Given the growing emphasis on remote work, freelancing, and digital-first job positions, the allure of coworking spaces has become stronger than ever before. Individuals (or small teams) who don’t want to invest in office spaces and equipment can rely on coworking hubs to focus their resources more effectively. This is why it’s essential to know how to determine the success of coworking spaces.Continue reading “How to Determine the Success of Coworking Spaces”
COVID-19 has become more than a health crisis, it’s causing all kinds of problems among society as we’ve seen in the news and experienced ourselves. As a result, many startups have expressed their willingness to help, either by trying to find solutions or making their products and services available to everyone. At Itnig, we’ve come across amazing startup initiatives, no matter the size or type of company!Continue reading “Startup Initiatives During COVID-19 Crisis”
We found great tech, entrepreneurship, and marketing communities in Barcelona! If you’re looking for after-work activities, you should consider joining communities that share your interests. Being part of a community is part of Barcelona’s culture. You get to learn about different topics, meet new entrepreneurs and projects, and also discover places that you never knew about.
Business angels, who are they? No, they’re not mythical creatures as the name suggests. They’re real-life people that provide financing for startups with their own capital, in exchange for becoming partners of the company.Continue reading “Business Angels: Who are they, what they do and how to find them”
We thought of alternative plans for the MWC Week at Itnig since everything got canceled!
We put together a series of alternative events, workshops, and activities that same week. We think networking is the main reason to gather all the entrepreneurs and startup community under our roof.Continue reading “Alternative Plans For The MWC Week at Itnig”
There’s access to many venture builders, incubators, and accelerators in Barcelona. These programs are key for early-stage startups to reach their goals.Continue reading “Venture Builders, Incubators and Accelerators in Barcelona”
EU-Startups.com, one of Europe’s leading startup publications, just moved into the itnig co-working space
With the start of the new year we are opening up our 5th floor as a co-working space to welcome talented individuals and promising startups to join us! Earlier this month, Thomas and Pablo from EU-Startups have arrived and are joining us in a collaboration, sharing their insights and startup knowledge not just with us internally but with you through our blog as well.
EU-Startups.com is one of the leading startup blogs in Europe with up to date information on startups, in-depth analysis of different sectors and many interesting interviews focussing on specific aspects of business. Next to the online publication, Thomas and Pablo are organizing the yearly EU-Startups Summit — this year to be held on the 24th of April with 750 founders, startup enthusiasts, corporates, angel investors, VCs as well as media people from all across Europe.
Thomas and Pablo met at MY-WAY, a project by the European Union thought to foster startup creation among students and asking what the EU can do to support them. Pablo was then working in Brussels with the student organization AEGEE and joined EU-Startups at the beginning of this year, focussing on the organization of the EU-Startups Summit.
They found together through a common interest for Europe and entrepreneurship, and the with the goal to foster innovation cross-boarder, spanning all of our countries and facilitating access to different resources. Undecided about which city to move to, Thomas finally settled for Barcelona last year as he thought it might be an easy pitch to convince event attendees, and future contributors, to visit to sunny Catalunya.
“Berlin might have more capital, cheaper rents and more tech talent, but I see a bright future and high quality startups here in Barcelona”.
While talking about the business model of EU-Startups as a magazine, Thomas talked about everything but a magazine. A job board, premium reports, a startup sourcing service, sponsored posts by corporates, and the EU-Startups Summit they are organizing since 2014 is what brings EU-Startups revenues. Actually we could be speaking about several business models.
Thomas, how did you get started writing about startups?
I was always interested in tech and new business models, and in 2010 I felt there is a need for an online publication that covers startups from a European perspective. More and more cross-boarder funding deals were happening, cross-boarder expansion, acquisitions, etc. So I started EU-Startups.com. Today the site attracts over 80,000 founders, investors and startup enthusiasts each month.
What have you learned from reading countless press releases a day?
