News Title

Catalonia has become one of the main digital hubs in Europe. With an ICT sector with more than 16,500 companies and 130,000 employees, it is already the main start-up hub in southern Europe.

In addition, Barcelona is the third most attractive European city for entrepreneurs to found a start-up and the world’s fifth most attractive for digital talent. This positions Catalonia as a European technology hub with a fantastic potential for attracting talent and foreign investment in the digital field.

Opportunities NewSpace Will Bring to the Region

“Within the Government's digital strategy to make Catalonia a world-leading digital nation, we have launched country-specific strategies in disruptive technologies such as 5G, Blockchain, artificial intelligence, and NewSpace,” shares Daniel Marco, Director General of Innovation and Digital Economy at the Government of Catalonia.

The strategy’s goal is to harness the potential of these technologies and make Catalonia a hub for innovation, talent, investments, and innovative.

The promotion of NewSpace is a priority for the Government of Catalonia. It aims to support the deployment of this new space economy in order to make Catalonia a pole of innovation and leadership, attracting talent and companies in the field of this growing sector.

“Catalonia has the capacities and necessary potential to position itself in this emerging sector. We have the talent, successful experiences, and the technological fabric, which, duly aligned and with proper support, can make the most of the existing synergies in Earth Observation, mobile communications, and IoT to become a global benchmark,” says Dani Marco.

Moreover, Financial Times regards Catalonia as a region with great potential for technological investment. Thus, it could become a pole of attraction for international investments related to this NewSpace economy.

Finally, various missions have already been launched in Catalonia, and more specifically – in the public research and innovation sector. Their aim is to validate the technology and new applications developed in the region. For that reason, the Government of Catalonia is behind the drafting and launching of the NewSpace Strategy for Catalonia.

Main Players in the Local Ecosystem

Catalonia has:

  • excellent capabilities when it comes to research and innovation in the NewSpace field;
  • experience in launching missions, designing payloads, and launching an earth station;
  • comprehensive knowledge in the telecommunications field with several research centres with a solid reputation;
  • capacity and experience that are an outstanding source of spin-offs and emerging companies.

The NewSpace Strategy for Catalonia identifies all the Catalan institutions that have developed the NewSpace or are linked to it. This demonstrates the vast potential that Catalonia has in this sector.

Apart from the companies, working groups, and research teams that have worked and continue to work in what the region calls “Traditional Space”, today, the NewSpace knowledge and R&D ecosystem is based on the following main players:

  • Institute of Space Studies of Catalonia (IEEC);
  • i2CAT Foundation, Internet and -Digital Innovation in Catalonia (i2CAT);
  • Institut Cartogràfic I Geològic de Catalunya (ICGC);
  • The Technical University of Catalonia (UPC) and the UPC NanoSat Lab in particular;
  • Catalonia Telecommunications Technology Centre (CTTC).

“We also have the universities and business schools that offer their students and recent graduates the services, activities, and workspaces to develop innovative projects and new business ideas. For example – the Emprén UPC programme at the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya,” proudly says Daniel Marco.

Finally, the region has private organisations, such as Barcelona Tech City or The Collider Program of Mobile World Capital Barcelona, that work to create connections and make start-ups visible, catalyse innovation within corporations, attract investments, and promote talent in order to empower the ecosystem.

The Go-To Accelerators, Incubators, and VCs in the Region

In the space field, the ESA Technology Transfer and Business Incubation Office started its business incubation centres (ESA BICs) in 2003. The aim of inspiring and working with entrepreneurs to turn their business ideas into commercial projects – in which some element of knowledge or technological transfer generated by ESA were applied – led ESA to provide ESA BICs with financial and start-up support.

ESA BIC Barcelona began in 2014. The goal of the project was to reach 40 projects incubated in the period 2014-2019. The incubator was located in the Parc Mediterrani de la Tecnologia, situated in Castelldefels – Barcelona Metropolitan.

This location is a pole of relevant knowledge in the aeronautical field thanks to the presence of the School of Telecommunications and Aerospace Engineering of Castelldefels. The school linked companies to research staff in the field and provided them access to the talented teams of Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya.

