Reasons why Barcelona is the ideal city to set up your startup with a Golden Visa

Barcelona, Spain’s major Mediterranean port and commercial center is the most active startup city in Spain with an ecosystem that has matured and is continuing to develop. Because of this, it has been ranked as #6 in the Top 100 Emerging Ecosytems by Startup Genome in 2020. With to the Golden Visa you can start a new business in the country

In 2018 Barcelona was ranked the 3rd preferred city in Europe to set up a startup by the European Union and the 7th city in Europe with more scaleups, that is startup technologies that have raised more than one million dollars in funding. This is because Barcelona has all the qualities of an ideal startup ecosystem – innovation, talent, universities and support organizations.


Innovation has characterized Barcelona throughout most of its existence as evidenced by its art and architecture. Barcelona has been ranked the 4th most innovative city in Europe by The Innovation Cities Index.

Universities and Talent

Barcelona is the only European city with two academic institutions (IESE and ESADE) among the top 10 business schools in the world according to The Financial Times.

Since the founding of the University of Barcelona in 1450, Barcelona has fostered an environment that promotes creativity and forward thinking. This has made Barcelona the 5th most attractive city for digital talent according in a report called Decoding Global Talent 2019 released by the Boston Consulting Group.

According to Mobile World Capital, Barcelona has the second highest number of professional developers among all European cities. Barcelona also has the capacity to attract R&D, ranking as the 7th urban area in the world with more investment received in 2019 according to Global Cities Investment Monitor.

Support Organizations

In support of Barcelona’s unique standing, the city actively encourages startup and entrepreneurial congresses, conferences and fairs and consequently has been ranked the 4th city in the world that organizes the greatest number of congresses and the 1st in the number of representatives that attend these fairs according to The Observatory.

These qualities have resulted in 1,300 startups in Barcelona in 2018, 21% of which have secured rounds of investment of over 1 million euros. The year before, the city raised about 722 million euros making it the 4th among European cities with the most startup funding.

Startups based in Barcelona have mainly focused on industry innovations (17%), life sciences (13%), mobile and software technologies (11%) according to Startup Heatmap Europe and have employed close to 14,000 people.

In an interview with startup founders in Europe, 20% would choose Barcelona, making this city the 3rd favorite startup hub in Europe.

Lastly, Barcelona is the 3rd best city to combine work and personal life in Europe and 8th in the world making it a city that offers a high standard of living.

Why choose the Golden Visa

If you are a businessman or entrepreneur looking to set up a startup in exchange for permanent residency through investment, then Barcelona is the perfect place and the Golden Visa the perfect vehicle to attain your goal.

You can begin by applying for the entrepreneur visa or startup visa, a newly created visa that will allow you to live in Spain during a two-year period provided that you have a startup project that is innovative and aligned with the industries particularly significant to Spain like green energy, the atmosphere, water and water treatment, health sciences, biotechnology, and aeronautics and aerospace, and can provide employment for Spaniards.

Once this visa has been granted and you have either started a business or made a capital investment in a startup, you may now apply for a Golden Visa which will grant the applicant permanent residency in five years. The entrepreneurial investment must be at least one million euros and can be any of the following types:

  • Opening a business or starting an entrepreneurial project that is aligned with the significant industries.
  • Highly qualified professional individuals who are experts or highly qualified in the significant industries
  • For those who engage in research or educational activities.

No matter the amount of investment, it must be maintained in Spain for a minimum of five years. After the five years period is over, the applicant will obtain permanent residency in Spain and after ten years can apply for Spanish citizenship.

The applicant’s goals of setting up a business or startup in Barcelona, of obtaining permanent residency, and if he so chooses Spanish citizenship will have been successfully met.