You don’t learn a lot from reading press releases. I think you learn much more from talking to founders, investors, corporates and by doing your own research. Press releases always just paint the picture that a startup wants you to see. The reality looks often a bit different.
How should I pitch my startup to be featured in EU-Startups.com?
First of all, you should have something newsworthy to announce. As long as you didn’t invent a time machine or a teleportation device, the fact that your startup exists is not news. I actually have a little presentation on how to increase your chances to get press coverage, which I presented in some events. If you’re interested to read it, send a short email to [email protected] and I’m happy to forward it to you.
When you hear the word Blockchain what is the first association that pops in your mind?
It’s a hot topic. A bit too hot in my opinion. I sometimes have the feeling that all tech startups these days are either doing something AI, chatbot, or blockchain related. I mean it’s an interesting concept, but there are not so many actual use cases for it yet. In theory, yes. But in reality, we’ll have to see which kind of impact the blockchain concept will actually have going forward.
The triangle between ocean front, the Ciutadela park and Diagonal street — the district of Poble Nou — is now synonymous of innovation, famous for its startups and incubators and specked with universities. How did the once industrial project transform into a technological model and what impact does this have on the social relationships? We move in this area every day, shape it through using its services, setting up our own companies and bringing international talent yet few are the times that we wonder about its history. Let’s take a look at Poblenou’s [email protected] and the transformation it has gone through.
If you are currently in Barcelona you can learn more about this topic in a visual way by visiting the photographic archives of the city until mid May (Archivo Fotográfico de Barcelona) to discover Darius Koehli’s view on the neighborhood and its transformation.
History of Poblenou
In the time of the Industrial Revolution in the early 19th century Poblenou was a place of industry with many factories dedicated to textile production and later with the settling of food and metallurgical industries. Between 1861 and the early 20th century the textile production continuously expanded and branched out to further specialize. Until 1939 the industries in Poblenou consolidated including the first car factories, which further grew in the coming two decades.
In the 1960s the industrial growth came to a halt and factories were relocated or dismantled. The abandonment of the Poblenou area and the general need to transform the city of Barcelona to stay relevant, led the government to introduce the first of many following restructuring plans.
With a move from an industrial to a more tertiary sector, Poblenou became more and more abandoned until the year 1992, which brought the Olympic Games. The 1992 Olympic Games initiated a process of metamorphosis in the city that turned it into a clear paradigm of urban change and international exposure where political will plays a determining role (Pareja-Eastaway, 2009). The Games also gained Barcelona a place on the map. With international recognition the city now called for further improvement of infrastructure and new developments: The Ronda de Dalt and the Ronda Litoral were built, the train lines were lead underground and the street grid started / envisioned by Cerdà (already in 1859!) was consolidated. Poble Nou was as such now placed in a new center, connected to the rest of Barcelona and embedded in the infrastructure.
In the following years a new model of cities within a city (poly-centric city) emerged. Today the Vila Olimpica, the area around Diagonal Mar and the Forum building tell the story of the construction for this sport event. Recently artists, young professionals and students — an especially young population rejuvenating the neighborhood — started moving into the old industrial plants and slowly converting the wide open spaces into lofts, shops and galleries. Nowadays you will also find architecture, art and design schools or studios in these spaces.
Urban planning for transformation
The transformation of the area began as a government initiative aimed to transform the historic but rundown industrial Poble Nou neighborhood into a technology and knowledge-driven economic powerhouse. In 2000 the new urban plan, soon known as [email protected] altered from the industrial zoning denominator 22a, came into effect. A mixed model of urban planning, both focussed on social cohesion and economic development divided the area up into five different centers: Information and Computer Technology (ICT), Bio-Medical, Design, Energy, and Media. These five clusters were defined with the aim of concentrating economic activity with growth potential. Through this the aim is to “facilitate collaboration, capture talent and develop a sustainable business ecosystem”.
