Updated: Jun 24
- High living-standard is a deal-breaker.
Valencia, Spain's third biggest city, proves to be ideal for startup founders and other businesses ready to expand internationally. All 4 key factors are in place:
1. Access to tech and creative talent. 2. Ease and cost of doing business. 3. Access to capital. 4. Superior quality of life with all-year sunshine, stability and safety.
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MILESTONES FOR VALENCIA'S TECH AND INNOVATION ECOSYSTEM:
February 2022: Among the 17 events worldwide and only 4 events in Europe, the legendary, American accelerator YCombinator has chosen to visit Valencia and Lanzadera during its annual spring tour to find seedstage/earlystage tech startups.
September 2021: Nuria Oliver, PhD and her team got global recognition for developing a system using Artificial Intelligence that can suggest a few, specific, effective Covid-19 policies to deliver the lowest number of infections within budget limits, feature in WIRED: How Valencia crushed Covid with AI.
July 2021: Valencia based Igenomix, leader in reproductive genetic testing, a spinoff of IVI, the Valencia Institute of Infertility, is sold by EQT Group for €1.250 million.
June 2021: The Agritech company SEIPASA led by CEO Pedro Peleato, based in Valencia, received the Spanish National Innovation Award 2020.
May 2021: Founded in Valencia by Iker Marcaide in 2009, Fintech Flywire lists on Nasdaq as the very first made in Spain, tech company, valued at $3.39 billion.
April 2021: The Viva Technology list, including startups from 19 European countries, nominated Valencia-based Codigames as 1 of 6 potential unicorns from Spain.
February 2021: Based on life expectancy, the cost to be healthy, air pollution, obesity rates, safety and sunlight hours, Valencia is declared the healthiest city in the world.
December 2020: "Valencia, the great promise of innovation", declared by Francisco Polo, High Commissioner of Spain for an Entrepreneurial Nation, at his longer visit.
October 2020: In Q3, Valencia raised 29.43M€, continuing to grow its third place in Spain's startup ecosystem, after Madrid 148,01M€ and Barcelona 50,73M€.
September 2020: Valencia is one of the 6 remaining finalists for the iCapital title. The winner is announced on September 24 at the European Research and Innovation Days.
August 2020: The EU Commission announced Valencia as one of the 12 finalists to compete for the honor to be named European Capital of Innovation 2020.
July 2020: Programming light in an affordable and scalable way got iPronics named as a spinoff to watch worldwide by the journal Nature Research, out of 44 selected.
Feb 2020: According to the Spanish Research Institute, the Valencia startup hub is the fastest growing startup ecosystem in Spain, and with the most startups per capita.
Nov 2019: Numbers announced at the VLC Digital Summit: Employment generated by the now 900+ startups exceeds 4,500 people, an increase of 125% (from 2018).
Oct 2019: Streamloots, founded in Valencia, Startup Competition Winner of South Summit 2019, selected out of 100 nominated startups in 10 competing verticals.
Sep 2019: Named World Design Capital® (WDC) 2022 and chosen by Groupon as base for their global center for Operations.
Why choose Valencia over other Spanish startup hubs?
To find out the answer to the question "Why Valencia?", we asked Alberto Martínez Guerrero, CEO of Streamloots, the winner of the South Summit 2019 startup competition, who says:
"We started in Murcia and moved to San Francisco for a while to launch the product since most of our users are from the US. When we decided to grow the team in Spain we analyzed 3 cities: Madrid, Barcelona, and Valencia."
"We choose Valencia because of the standard of living is incredible, the weather is amazing, housing is not that expensive or hard to find and you can move everywhere by bike or by scooter."
"There is also a lot of talent in Valencia and it is an attractive place for people who are tired of living in super crowded cities like Madrid. But even though Valencia is an attractive place for national talent, it is still unknown for international talent. Let's change that!"
Valencia - A true gem for startup founders
With a population just under 1 million, Valencia has everything it needs to be a major metropolis, yet isn’t too overwhelming you can’t also easily make your mark. Even more attractive for founders, it offers a vast amount of talent, as well as an extensive support system for early-stage businesses that many other European cities lack.
