Barcelona to promote more than 100 science and technology startups along with the main universities

The Deep Tech Node is a joint initiative of Barcelona City Council, through Barcelona Activa, and UB, UAB, UPC, UPF and UOC, to provide more resources to startups involved in engineering, science and technological innovation working to solve major future challenges. The initiative is endowed with a budget of 840,000 euros.

Barcelona Deep Tech Node is a new initiative of the city designed to speed up market access for so-called deep tech startups that have emerged from a scientific discovery or a disruptive technological innovation that require more time and further investments to be able to market their products. It is a joint strategy between Barcelona City Council, with Barcelona Activa and its years of experience supporting startups, and the University of Barcelona (UB), the Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB), the Polytechnic University of Catalonia (UPC), Pompeu Fabra University (UPF) and the Open University of Catalonia (UOC) that seeks to position Barcelona as a European benchmark in this field.

The alliance will have an impact on more than 100 startups, between 2021 and 2023, with a budget for the entire period of 840,000 euros, of which Barcelona Activa is contributing 470,000 euros, the universities 300,000, and the remaining 70,000 will be borne by different sponsors. It will reach multiple sectors such as health, energy, and business services with the aim of promoting the creation of new scienceand technology-based companies, with the participation by the universities being a key factor, since a great many of these companies emerge from the world of the university and research.

Deep tech technologies include: IoT and sensors, biotechnology, AI and data, Blockchain, robotics, advanced materials and nanotechnology and quantum computing.

The first deputy mayor for Economy, Labour, Competitiveness and Finance, Jaume Collboni , stated that "through this initiative we continue to back an economy and startups that are more geared towards knowledge and science, that generate added value economic activity, attracting talent and driving the arrival of new investments to Barcelona. But above all, we are doing so to continue creating quality jobs that lead to more opportunities for the future for young people and for our students. In addition, we are doing so with the help of our excellent university system, one of the great assets that the city has to be competitive and innovative, and also to strengthen our international position".

"It’s an alliance that seeks to position Barcelona as a benchmark in the field of technology-based entrepreneurship. And it is doing so with a win-win strategy: strengthening ties and joining forces between the agents linked to entrepreneurship to improve the city’s position"

Meanwhile, Oriol Amat , UPF rector, stated that "it is an alliance that seeks to position Barcelona as a benchmark in the field of technology-based entrepreneurship. And it is doing so with a win-win strategy: strengthening ties and joining forces between the agents linked to entrepreneurship to improve the city’s position. It will also feed back to the universities themselves, for example, by increasing our ability to attract talent and improving the transfer of knowledge to society".

Among the reasons that justify the commitment to promoting the deep tech ecosystem is the creation of spinoffs (startups emerging from universities and research centres) as one of the best mechanisms to turn science into economic activity with skilled jobs. In addition, its influence will have an impact on the retention and concentration of talent, and the attraction of foreign investment. According to data collected by the Startup Heat Map Europe (2021), Barcelona is entrepreneurs’ third favourite European pole. Biocat, in a 2020 report, pointed out that in 2014 there were 6 international investors operating in the Barcelona ecosystem. There are currently more than 70.

Design of the initiative to strengthen the role of science in the city

Science is already cutting-edge in Barcelona and Catalonia, and the aim is to strengthen it through the Barcelona Deep Tech Node. The initiative will be structured around four pillars, thus responding to the main challenges facing a deep tech startup: funding, market fit, talent attraction, and international promotion. Within these axes, a total of eight specific support actions will be carried out.

In relation to funding, there will be investment forums to help harness private funding. Emphasis will be placed on identifying both local and international agents in the investment community specializing in deep tech areas. It should be noted that this service has already been set in motion and that last October saw the first edition of the Seed Deep Tech Barcelona Investment Forum, promoted together with Esade BAN. A total of seven deep tech startups with technologies related to artificial intelligence, big data, nanotechnology and computer vision, among others, presented the investment community with their solutions applied to the energy, nutrition, industry, audiovisual and agri-food sectors.

Furthermore, during 2022, a service will come into operation to search for and process public financial instruments, where a group of experts will identify and process calls targeting technology startups, such as the CDTI’s NEOTEC programme, ACCIÓ’s Startup Capital, and the European Commission’s EIC Accelerator, among others. This service will be carried out from the Barcelona Activa Business Support Office.

50,000 euros for each proof of concept

Among the actions linked to the market, it is planned to carry out two. On the one hand, proofs of concept will be funded to reduce uncertainty about the technical and commercial feasibility of the developing technology and bring it closer to the market and its commercialization. Priority will be given to proposals by research groups that have previously aroused the interest of a potential investment agent or client. The financial incentive will be 50,000 euros per project. On the other hand, technological solutions will be brought closer to medium and large companies, providing startups with easier access to potential customers. This service, called the , will target medium and large companies with the capacity to generate joint projects with startups -either by developing pilots, incorporating them as partners or contracting their servicesand startups with a product or service available on the market.

Regarding tools for attracting talent, a mentoring service (Mentor in Residence) will be launched whereby an expert will advise the startup for a period of 6 months. The figure of the mentor is designed to complement the CEO or to act in case the project does not have one. Their role will include defining company strategy, drawing up a development plan, a business and a financial plan, or seeking funding. In addition, a symposium will be organized to bring together profiles linked to the area of business development and sales who are actively looking to work with startups who are looking to expand their teams in this area.

The strategy also includes promotional actions. On 9 November, the Barcelona Deep Tech Summit will be held, a meeting between the entrepreneurial, investment, scientific and business communities that will take place within the framework of the BIZBarcelona Fair. During the event, the best startup in the deep tech field will be chosen by the international benchmark body, Hello Tomorrow. In addition, with the aim of facilitating the international dissemination of these startups, the Barcelona Deep Tech Community will be set up to showcase all the scientific and technological startups and spinoffs.

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