The plan included:
- 4000 units of subsidized housing
- Creation of green areas
- Facilities for the productive fabric like the Media Tic building or the business incubator Almogàvers Business Factory
- Facilities for public life like schools or community centers
- Redevelopment of streets
The City Council put it all in motion by moving public companies and university to the district so as to support the clustering. Nowadays you can find the Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Universitat de Barcelona, Universitat Oberta de Catalunya, Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya and BAU of the Universitat de Vic all in close proximity. Through their joint work with the district office they offer collaborations with local companies like internship boards and a database of companies accessible for graduate students. Furthermore in the research cluster, the company Telefonica has set up their Research & Development facilities in the area and the big biomedical research park cannot be overlooked. The city of Barcelona also gave support to the social structure by promoting diverse collectives as it is the case for Hangar, La Escosesa and La Central del Circ — who are all privately managed organizations dedicated to the arts residing in municipally-owned buildings. Similarly Poblenou Urban District is a nonprofit association that aims to establish the neighborhood as entrepreneurial epicenter in Barcelona organizing activities and events like the Walk the Barrio open night.
in 2008 an additional support to businesses wanting to install themselves in the district was launched by the city: [email protected] PLUS. Similarly Barcelona Activa, the city’s local development agency — with its Do it in Barcelona program — also played a strong role in supporting and promoting entrepreneurship and business incubators. Even though the planning of redevelopment and transformation has been severely delayed by the 2008 financial crisis the changes are visible to the eye and notable for all businesses in the district. Since the introduction of the renovation plans, on average 545 new businesses have been set up in the area.
Technological hub today
We at itnig aren’t the only ones to love the area of Poblenou and to have set up shop here. Like us about 400 other startups have decided to move their offices here. Barcelona attracts young people for its climate, for comparably lower costs of living and for its location in close proximity to the sea, the mountain as well as other European cities. Actually, the foreign population from the EU-28 is over-represented in this area, as compared to the whole of Barcelona.
In the Poblenou area you will find big companies like Edreams, Skyscanner, VICE Media but also those that have grown up to be big like Typeform, with their now close to 200 employees in their beautifully designed Bac de Roda offices. Close to the long-standing Encants markets, the new Design hub with a dedicated museum, the art promotion agency FAD and library and other public facilities has been erected.
For our startups as well, our strategic position in [email protected] has been an important part of attracting international talent. Barcelona itself attracts a lot of foreigners and is a good argument to move and of top of that [email protected] makes an even stronger case. Even outside of the city, the three letters of the district are easily recognized and associated with entrepreneurship, research and technology.
Where to go and what to do here today?
BAU School of Design
Part of the University of Vic the BAU Center for Design the design school offers pioneering courses in all kinds of design disciplines as for you as a passer-by interesting student exhibitions.
La Escosesa is a resident for artists offering different work spaces, halls and promotional help on a self-managed basis. If you are working, living or just visiting the area La Escosesa is well worth a stop!
Last but not least you have our very own space, itnig. More than an office or co-working space we see ourselves as an open ecosystem with events dedicated to learning, an open podcast to share ideas and a space ready to accommodate fellow entrepreneurs.
Buildings that withstood the test of time
The technology may be new in Poblenou but the area itself has been inhabited and used for a long time. To get a feeling for the past and observe the changes this area has undergone stroll through the streets holding your head up high. In the perpendicular passages on the west of Rambla del Poblenou you will come across factories turned into beautiful lofts and you will get a glimpse of the towers and smokestacks of the old Can Gili Vell factory. Similarly the once chemical factory ‘Valls, Teixidor i Jordana’ and Can Ricart merit a stop on your way through the district.
Can Ricart, a former factory measuring about 4 blocks of Eixample and waiting for its revitalization and incorporation into the Universitat de Barcelona campus dedicated to lifelong learning. Close by in the Poblenou park you will also come across the history museum (Museu de historia de Barcelona — MUI IBA) http://ajuntament.barcelona.cat/museuhistoria/ca), which features many more such examples of the development of the area.
