Spain’s startup ecosystem has two main hubs: Madrid and Barcelona.
Most observers place Barcelona first and Madrid second, but the gap appears to close every year. Barcelona has benefitted from attracting expats in search of sun, beach and lifestyle who tend to produce more internationally minded startups.
Madrid’s startups have predominantly been Spain or Latin America-focused, but have become increasingly international in nature. Although not part of this survey, we expect Valencia to join next year, as city authorities have been going all-out to attract entrepreneurs and investors.
The overall Spanish ecosystem is generally less mature than those in the U.K., France, Sweden and Germany, but it has been improving at a fast clip. More recently, entrepreneurs in Spain have moved away from emulating success in pursuit of innovative technologies.
Following the financial crisis, the Spanish government supported the creation of startups with the launch of FOND-ICO GLOBAL, a €1.5 billion fund-of-funds in 2017, which put €800 million into the market that year. Three years later, the fastest-moving sector is tech. In 2018, Spain counted 4,115 active startups, reported 150sec. Barcelona has seen a boom in startups and support systems, with companies based there raising €2.7 billion between 2015 and 2019, almost doubling Madrid’s figure (according to Dealroom).
In the first half of a two-part survey that asks 18 Spain-based startup investors about the trends they’re tracking, we reached out to the following VCs:
- Marta-Gaia Zanchi, managing partner, Nina Capital
- Marta Antunez, director, Wayra Barcelona
- Jaime Novoa, associate, K Fund
- Andy Areitio, partner, TheVentureCity
- Christophe Primault, partner, Elaia
- Luis Gutiérrez Roy, managing partner, Telegraph Hill Capital
- Santiago Reyna, founding partner, Keith Ventures
- Carlos Trenchs Sainz de la Maza, founding partner, Aldea Ventures
- Jordi Vinas, Nauta Capital
Marta-Gaia Zanchi, managing partner, Nina Capital
What trends are you most excited about investing in, generally?
Infrastructural needs of the healthcare industry.
Are there startups that you wish you would see in the industry but don’t? What are some overlooked opportunities right now?
We see opportunities in data liquidity, in silico trials, biotech manufacturing … for which enabling technologies may already exist from the information technology and semiconductor industry.
What are you looking for in your next investment, in general?
What we always do: Great unmet need, deep understanding of healthcare stakeholder ecosystem, the right technology solution, a team we love to work with.
Which areas are either oversaturated or would be too hard to compete in at this point for a new startup? What other types of products/services are you wary or concerned about?
How much are you focused on investing in your local ecosystem versus other startup hubs (or everywhere) in general? More than 50%? Less?
Local ecosystem: 10% Rest of the world: 90%.
Which industries in your city and region seem well-positioned to thrive, or not, long term? What are companies you are excited about (your portfolio or not), which founders?
We only invest in healthtech. So, the answer is: healthtech :)
How should investors in other cities think about the overall investment climate and opportunities in your city?
They all think we have a wonderful climate. After all, it’s Barcelona. Regarding the investment climate in particular, I believe too few international investors appreciate the full spectrum and significance of the opportunities that this city affords for starting and scaling a company.
Do you expect to see a surge in more founders coming from geographies outside major cities in the years to come, with startup hubs losing people due to the pandemic and lingering concerns, plus the attraction of remote work?
Not really. I think most companies will continue to have HQs in the major hubs, but their teams are going to be more distributed. And hubs that were traditionally at disadvantage over the usual suspects will find themselves less so.
Which industry segments that you invest in look weaker or more exposed to potential shifts in consumer and business behavior because of COVID-19? What are the opportunities startups may be able to tap into during these unprecedented times?
We are specialized healthtech investors. All our investments to date are B2B companies selling to healthcare organizations.
How has COVID-19 impacted your investment strategy? What are the biggest worries of the founders in your portfolio? What is your advice to startups in your portfolio right now?
We decided to increase our reserves, to have more capital to support our portfolio companies in follow-on rounds. For more, see here.
What is a moment that has given you hope in the last month or so? This can be professional, personal or a mix of the two.
My team is amazing. With them by my side, I never lost hope.
Any other thoughts you want to share with TechCrunch readers?
I know 2020 is a tragedy but … Isn’t it something to see everyone finally engaged in the conversations that matter (healthcare, science, public health, politics, equality, diversity).