Imagen | BCN Tech City
Miquel Martí is the director of Barcelona Tech City, an organization based in Barcelona that aims to help make the city a startup hub in southern Europe and one of the most important on the whole continent.
We interviewed Martí to learn more about the initiatives of the organization and find out how it intends to achieve its goals.
Ecommerce & Tech Barcelona was the precursor of BCN Tech City. Why and when was BCN Tech City conceived and what goals have been achieved since then?
Tech City BCN began in 2013 as a result of the reflection and drive of entrepreneurs from some of the major digital companies in the city that have emerged over recent years, as well as the support of Barcelona Activa. Big names in the business like Miguel Vicente, Lucas Carné, Marcel Rafart, Ignasi Costas, Didac Lee or Carlos Blanco among others are united in the belief that Barcelona has become the hub of technological initiatives in southern Europe, and that, among other initiatives, it was necessary to create a permanent structure that would facilitate its ability to keep growing.
In just the last two years the association has seen the highest growth in its membership in the city (among similar organizations), and has managed to net some of the bigger fish into the ecosystem such as Mobile World Capital Foundation, CaixaBank and ESADE. It has made collaborations with major companies such as Facebook and also come to agreements with entities such as ENISA and major universities (University of Barcelona, Pompeu Fabra University, among others) along with incubators and accelerators (such as connector, Incubio, or the Founder Institute).
It’s now the second year that we have run an annual program of activities targeted at networking meetings and training in specific areas of business and conferences. We have collaborated on and attended events like 4YFN, Sonar, BizBarcelona and Challengers. We have also participated in trade missions to Israel and promoted some unique projects such as the newly created brand (BCN Tech City) and the launch of our first study of the digital sector in Barcelona.
Is the idea of rebranding to BCN Tech City to expand the initiative to companies that are not exclusively in the realm of ecommerce?
Of course the heart of the initiative is ecommerce, but we have been organically incorporating entrepreneurs from other sectors. Today all the startups and companies that form this organization share common ground in that they are Internet and/or mobile-based.
In this sense, what other tech sectors – besides ecommerce – do you think are having an impact on the city?
Sectors such as media (including classifieds, digital marketing agencies, technology developers, software and related digital and transmedia marketing services), software development, tourism, social networking and gaming have a very important presence in the city and alongside other sectors such as fintech and e-health, and the sharing economy in general will increasingly make more of a presence in the ecosystem.
Why should a startup choose Barcelona as its headquarters for their business? What has it got to offer that makes it distinct from other cities?
Barcelona is a great city to live in and it’s been working for a while to also become a great destination to develop a strong professional career.
In addition to holding a strategic location – a bridge that connects Spain and the rest of Europe – we have research centers and a world class technological infrastructure that include Barcelona’s supercomputer and synchrotron. Barcelona benefits on the one hand from an administration that cultivates entrepreneurship (local, regional and central) and that is linked with large organizations and international corporations (especially through the MWC), as well as VC firms and Business Angels networks and specialized legal advisors. It is also home to a number of incubators and accelerators (public and private) homegrown talent (leading universities and top-tier business schools), and above all we have seen a large number of local and international companies achieve success in the global market that are based in Barcelona.
Imagen | BCN Tech City
The quality of Barcelona’s startup ecosystem is already recognized in Spain and Europe. However, what do you think is lacking in the city, and how can improvements be made to the ecosystem?
Barcelona must continue with its firm commitment to entrepreneurship and the digital technology sector which is one of the engines of employment and the city’s economy, with special emphasis on the connections between academia, industry and training (promoting entrepreneurship and technology transfer). This will uphold the international image of Barcelona as a city of startups that continues to attract talent, companies and investors.
And in general terms, not only for Barcelona but for the whole of Europe, if we are to be competitive with other cities worldwide we must continue to work for improvements in our legal, tax and financial frameworks and help adapt them to the circumstances that startups face.