Madrid and Barcelona have long shared the spoils as Spain’s two major business hubs. The wider autonomous communities of Madrid and Catalonia are responsible for a combined 38.5% of the country’s entire GDP, attracting some of the biggest companies in the world and a diverse range of startups.
While this is still the case, Spain’s smaller cities like Valencia, Bilbao, and Malaga aim to attract entrepreneurs, digital nomads, and investors by developing startup hubs as part of the drive that saw 11,000 active startups in 2022.
The new startup hubs
While half of all startups in Spain are concentrated in Madrid and Barcelona, there are emerging territories claiming their share. Andalucía boasts 16 per cent of the country’s startups, while amazing success stories come from other regions.
Charming but small cities can provide a platform for successful startups. Odilo, one of the world’s fastest-growing educational providers, was established in Cartagena and raised over 60 million euros in a recent funding round. San Sebastián and Huesca are home to two successful tech startups that recently generated millions in funding: Multiverse Computing and IriusRisk.
There is a burgeoning startup ecosystem backed by record investment, where in 2021, Valencia attracted over 110 million euros of funding, the Basque Country over 60 million euros, and Andalucia over 50 million euros. Even Castilla y León, a landlocked region without major cities, earned more than 45 million euros in startup funding.
Spain’s third-largest city has a history of successful business ventures. In 2013, Joan Roig, the billionaire founder of the reputable supermarket chain Mercadona, founded Lanzadera, an incubator designed to support entrepreneurs in business development.
Urban renewal is a significant theme of startups in Valencia, with several areas earmarked for regeneration. Hubs and accelerators like Innsomnia and BioHub have sprung up in the redeveloping marina.
VLC Tech City and Startup Valencia encourage the startup ecosystem by highlighting the city’s existing strengths, like the international airport, proximity to Madrid and Barcelona, commercial seaport, the sun, sea, efficient public transport, cycle-friendly streets, and charming old town.
Since 2015, startups in Valencia have raised more than 500 million euros, outstripping every Spanish city other than Barcelona and Madrid.
Considering the InterNations ex-pat community voted for Valencia as the best city in the world to live in, the strength of Valencia’s offer is evident, and it can potentially be one of the top startup cities in the world.
Alicante is another city making strides by promoting digital entrepreneurship through the ‘Alicante Futura’ strategy.
Andalucía shares geographic advantages with Valencia; coastal proximity, year-long sunshine, and several large cities. For example, Malaga has steamed ahead. A recent ranking of the 100 top startups in Spain included 12 started in Malaga, placing it fourth behind Barcelona, Madrid, and Valencia.
What makes Malaga so successful? It is home to the Parque Tecnológico de Andalucía, a leading science and tech innovation park, along with the University of Malaga, which guarantees a hotbed of talent and skills. The icing on the cake is Google’s new Centre of Excellence for Cybersecurity, part of a €530 million investment drive in Spain.
Startups in Seville will find a dynamic working space in El Parque Científico y Tecnológico Cartuja, a technology park near the centre. La Fábrica de Sevilla, a space dedicated to nurturing and supporting startups and entrepreneurs, is in development.
Castilla y Leon
With a startup ecosystem that increased by 13 per cent from 2021, Castilla y Leon has the country’s fastest-growing startup sector. The CYL-Hub is one of many exciting developments to reflect this, committing to the region’s innovation and entrepreneurship by sponsoring an international roadshow for entrepreneurs in Latin America.
The government has committed to further growth in Castilla y Leon with 1.4 million euros in grants for innovative projects driven by companies and startups based in the region.
Home to more than 1,000 startups, the Basque Country rivals anywhere for diversity and innovation.
Last year the first incubator for agri-food startups was launched in this agriculturally-rich region. Named Agour Hazitegia, the incubator will support eco-friendly, agricultural-driven startups.
Additionally, several successful companies with varied goals, from maximising energy efficiency to state-of-the-art injury rehabilitation, from organic drinks to production of casts and splints using sustainable materials are being set in motion.
Anyone wishing to embark on a career as a digital nomad in Spain will find fertile ground with Spain´s new digital nomad visa, the country’s welcoming drive for innovation and entrepreneurialism, and desirable living standards.
This wave of new startups rising is an organic drive for success, with the benefits not only being reaped by the economic heavyweights of Madrid and Barcelona but also across smaller cities.
This article was created by the Contese Agency experts in b2b content marketing services.