Coffee shops to soak in the new urban atmosphere
One of Barcelona’s biggests roasteries offers their doors to curious. With the intense scent of freshly ground coffee beans spilling out on the street you cannot resist .
Do you like plants and coffee equally? This is the place for you. After a small narrow entrance you will be surprised by the room opening up and the delicious cakes amidst this small urban jungle.
A coffee truck inside a big industrial hall and scattered chairs all around. Come here for a good coffee and an interesting place to contemplate or work.
A bit farther away from the main startup ongoings, on the southern end of Rambla del Poblenou you will find Republic Cafe with a cozy interior and a traditional terrace right on the Rambla itself.
Shopping & Strolling
For a more urban flair a stroll down Rambla del Poblenou is your first address. This avenue framed by trees winds down from Diagonal to the beach of Marbella and is a great point to soak in the more residential air of the neighborhood. Come here on a Saturday morning to buy fresh produce and artisanal products, have a coffee on one of the terraces observing people walking by or listening to one of the many street musicians, join the crowds of after work beer drinkers or venture out early in the morning like many of the local residents getting some exercise before heading to the office.
It’s a new year for the tech industry in Barcelona, and we have high expectations for the future of our founders and our startups, but we wanted to hear the opinion from two people having their finger on the pulse of the city’s tech industry every day.
Aleix Valls, director of Mobile World Capital and CEO of 4YFN is organizing the fourth edition of the city’s biggest startup event, 4 Years From Now, that this year will attract 20.000 people from all over the world:
The biggest change in 2017 will be how the big corporates starts to interact with the startup scene. We’ll definitely see it at 4YFN, but also in general.
The giant corporates has awakened, and they recognize that they move too slowly, and that there’s new faster companies out there that can compliment their business. This will change the game in the years to come.
The Champions League of tech hubs
Valls explains how he believe that the next 4–5 years Europe will establish several hubs for technology and innovation, each for their own sector or technology.
He tells itnig that the race to become a specialized tech hub in Europe has already started, and that Barcelona has positioned itself well for the e-commerce sector:
The next years will be the Champions League of becoming the main tech hubs on the continent. Because of this trend, I think we’ll see more and more local startups moving away from consumer facing products, and focus on B2B business models where they’ll get revenue in from day one.
Mackin says there has been many impressive B2B startups coming out of Barcelona the last year:
We’ve been needing the involvement of the corporate sector in Barcelona for a while, and hopefully it will attract more talent, and also raise salaries. To mention one of the startups bringing a lot of buzz to the B2B sector right now, I have to say Travelperk, aiming at changing corporate travel. I hope we see more of these companies, bringing in revenue from day one.
Desperately needs exits
As Valls compares Barcelona to other European startup hubs, one of the main needs he points to, is more exits.
Both London, and especially Berlin with Rocket Internet has these big tech companies both acquiring and exiting startups, and stimulates the whole tech ecosystem. We need that in Barcelona as well.
Valls also underlines that he thinks Barcelona needs more PR, not only to attract tourists, but to show the world how big and vibrant the tech ecosystem really is.
Mackin says that a lot of good things are happening in Barcelona right now, but there’s still a lot of unleashed potential:
We’re starting to build hubs, especially with Pier 01 with over 1.000 professionals gathered under the same roof. What we need now is more events, content and socializing to create an even stronger community
The biggest challenges
There’s tons of positive development in Spanish startup ecosystem, but there are also challenges.
Valls points to new tax regulations for business angels as something that could help attract more investment. Another thing is stock options, as you often can’t offer the best salaries in startups and stock options in the company is what keeps the talent in house for years:
In Spain you tax on stock options that hasn’t been cashed out yet, and that’s terrible for startups. A good idea could be to regulate stock options in technology startups differently than in regular businesses.
