Barcelona: Emerging Semiconductor Hub of Europe 

Barcelona, renowned for its vibrant culture, stunning architecture, and Mediterranean charm, is fast becoming a player in the semiconductor sector. The region of Barcelona is incredibly research-intensive and with only 0.1% of the world’s population accounts for 1% of scientific production.

The city’s strategic initiatives, burgeoning tech ecosystem, and commitment to innovation are transforming it into a crucial hub for semiconductor research and development.

Barcelona is home to the Barcelona Supercomputing Centre which is currently building the fastest high-performance computer in the EU as well as two experimental quantum computers. It also is the headquarters of the Quantum Spain project. Additionally, we are also host to one of the top 3 photonics institutes in the world as well as ones on nanotechnology, high energy physics and a 3rd generation synchrotron.

The city is also home of the Institute of Microelectronics of Barcelona (IMB-CNM-CSIC). It is a well-positioned research center to be the best partner both for the development of new Micro and Nano Technologies, Components and Systems (which are considered Key Enabling Technologies -KET’s- by the European Commission) and also for the application of such technologies to the solution of the Societal Challenges that the European citizens are facing now.


The Importance of Semiconductors

Semiconductors are fundamental to technological advancement, acting as the backbone of integrated circuits or electronic chips. These essential crystalline materials, particularly silicon, possess unique electrical properties that enable precise control of tiny electrical currents. This capability is crucial across various industries, from data processing and communication to aerospace, mobility, energy, and health.

During our interview to José Antonio Garrido, Deputy Director of the Catalan Institute of Nanotechnology and Nanoscience (ICN2), he emphasized the strategic importance of semiconductors, which underpin technologies across various industries including AI, IoT, and high-performance computing. Garrido, also Chief Scientific Officer of Inbrain Neuroelectronics, highlighted the essential role of semiconductors in enabling advanced neural therapies.


The Innofab Project: Bridging the ‘Lab to Fab’ Gap

A significant challenge in the semiconductor field is the ‘lab to fab’ gap, where innovations struggle to transition from research laboratories to industrial production. To address this, the Innofab project aims to develop a pioneering clean room infrastructure.

The Innofab project has three strategic objectives:

  1. Firstly, to foster breakthroughs in the next generation of semiconductor technologies
  2. Secondly, to support small industries and R&D centres in transitioning from an R&D environment to a near-production setting
  3. Thirdly, to nurture talent and train the new generation of workers in this field


This initiative has been launched in collaboration with key semiconductor stakeholders in Barcelona’s R&D sector, including the Catalan Institute of Nanoscience and Nanotechnology (ICN2), Generalitat de Catalunya, the Institute of Microelectronics of Barcelona, ALBA Synchrotron, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, the Institute of Photonic Sciences in Barcelona and Barcelona & Partners. The Innofab project exemplifies Barcelona’s collaborative approach, involving key stakeholders both from the public and private sector.

This initiative will facilitate the development and scaling of semiconductor technologies in an industrially relevant environment, supporting small industries and R&D centers in their journey from research to near-production settings.


Catalonia’s Semiconductor and Chip Alliance

The Semiconductor and Chip Alliance of Catalonia, a public-private initiative, aims to consolidate the region’s semiconductor ecosystem. This alliance, already composed of 50 members, aims to collaborate on industrial policies to boost and strengthen the chip and semiconductor ecosystem in Catalonia. We are thrilled to be part of this initiative and make Catalonia a reference in the semiconductor industry.

The goal is to achieve a competitive, innovative and sustainable economy by promoting the growth and consolidation of the semiconductor, microelectronic, photonic and quantum ecosystem in Catalonia.


Recent Investments and Future Prospects

Catalonia has attracted substantial investments from global tech giants like Cisco, Intel, and Monolithic Power Systems, underscoring its potential as a semiconductor hub. The region is home to 260 entities in the semiconductor sector, generating 4,600 jobs and a combined turnover of €302 million impact. These investments highlight Catalonia’s role in the global semiconductor landscape, with recent projects set to enhance local capabilities and drive further growth.

Catalonia’s semiconductor sector is poised for significant growth, supported by a dynamic ecosystem of research institutions, industrial infrastructure, and strategic collaborations. With initiatives like the Innofab project and the Semiconductor and Chip Alliance, Barcelona is not only a leader in innovation but also a player in the semiconductor industry. 


At Barcelona & Partners, we aim to attract companies to invest in our city, solidifying Barcelona’s reputation as a global tech reference. Join us in shaping the future of semiconductors in Catalonia.