  • The projects were incubated for 2 years and then became part of the alumni network.
  • Entrepreneurs and companies up to 5 years old could apply to be part of the incubation programme.
  • Incubated companies could request an incentive of up to €50,000 to cover product or service development and/or intellectual property protection costs. ESA provided 50% of this incentive. The other 50% were provided by local programme partners.
  • Among other services offered, the incubated companies could receive technical advice (up to 80 hours) from the UPC – and ESA if necessary – and business strategy from Barcelona Activa (technical office of the acceleration programme).

Now, having an acceleration programme in the space sector linked to the NewSpace strategy that the Government of Catalonia is promoting and developing, is a strategic priority for the region.

“In June 2021, we applied to give continuity to the ESA-BIC Barcelona initiative, led by the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya, in consortium with the Government of Catalonia and the Parc Mediterrani de la Tecnologia,” explains Daniel Marco.

Role of the Region of Catalonia

The Catalan Government already provides support thanks to accelerator and incubator programmes (like ESA BIC Barcelona and Tech Tour Space). In addition to that, the NewSpace Strategy for Catalonia will promote various actions favoured by corporate or financial investment, especially in technology-based companies and in research and innovation groups or centres.

Another priority for the region will be establishing tax incentives or loans with favourable conditions – for example, those linked to programmes related to the European Investment Bank and the Investment Plan for Europe.

Likewise, following on from other experiences in the region, the Strategy will promote the organisation of investment forums or The Investment Readiness Series within the framework of the Barcelona & Catalonia Start-up Hub. This will also include the aforementioned congresses or others linked to NewSpace sector applications, such as the NSE Expoforum or the Global Space Congress.

“We will also promote the incorporation of new investors in the system, using specific actions to attract them, as well as training initiatives geared towards building a network of national and international investors interested in knowledge generated in Catalonia in the NewSpace environment,” explains Daniel Marco.

Goals of the NewSpace Strategy

The Government of Catalonia wants to boost all the related capacities of the Catalan ecosystem, both public and private, as well as cooperation, innovation and internationalisation. This will help Catalonia become a benchmark in Southern Europe and a top-rank player in the global environment.

The NewSpace Strategy will roll out an action programme to regroup, consolidate, and relaunch the NewSpace ecosystem in Catalonia. It will establish itself as one of the main drivers of knowledge generation and the application of advanced solutions and technologies in the sector. All these will be geared towards fostering economic growth, enhancing the management of the region, and improving people’s lives.

The specific goals associated with rolling out this Strategy are to:

  • Drive and generate a competitive ecosystem in the Catalan sphere.
  • Stimulate research, innovation, and convergence with ICTs in relation to NewSpace.
  • Increase the availability of new services and new technologies.
  • Develop new business models in the NewSpace sector.
  • Create, retain, and attract talent, specialising in New-Space-associated technologies.
  • Create, maintain, and govern an open repository of satellite data and facilitate access to it.
  • Provide the Catalan administration with new services and applications, so it can manage the territory better.
  • Explain to the public the positive impact of using data generated by NewSpace.

The Tech Tour Events

As part of the Catalan NewSpace Strategy, the Government of Catalonia is hosting Tech Tour Space 2021, an investment programme organised by Tech Tour, in collaboration with European acceleration and incubation programmes and local partners.

Tech Tour Space is fully aligned with our objectives helping us to boost the investment readiness of start-ups and building their relations with investors. The programme also gives start-ups visibility at an international level, and the possibility of networking with other participants,” explains Dani Marco.

The space sector is global, so a Europe-wide programme like this one is necessary to achieve this goal.

How the Best Presenting Company Can Win a Prize at Tech Tour Space?

“The Catalonia Prize awards the company deemed to potentially contribute the most to the development of the Catalan space industry. As mentioned before, the space sector is global. The Government of Catalonia wants to create, retain, and attract the best talent to boost and grow our ecosystem,” concludes Daniel Marco.

The winner will be assigned a personal assistant to guide their deployment in Catalonia, improve their marketplace positioning, and facilitate their access to private and public funding, as well as to infrastructures and know-how of the Catalonian ecosystem. In addition, the winner will be awarded a €20,000 credit, which they can spend on different services, as well as on a booth in the Catalan Pavilion of the Government of Catalonia at the Mobile World Congress Barcelona 2022.