. Lisbon is fourth.

Catalonia is the 6th region in Europe in terms of employment in the field of high and medium-high technologies. As of 2020, about 202,000 people worked in this area. In this regard, 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 common market of the European Union alone provides access to the 510 million inhabitants. Catalonia is part of the Mediterranean Corridor, a trans-European network for the transport of goods. This corridor gives access to half of the population of the European Union - about 250 million people.

In 2021, Barcelona's exports reached a record €61,655.6 million. External sales in the Barcelona district rose by 21.7% in the context of the economic recovery from the pandemic.


Barcelona ranks first among European cities in terms of strategy for attracting foreign investment, and ninth 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 euros in foreign investment.

The 2021 fDi Intelligence Tech Cities of the Future ranked Barcelona 7th among European tech cities of the future and 5th in terms of prospects for attracting investment in innovation, technology, and start-ups following London, Paris, Dublin, and Amsterdam.


In 2023, Barcelona received the European Entrepreneurial Region Award, which rewards regions and cities in the EU which show an outstanding and innovative entrepreneurial policy strategy.

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

The construction of a new innovative quarter Parc de l'Alba is currently underway in Barcelona. There will be 5,377 new housing units, which will be able to accommodate about 15,000 people. The quarter will occupy 2,000,000 square meters, of which 1,487,805 will be the area of science and technology. This project received 450 million euros of public investment.

Sustainable development

The Barcelona authorities are committed 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 savings. Water consumption per inhabitant per day in 2021 was 104.6 liters, which is 11.4% less than in 2006.

Local authorities encourage the use of public transport and bicycles. A combined ticket for a month for all public transport in Barcelona costs 20 euros. The city has 240 km of cycle 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 about 6,000 inhabitants each. Each superblock is a green safe zone, almost free from cars.


Inside the superblock, only public transport, taxis, cars of local residents and delivery cars can enter, 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 here to open the full statistics report for Barcelona in English.

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