Barcelona 22@ is one of the world’s leading projects in urban regeneration and the creative knowledge economy. Its creation has been part of a deliberate and city-wide strategy to invest in the city, and the region’s capabilities for innovation and unlocking investment and jobs from new digital economy investments.
Its aim is to convert Poblenou into “the city’s technological and innovation district, as well as to increase leisure and residential spaces”.
An estimated 4,500 new companies have moved to the district since 2000, an average of 545 per year and nearly half are start-ups. The remainder have moved from other locations. Over a quarter of companies in 22@ are knowledge-intensive and three out of ten companies created after 2000 are knowledge or technology-intensive. The estimated number of workers in the district is 90,000 (not counting freelance workers), 62.5% more than in 2000 for a total increase of 56,200 workers. Additionally, the global business turnover totals some €8,900 million per year.
A paper coauthored by 22@ CEO Josep Miquel Pique came to this powerful conclusion about the sustained impact of an initiative like 22@, which stresses that success comes not just from the clustering of knowledge economy enterprises but also from a focus on placemanagement and governance.
“The cities and regions that try to win position through their competitiveness by means of the attraction and development of concentrations of creative and knowledge activities, as Barcelona has done, benefit from the creation and promotion of clusters. These concentrations cannot survive, however, without including aspects related to their path dependence and becoming rooted to the territory and to the actors and institutions that characterise it.”
Barcelona 22@ also points the way towards what the Brookings Institute has described as ‘innovation districts’ in which innovation is not being created in ex-urban business or university incubators but in higher density mixed use districts in which key human capital live, work and play, benefiting from the agglomeration and spill-over effects which are at the core of the modern knowledge economy. Good precinct planning and enterprise development come together with technology infrastructure in such districts.
“The 22@ is an international exemplar of embedded governance for developing innovation and creativity.”