Technological, biomedical and digital: this is how the emerging new Barcelona industry is perceived

The City Council has led the study "Barcelona in the Eyes of the World 2018" which aims to register the evolution of the city perception at a global level, through the opinions of more than 3,000 people between 18 and 65 years, plus the qualitative analysis of 240,000 Twitter conversations

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he emerging new industry in Barcelona is perceived around the world as a technological, biomedical and digital industry. Leaving aside the strength of commerce, tourism and the organization of events and congresses, the range of sectors linked to the city is being extended, with special emphasis on those related to new business models, technological innovation and biomedical research. With respect to 2011, there is a strengthening of the city as a business centre and innovation, an increase that also stands out among Barcelona residents, for whom the Mobile Wold Congress is a clear driver of this perception.

All these ideas can be found in the study “Barcelona in the Eyes of the World 2018“, carried out by the City Council to register the evolution of the perception of the city at a global level, through the opinions of more than 3,000 people between 18 and 65 years from Europe, North America, China and Japan who have travelled abroad in the last two years; people who visit Barcelona for professional reasons, residents of the city for more than a year, international journalists, foreign entrepreneurs, and experts in city branding; as well as the qualitative analysis of 240,000 online conversations on Twitter about cities like Barcelona, ​​Amsterdam, Singapore and Miami.



This report is part of the project to renew the city-brand story, promoted by the City Council of Barcelona and developed in collaboration with different economic, institutional and social actors in the city and the territory of Barcelona.

Its purpose is to know the evolution of meaning of the Barcelona brand since 2011, the year in which the first “Barcelona in the Eyes of the World” was developed; also to identify the differential features of Barcelona with respect to other cities with a similar position, such as Amsterdam, San Francisco or Tel Aviv; and, finally, to know if there are differences of opinion among visitors to the city before and after visiting. All this with the ultimate goal of strengthening the position of Barcelona in the world.


The main conclusions of the study “Barcelona in the Eyes of the World 2018”, which was carried out at the end of 2017 and the beginning of 2018, show that the city has a positive image around the world, as a coherent and transversal city, and with high overall appeal.

Those conclusions emphasize Barcelona’s welcoming character, being considered a place to invest in and do business, and also to establish and attract qualified talent. The name and image of Barcelona are internationally linked to creativity, especially, and for the first time it is also present in the technological, biomedical and digital sectors. It is recognized, in addition, by its strength in commerce, tourism and organization of events. As a negative aspect, the report notes that Barcelona is a city that faces the challenges of a large city, such as high prices and small crime, or the massification of tourism, and concludes that the city fulfils expectations among those who visit it, offers a vibrant experience to the visitors and keeps the residents proud of their city.

As for the main conclusions, 10 are highlighted:

  • Barcelona enjoys a positive image around the world
    Its gastronomy, architecture and emblematic monuments, such as the Sagrada Familia and the beach, make up the city’s imaginary, which is coherent and transversal throughout the world, and enjoys a high appeal overall, not only as a tourist destination. An imagination that is enriched by incorporating new meanings more related to Barcelona as a rich and interesting experience, which at the same time reduces the presence of stereotypes related to Spain, such as bullfighting or fiesta, among those who visit the city.
  • A city to live in and grow
    The attractiveness of Barcelona as a city to live in is very positive among international public and especially among business people, journalists and people who travel for business. Beyond the quality of life, associated with the climate and the city environment, values ​​such as being modern, open minded, cosmopolitan or cultural are added, and a greater perception of good personal and professional opportunities linked to the dynamism of the city, economic activity of the city and its area of ​​influence, Catalonia.
  • A good place to invest and do business
    Experts in city branding, journalists and foreign entrepreneurs highlight the solidity of the business pattern of the region, infrastructures, university centres and business schools, the improvement of the level of English and its dynamism, due to the growing presence of startups, innovation and research centres. Although improvements and incentives are demanded, they consider that Barcelona is a good place to settle down and attract qualified talent. This vision is confirmed among professionals who have visited the city during 2018 for business reasons or to attend fairs and events.
  • A city linked to creativity and design
    Barcelona is recognized for its leadership in creative and cultural industries among the general public around the world and is associated to brands with a strong component of lifestyle, talent and creativity. F. C. Barcelona, ​​Zara, Desigual, SEAT and Damm are the most mentioned globally and, in the social conversation, and references to design are dominant subjects.
  • Barcelona continues to offer a vibrant experience
    The perception of Barcelona is consolidated as a fun, friendly and lively city and is considered a vibrant place, where interesting things happen, getting ahead of cities like Amsterdam and San Francisco. The experience of those who have been in the city is qualified as good / excellent, exciting and happy.
  • Barcelona faces the challenges of a large city
    45% of respondents found nothing negative to highlight, and those who do so, mention high prices and small crime as main issues, which are common in cities and tourist destinations of reference, although massive tourism has become an emerging challenge of the city. Also, terrorism and references to the political independence movement are mentioned, without implying an impact on the image or altering the positive perception of the city.
  • Barcelona inhabitants, proud of their city
    The citizens of Barcelona value the city very positively in all dimensions and especially as a place to live. The mental map of Barcelona is very much in line with the imaginary identified throughout the world and emphasizes the modernity, the cosmopolitan lifestyle, cosy and socially committed.
  • The city for troubled urbanites
    The profile of the visitor who is most attracted to Barcelona is young, passionate about culture and biotechnology. He/she often travels, both for pleasure and for business.
  • Barcelona meets expectations
    It is a city that generates very positive feelings and emotions and those who visit Barcelona value it even more positively, significantly higher among business visitors in 2018.