Is Barcelona becoming the new Silicon Valley?

During the first 3 months of 2016, I have had the opportunity to attend various Technology trade events, while also speaking to a various number of my peers. I find that we usually end up on the same subject “Is Barcelona becoming the new Silicon Valley”? “or, “where will the next Silicon Valley be”?

I have listened to various answers and opinions and also conducted research on emerging “European silicon valleys”, which has left me in no doubt about how instead of us thinking about becoming the next silicon valley, we should concentrate more on investing into their start up infrastructures, business support, tax breaks, employment incentives rather then driving a PR campaign to become the new silicon Valley.

Now it is no longer about the label or the question that we are often asked “where is the next Silicon Valley”, instead, the debate has moved on, since everyone is no living in a silicon somewhere. As this article points out. The article states that over and over again, news agencies are eager to run a story that a new silicon valley is emerging in a different part of the world – this is simply bait giving the consumer the idea that innovation is happening in more places then they realise.

To Create a successful innovation ecosystem, innovation clusters require six key ingredients - Skills, accommodating policy framework, infrastructure, low cost structures (in early stages)a good lifestyle offering and serendipity. We at Datumize have looked at this very closely and in –depth, and can clearly see examples of this in Barcelona, with these key ingredients working together to create a successful economic development programme, in terms of delivering outcomes.

The Economist report says clusters emerge when a network of companies coexist within a geographical location, allowing each of them to collaborate –and compete – in a way which delivers greater productivity gains than they would receive in isolation.

What’s key though is the six factors stated in the report I mentioned earlier. While these factors are necessary, they are not always sufficient. For example Good Universities are little use if there is no connectivity with the industry. A High standard of living is not helpful if immigration policies prevent global talent from moving to the cluster.

What this all points to is the in depth research that is taking place within country governments on how to create their own “Silicon Valley Ecosystem” During the past few years, Barcelona has put itself into the spotlight on the international arena, while the city shines in other area, it has also gained recognition in the business world. A study by “Cushman&Wakefield” has placed Barcelona in 4th place in a ranking of 33 best cities to do business. The city has ben ranked as one of the best places to do business or start a new start up., it even ranked over Madrid in a current survey. Barcelona has generated a cluster of businesses from the design and creative world, but more recently the sector that is gaining pace is that of the IT. More than 1 million square meters of economic activity within Barcelona district are hoping to build the next silicon valley – or something close to it.

Barcelona may never become the next Silicon Valley, but with the Catalan government investing into the infrastructure and with more and more “Tech Start ups” popping up every month, Barcelona’s “Technology Ecosystem” will get very close to replicating San Francisco’s Silicon Valley

written by Adrian Hinrichsen