Sun, sea and start-ups: Valencia is one of Europe’s most exciting startup hubs

The Valencian region’s startup scene — based mainly in its capital plus the smaller cities of Alicante and Castellon — has been revving up in recent years and is now making its mark in everything from AI, fintech, and cybersecurity, to cleantech, health tech, and industrial IoT.

Valencia by the numbers

Data shows a tech hub on the rise. According to the Bankinter Foundation’s Startups Observatory, investment in Valencia-based startups grew from €58.5m in 2021 to €73m in 2022. Ecosystem tracking platform Dealroom reports that the Valencian region has the highest number of startups per capita in Spain.

Research by Startup Valencia found the number of registered startups in the region rose from 1,012 in 2021 to 1,212 in 2022; Dealroom, meanwhile, has an even higher estimate of over 1,500 startups.

A bottom-up ecosystem

La Terminal will become a new international tech hub for the Valèncian entrepreneurial ecosystem.

For Plug and Play’s Megias, the biggest difference between Valencia and other startup scenes is the former’s bottom-up ecosystem. Valencia is becoming a magnet for expats. The reasonable cost of living and the pleasant, manageable city are big attractions, but there are also more international jobs becoming available.

The international community is clearly growing.

 Bianca Dragomir, TNW Valencia advisor and CEO of Avaesen: “Valencia is a very dynamic ecosystem, very diverse, and there are many different industrial sectors that are emerging, and traditional sectors that are shifting towards a new paradigm of sustainability. And the beauty of it — every single stakeholder that comes from beyond Valencia says this — is that when you come here, you get connected immediately.”

From an outside observer’s view, one thing that needs to change is establishing English as a company language in scaleups, which would open up opportunities for international talent and investors. Zeleros, the Plug and Play Tech Center, and a few other organisations already do this. But in general, there is not a huge amount of English spoken here as a matter of course, and not all startups have an English version of their websites. 

Nonetheless, the ecosystem has a bright future ahead.

Accelerating growth

Although it is light on unicorns, Flywire, the global payments enabler, was the first Spanish startup to go public on the Nasdaq in 2021, and live-entertainment platform Fever, which became a unicorn last year. Valencia’s tech industry is in adolescence and faces challenges to scale to the next level and build bigger companies, but its ecosystem is bottom-up and efficient, with Lanzadera and the Marina de Empresas entrepreneurial hub playing a central role in boosting the industry.

Despite being smaller than Madrid, Valencia is experiencing faster growth… and still has room for more. Nacho Mas, the CEO of Startup Valencia, predicts that the Valencia community will become one of the top 10 tech hubs worldwide.

Conference ‘The Next Web’ is coming to Valencia in March 2023

For 16 years, TNW Conference has been at the centre of Amsterdam’s tech ecosystem. With over 10,000 annual attendees — including founders, investors, corporates, and governments — the event delivers not only unforgettable experiences but also real business outcomes by uncovering what’s next in tech, now.

TNW Valencia March 2023

Now, it’s time for Valencia. This vibrant city is Spain’s fastest-growing entrepreneurial ecosystem — and has the most startups per capita of anywhere in the country.

It’s rapidly becoming the Mediterranean’s startup powerhouse. And on March 30 & 31, TNW Valencia is bringing the heart of tech to the region.

The text was freely summarized from Credits for the photo of La Terminal to TNW.