The Leaders visited the headquarters of Barcelona Activa, a local institution in charge of fostering an entrepreneurial ecosystem.
The City Promotion advisor to Barcelona City Council, Marc Sans, talked to the Leaders about Barcelona Activa, a local organisation devoted to boosting the city’s economic activity.
Created in 1986, it is the oldest institution in its class in Spain. Its mission, according to Marc Sans, is “fostering economic policies and local development to promote an increase in the citizens’ living standards.” This can be achieved “through the promotion of employment and entrepreneurship and by supporting businesses, taking the citizens’ needs into account.”
Barcelona Activa currently boasts a vast network of specialised facilities, including an incubator, an entrepreneurship centre, coworking centres, innovation centres, and technology park.
According to Marc Sants, Barcelona Activa has contributed to the city becoming “one of the top European cities in its number of startups.” Retail, tourism and hospitality were the most prominent sectors among the almost 2,400 entrepreneurs who used their services in 2018. The institution has also become a consultant to cities from all over the world seeking to implement similar initiatives.
Barcelona Activa also helps Barcelona companies who wish to learn strategies to access foreign markets and vice versa, providing a business landing service advising foreign companies that seek to invest in the city. “If we don’t do it ourselves, someone else will in some other city,” Sants pointed out.
As was the case during their meeting with Madrid City Council, the Leaders were very positive about the Council’s involvement in promoting entrepreneurship in the city. Barcelona Activa’s longevity can also be attributed to the positive image it has achieved among the city’s inhabitants. “There seems to be a consensus that Barcelona Activa is a key instrument to being at the forefront of entrepreneurship and business incubators.”
The Leaders were also appreciative of the range of free services provided by the institution, even to entrepreneurs who are not from Barcelona. “The main thing is that they want to start a business in Barcelona, which means they will pay taxes and create jobs,” Sants said.