1. National factory for Tech and Creative talent
Valencia is considered to be the national talent factory, thanks to eight reputable public and private universities, with more than 100,000 students and 3,500 certified engineers graduating every year.
Moreover, Valencia is ranked as the best Erasmus destination in Europe and has received the award as the best talent attraction program from the European Commission.
The city is also the birthplace of many creative undertakings so it probably was a so-called no-brainer for the World known Music College Berklee to choose Valencia to set up their European campus back in 2012.
In September of 2019, it was announced that Valencia is named World Design Capital® (WDC) 2022, and will be the 8th city to hold this designation.
"Valencia’s bid, articulated a compelling proposal that clearly demonstrates the effective application of Mediterranean design, of design for change and design as a key reference point to improve citizen’s quality of life.”
Said Luisa Bocchietto, WDO President and member of the WDC 2022 Selection Committee.
Later on in September 2019, the well-known American E-Commerce company Groupon announced that they had chosen Valencia as base for their new global operations center. The space can accommodate up to 200 employees which will allow the center to grow continuously in the future, the company adds.
Says Barbara Weisz, Senior Vice President and Director of Global Operations at Groupon:
"Groupon have chosen Valencia because of the incredible talent, the climate, the atmosphere and the culture, allowing us to offer our employees a high standard of living."
She also highlights Valencia's high number of multilingual professionals:
"The level of service we offer to our partners has to be excellent, which is why having native professionals in their languages to support their strategies, both commercial and editorial, is essential for us."
2. Public and private initiatives behind the blooming ecosystem
Both private and public companies join forces, coordinating their efforts to boost entrepreneurial support in the region. This city is eager; it wants to become a leader in both Innovation and Entrepreneurship.
New numbers announced at the VLC Digital Summit 2019: Employment generated by the now 900+ startups exceeds 4,500 people, an increase of 125% (2018.)
Some of the most prominent Business centers, accelerators, incubators, and early-stage investors include EIT Climate-KIC, Gohub/Global Omnium, Biohub VLC, Innsomnia, Angels Capital, Demium, Social Nest, Bbooster, Plug and Play, Lanzadera and Fosbury & Sons.
More and more of these meeting points for Entrepreneurs and Startup tech founders, national as well as international, are based in the Valencia Marina, a campus that is evolving at a high speed right now so make sure to watch that space!
What used to be an old and somewhat secluded harbor is converted into a 1million m² public space open and buzzing with innovation and nautical activity.
On the public side, the city council of Valencia launched VIT Emprende, a network of innovative entrepreneurs that has played a role in the startups registered in the city.
And numerous additional local and national institutions (ENISA, CDTI, IVACE and IVF) exist, offering grants and financing for technical and digital companies.
3. Ease and cost of living
Public transport is efficient at a low cost, and with the Manises International Airport only 20 minutes from the city center, and the capital city of Madrid only 1.5 hours with the speed train AVE, you’re also saving in opportunity costs.
The cost of accessing a co-working space is around 150€/month and an office space in one of the Technological Parks is about 350€ for 65m2.
4. Superior quality of life
It's easy to enjoy an active lifestyle, with activities such as sailing, golf, football and tennis available all-year round. There are bike paths throughout the city, and cyclists, joggers, walkers alike love The Jardín del Turia*, a lush urban park that snakes through the city like the river it used to be.
*NOTE: The locals still say. “Let’s go for a run or a walk in the river”.
Valencia has more than 300 days of sun annually. Add in its beautiful beaches, orange tree-lined streets, and gorgeous views of the mountains in the distance it’s no wonder almost 2 million unique tourists visit the city annually.
The cultural scene is also a draw featuring the famous City of Arts and Sciences, one of the 12 Treasures of Spain and designed by native-son and architect Santiago Calatrava, houses Spain’s largest event space and Europe’s largest Aquarium.
EDIT June 2020:
Because of the pandemic, with remote work being likely to prevail for a longer time period, it looks like "smaller big cities" like Valencia, can attract even more tech talent than before.
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