Business Management

Q&A: Barcelona and the Spanish startup scene

This short Q&A with Pep Gomez, Chairman of NUMA Barcelona, a growth acceleration program for tech startups, looks at the city’s active entrepreneur scene and its chances of becoming the next European tech hub over the coming year.


How would you describe the entrepreneurial scene in Spain? 

Barcelona and Madrid, two of the biggest cities in Spain, are also two of the biggest players on the European startup scene. Barcelona, for example, now has 746 startups in a city with a population of under five million.

There are also several startup accelerators and incubators in Spain to ensure investment in the tech sector is ongoing. Moreover, particularly in these two cities - Madrid and Barcelona - the country successfully manages to attract top tech talent and this plays an important role to keep entrepreneurial levels high.

The Spanish market and environment for startups is well established and I am confident that the tech scene in Spain will continue to flourish in the years to come.


Compared to other European countries, how well is Spain set up for entrepreneurialism?

Spain is an appealing hub for entrepreneurs for a number of reasons: there is a wealth of tech talent, both domestic and imported; competitive salaries and of course it has great weather. The combination of these factors attracts entrepreneurs from all over the world. In fact, Barcelona and Madrid ranked in the top 10 in Europe by number of startups in 2016 and Barcelona was the fifth most popular city in Europe for its startup scene.

To take full advantage of Spain’s potential, we need to implement more tax friendly policies to encourage further investment in startups based in Spain.


What initiatives are taking place to stimulate business growth in Spain? Are these mostly led by the EU/ government? Or do they tend to be more commercial?

In Spain, we have initiatives from both the public and the private sectors. The national and regional governments of Spain have programmes that are designed to help stimulate the country’s economy via schemes like incubators and training grants. On the commercial side of things, there are also some interesting initiatives that invest in companies, co-working spaces and accelerators.

The networking opportunities created by the array of conferences and events held each year are also invaluable to the startup community in Spain. The Mobile Web Congress alone brings close to 100,000 entrepreneurs to the city each February.


How did the idea for NUMA Barcelona come about? 

NUMA Barcelona is a joint venture of the French global innovation network NUMA and mVenturesBcn – the programme launched by Mobile World Capital Barcelona (MWCB) with the aim to create and support new digital projects and businesses.

NUMA was created with the aim of building a global innovation network. It was founded in Paris and thus far has accelerated 104 startups since 2011. It currently has programmes in Russia, India, Morocco and France.


What will this mean in practice for local entrepreneurs?

NUMA Barcelona is targeted at local and international entrepreneurs. NUMA’s goal is to attract the best talent and the most interesting projects to our city, Barcelona. This benefits international and local entrepreneurs alike as they can take advantage of the additional talent, events and networking opportunities that come about as a result.


What are your short, medium and long-term plans for NUMA?

We are currently working with our first ten startups and are really looking forward to our Demo Day at Mobile World Congress this February.

In the medium and long term there will be at least three other editions of NUMA Barcelona. This is the first edition so we want to make sure that we are constantly improving.


What is the advantage of Barcelona over other European cities?

One of the main attractions for international talent is the lifestyle that we have here in Barcelona. In addition to our great weather there is an active local community, excellent transport links to the rest of the world and we are much cheaper than many other major European cities.


What particular startup trends are you noticing in the city?

The key trends we are noticing here in Barcelona for startups right now are in the FinTech, Virtual Reality (VR), tourism and ecommerce sectors.


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