The 4YFN director also wants to see better VISA opportunities for entrepreneurs.
Editor Mackin, who is American, says he’s grateful for the entrepreneurial VISA that already exists in Spain, but says that it should be much easier to obtain, than it is today:
I think we need to learn from our European neighbors, France for instance has more incentives for startups and young companies than in Spain, and the same goes for other countries such as in the Nordics and in Germany.
As the last question of the podcast, the guys were to answer the question what Barcelona based startup they saw as most promising in 2017.
Valls looks to Typeform:
Through MWC we invest in many startups, but if I would say a company where I’m not biased, I would say Typeform is this kind of B2B company, that will do great things in 2017.
Mackin has his own favorite:
I would point to Kompyte, also a B2B company with a very impressive product. They’re growing fast, and now they’ve gotten into 500 Startups as well, so I think we’ll be hearing more from them in 2017.
If you missed our last podcast, take a look here:
This post and podcast was produced by @sindre hopland, media manager at itnig.
The term smart city has become quite popular the last years. The expression indicates an urban area that, thanks to the use of advanced technology, isable to deal with a wide range of the citizen problems and needs in an innovative way. The purpose is to improve radically the quality of life, opportunity, health, social and economic development of the city.
However, a smart city is more than a digital or technologically advanced place. According to a group of researchers of the Vienna University of Technologies, the essence of a smart city is defined by six parameters: Smart Economy, Smart Mobility, Smart Environment, Smart People, Smart Living and Smart Governance.
One of the main problems for all big cities, and that touch on several of the six “smart parameters” are the lack of parking lots. Often, the public car parks built by the authorities, are not able to comply with the real needs of a city, defacing the landscape, with insufficient functional results.
That’s why different ventures have been launched the last years to reduce traffic and pollution in cities and make public transportation cheaper. For example, booking a parking spot online, allows you to avoid unnecessary queues, which again causes less pollution.
Parking is a central point of a Smart City, because a smart city informs people about available staging points in real time and enables them to build the best accessibility path with buses, trams, bikes or scooters, pedestrian areas, car sharing, taxis.
And to make the parking experience both more seamless and smarter, it’s also vital to allow people to pay for the parking service through their connected devices.
Even though the government or local authorities are the biggest owner of parking spots in most cities, they lack the flexibility to make concrete choices, investments in technology (for example for geo-referencing all the road staging points and therefore the possibility of informing on availability), but also directing and integration capacities whenever they are needed. This needs to be handled by a private company to work properly.
That smart parking saves people a lot of time, instead of looking for a free parking spot, is alone extremely beneficial for society, making it much more efficient.
But if you’re not convinced by the arguments presented already, there are countless others showing how beneficial smart parking actually is for the cities of the future:
- In the long run it would be possible to offer incentives to motorists for parking in low-demand areas to reduce congestion in areas with a lot of activity.
- Set higher prices on blocks with low turnover and reduce prices in nearby areas with little or no parking activity.
- Increase parking pricing during peak hours of the day and reduce it during off-peak hours to encourage drivers to run errands within off-peak hours.
- Smart parking lets drivers reduce stress (according to a 2015 study)
“How parking has been changed through technology, is similar to how the travel sector was disrupted 15 years ago,” explains co-founder of Parkimeter Jordi Badal.
Our app allows users (local private, professionals and tourists) to find available parking spots, to choose (and pay for) the most convenient parking spot for them and determine the shortest route to get there. In other words, it’s a way to connect users with parking spaces and payment services thanks to modern mobile technology.
Climate changes, a fast growing urban population, limited energy and water resources, economic and technological changes are just some of the challenges cities have faced the last decades. Smarter parking solutions will not solve all these issues, but it’s an easy way to start, and a way all of us can contribute.
After all, the goal of smart cities are to address these challenges, big and small, and exploit the opportunities offered by these changes, and try to create new projects and services to improve quality of life, respecting the environment and future generations.