Barcelona: an attractive city for French entrepreneurs

Nearly 350 startups have set up in Barcelona. French start-ups are the most numerous among foreigners in the Tech sector to have chosen the Catalan city to develop their business. The city also attracts foreign investment funds.

The capital of innovation

Barcelona's strategic location is one of the main reasons why it is so attractive to the tech industry. Located half an hour from the city center, the airport offers direct flights to San Francisco, Tel Aviv and most European technology centers. French entrepreneurs have easy access to Paris, which can be reached in 1 hr 15 by plane.

The city also boasts a number of organizations offering startup acceleration programs. These include Wayra, owned by the Telefónica banking group, which provides entrepreneurs with access to an extensive network of investors.

Startups that decide to set up in Barcelona can also take advantage ofa polyglot and flexible workforce. For ManoMano, arriving in 2019, being in Barcelona makes recruiting easier, and enables it to strengthen its teams in Spain and five other countries. For its part, PayFit, a French company that develops payroll and human resources management software, opened a talent center last May with the aim of supporting its growth and "getting closer to a pool of qualified profiles", explains Joséphine Charmoz, Sales Director France at Payfit, to Les Echos newspaper.

A pleasant living environment, cost of living 20% lower than in France, labor costs 30% lower thanin France... Barcelona has many assets to convince French entrepreneurs to settle here.

The only drawback is that local funding is less generous than in France. Faced with aid and subsidy programs that are sometimes inadequate, start-ups are more likely to look north of the Pyrenees for funding.

International funds bet on Spanish startups

While the effervescence of Barcelona's ecosystem is attracting more and more French entrepreneurs, it is also attracting international funds.

French private equity firm Breega, for example, has just opened a third office in Barcelona. After raising 105 million euros in 2017, the company has announced a new round of 250 million euros to expand its investments in Spain. Breega's aim is to strengthen its operational support for its 5 startups, but also "to be as close as possible to Barcelona's dynamics" by accessing a pool of talent keen to set up in Spain.

In its latest report, the Catalan government's competitiveness agency states that the number of startups in the region has almost doubled in 5 years, rising from 1,086 in 2016 to 1,902 in 2021. The sector captured nearly 1.5 billion euros last year, twice as much as the previous year.