Barcelona has the commitment of all economic agents to keep growing as a city of culture, knowledge, creativity and science; the best environment for talent.
The system of support for businesses in Barcelona, first European Capital of Innovation, has evolved over many years to become a fully-fledged “ecosystem”. It brings together the research / academic components, including infrastructures and services to support spin-offs; public funding services to support new and existing businesses (e.g cluster policy); private / semi-private initiatives (e.g. accelerators, events) and demand side policies (e.g. regulation and innovative public procurement).
“In 2010 we had all the ingredients of an ecosystem, but they were not speaking to each other. We’ve just created the connections between them” - Itziar Blasco (Barcelona Activa)
Barcelona Activa, funded to promote employment and enterprise creation, plays a central role in the support of business, as other agents, like universities, chamber of commerce and technological centres are in charge of other functions of the ecosystem.
In the stand-up and start-up phase, BCN Activa provides resources and events to help aspiring entrepreneurs, like through an on-line “Test your idea” service, an interactive tool to help entrepreneurs with their idea and its potential.
All supported by daily seminars, a wide offer of training courses and expert support, specific groups of people (e.g. support for female entrepreneurship) and specific economic sectors are targeted in its activity program.
Special success is having the Business Landing Service and the incubators.
In 2017, Barcelona Activa has executed a budget of 54.6M euros, of which 60% is destined to employment, 11% in support services to companies and 11% in the promotion of entrepreneurship and support to the creation of companies
Evidence of success
Barcelona Ecosystem has fed into important results, in terms of economic growth and well-being. E.g., between 2011 and 2014, 96 foreign ICT investment projects were set up in the Barcelona area (more than 6,500 jobs).
Summary of activity of Barcelona Activa in 2017:
- Total people attended: 52.411
- Trained people (occupational training): 4.463
- People attended Entrepreneurship: 14.395
- New business projects accompanied: 2.126
- Total companies attended: 6.052
• Time spent focusing on the long-term policy vision.
• Efforts and attitude needed to work institutional and personal complicities, which bring informal as well as formal cooperation.
• Balancing top-down and bottom-up initiatives.
• Not enough availability of seed and venture capital.
Potential for learning or transfer
• To cooperate among the different administration levels as well as with the other helix (universities and hospitals, businesses and clusters, civil society).
• To stablish a long term common vision, beyond the political cycle.
• To settle a mix of holistic innovation programs to cover the diverse needs of diverse agents of the ecosystem. To share a common strategic framework to coordinate such different policies as attraction of talented people, incubators support programs, public-private partnership actions, regulation and promotion of new urban lifestyle, cluster creation, living labs, science and technology push, networking and cultural issues of an entrepreneur society, etc.
• To let flow the ecosystem. To boost an entrepreneurship ecosystem the local government needs time and patience, identifying success cases. And it may not want to control and manage all their functions. It is more about creating and taking care of equilibrium between different interests and needs.
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