Barcelona’s DNA: Start-ups


All through history, the Mediterranean area has attracted special interest from the Barcelona Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Navigation. From the days of the Sea Consulates right up to the present time, the Chamber has always been at the forefront in the development of initiatives aimed at building bridges and opportunities. In recent years, the Chamber has turned Barcelona into a platform  and landmark for business and economy along the Mediterranean: the sea of three continents, Asia, Africa and Europe.

The new trade routes between East and West will no longer be just for silks, but for ideas and knowledge. The cultural richness and diversity of the Mediterranean may be where this exchange of creativity and innovation occurs. And Barcelona, linked to Europe and pending Africa, could become the global location dedicated to finding solutions to meet the far-reaching and bespoke creative needs of international investors and companies.

Barcelona has become one of the main digital hubs in the Mediterranean region and Europe. It is already the main start-up hub in the region. In addition, Barcelona is the first Mediterranean and third most attractive European city for entrepreneurs to found a start-up and the world’s fifth most attractive for digital talent. This positions
Barcelona as a Mediterranean technology hub with a great potential for attracting talent and international investment in the digital field.

With its business-ready infrastructure and leadership position, Barcelona offers creators the opportunity to harness the untapped potential of the Mediterranean. There are human resources, youth, very talented women, distribution capacity at a Mediterranean and international level. Creativity is nourished by optimism, and Barcelona and the Mediterranean have this resource in abundance.

At the Mediterranean level, Barcelona is emerging as a leading platform for professionals seeking to connect with innovative companies, driven by the digital transformation of essential sectors, such as health, education, finance, commerce or entertainment, among others.

Barcelona could be the heart of Mediterranean creativity, a privileged destination for creatives. The city promotes brainstorming and production, in an environment of free thinking, with clusters and support networks, a city that wishes to promote a sustainable future based on knowledge, in creating an agile and motivated public-private synergy that promotes a dynamic, creative and innovative environment. In this Forum, distinguished Barcelona business leaders and economists will share their insights on how international companies could take advantage of Barcelona’s unique role to capture More Talent, startups and Digital Business opportunities.

17th November 2022

10:00 – 11:30

Key words

Investment hubs, trade, free economy, rule of law,
infraestructure system, talent pool, entrepreneurship, start-ups, digital revolution


Europe has no choice but to reduce its dependence on Russian oil and gas imports, and quickly. For this to happen, Europe must take a closer and fresh look at its neighbours to the South.

Energy security is a key concern. The EU should have alternatives to diversify its supply sources, as well as manage its political and economic risks and limit its dependence on Russian gas. Recent major natural gas discoveries in the Eastern Mediterranean give the EU the option it is seeking, but also pose new challenges for  governments and international players in the race to exploit the discovered wealth.

Europe and the Mediterranean region have the unique potential to transform and diversify our economy to a decarbonised future, based on resource protection, energy efficiency and renewable  energies.

The Eastern Mediterranean could become one of the main global gas supply areas.  Resources are estimated at 122 trillion cubic feet of gas, plus 1.7 million cubic meters of oil, located off the coasts of Syria, Lebanon, Cyprus, Israel, Egypt and Palestine.

The overall quantities can justify the enormous costs of a new gas pipeline from the Eastern Mediterranean to Italy and the rest of Europe. From the South there are already pipelines transporting gas from Algeria to the EU.

This is an opportunity for development and growth both for the producing countries and for the EU.

The region’s potential is considerable. In addition to oil and gas, it has a  hydroelectric power system, wind resources and solar radiation that are among the highest in the world, as well as large tracts of  desert. Technically, the region could be a major energy player and meet the needs of part of the planet.

But discoveries of gas fields are stirring the pot of regional turmoil. The absence of a maritime boundary demarcation law and the appetite of other players make for a volatile and highly complicated situation.

Key points for discussion:


  • How can we find the best economic and strategic solutions to optimise operations, mobilise the necessary resources and promote long-term viability?
  • How can the Mediterranean region and EU join forces if they want to take advantage of their resources? 
  • Are the public and private actors in the sector aware of the advantages of a shared vision that will develop energy cooperation between the two shores of the Mediterranean and promote the construction of a natural gas market in the region?


Achieving a sustainable food future requires meeting three competing needs simultaneously: 1. efficiently closing the food gap; 2. preserving natural resources and climate; while 3. improving the environmental and social impact of agribusiness, also for smallholders.

“Green” and sustainable outcomes are a growing priority. The implementation of green projects requires transfer of know-how and also specific financial instruments.

Employment of skilled-labour is key in the agribusiness sector but clients are slow to adopt technological innovation and operational performance is often impaired by low labour productivity.

Rising food export surpluses and import deficits result in increasing trade polarisation, which is likely to persist. While trade is an essential part of improving food security outcomes, rising deficits create vulnerability to future price volatility.

Growth in regional trade integration and market interconnections encourages the development of comparative advantages and boosts resilience. At the same time, cross-border logistics and transport would contribute to a higher environmental footprint, if uncompensated by efficiency and technology improvements.

Transforming the world’s agri-food systems, the way we produce, process, distribute and consume food has been identified as one of the key avenues to achieve many targets of the 2030 Agenda.

The private sector plays a central role in addressing these challenges; offering innovative tools,  resources, knowledge and technologies that are critical to achieve the second SDG through agri-food systems transformation; adopting more inclusive and resilient practices in their businesses; and  investing in more efficient and sustainable technologies.

Micro, small and medium-sized agri-food enterprises (MSMEs), including start-ups, can play a critical role in achieving food security and eradicating rural poverty, with special emphasis on digital agriculture and youth and women-led businesses.

The challenges for the Mediterranean agribusiness sector will be: to remain competitive, to enhance productivity, to develop effective supply chains, to find access to finance, to foster cross-border trade and improved connectivity, and to be well-governed, resilient, integrated, sustainable and inclusive, enabling women and youth entrepreneurship.

Salvador Illa

Ministry of Health, Government of Spain (Special Guest Speaker)

Enric Mayolas

Consulting Director, World Health Management (Moderator)

Gonzalo Fanjul

Policy Director, Institut Salut Global

Chakib Abouzaid

Secretary General, General Arab Insurance Federation

European Regional Development Fund              A way to make Europe