A total of 120.000 people attended the Barcelona Games World conference in 2016.

Barcelona Games World 2016 recently ended as a success with over 120.000 visitors over four days. It was the first year the congress was held, and entertained its attendants with over 1000 gaming stations, 30 mini conferences and 371 interviews with prominent game developers.

But this is only one of several elements that makes Barcelona one of the most vibrant hubs for gaming startups in Europe.

Big players

Most technology hubs around the world has big players both stealing & contributing to the environment. In some ways you can say that the big players validate the ecosystem with their presence.

As London houses major fintech startups such as Transferwise, Mondo & Atom, Barcelona has several big gaming startups like King (Activision), Social Point (local), Digital Legends and Tutotoons which have raised millions of euros the last years and engages 100 of millions of people through mobile and desktop games every day.

There’s also been a long time presence from veterans such as Ubisoft, Gameloft and other heavy hitters.

There are also a community of many AR and VR startups and companies that can be beneficial for game developers looking to create games in this space. Not to talk about betting games startups such as Playfulbet with over 6 million users worldwide, that have a huge community of Esports enthusiasts.

Pol Ruiz, CEO and founder of Playfulbet attended the Barcelona Games World, and told me how the conference was one of the greatest gatherings of gaming industry ever taking place in Barcelona.

The city is playing along

But big companies and innovative startups are not enough in the long run, to foster a true hub for gaming startups in Barcelona you also need supporters: gamers.

Luckily, Barcelona is also home to thousands of gamers. Not only shown through the Barcelona Games World conference, but through the annual Esports event ESL Expo, that attracted over 5000 people last year.

ESL Expo Barcelona attracted thousands of people.

Also local authorities are playing along, as Barcelona Activa, the local government arm supporting startups in the region has been backing an accelerator called Game BCN, aiming at accelerating gaming startups. There are also several gaming startups with funding and loans from the government operating from the city.

But it’s not only the local government who’s playing along, also the technical universities offer education focused on game design and development, both and bachelor and master degrees.

One of the biggest events in Barcelona every year is the Mobile World Congress, with over 100.000 attendants from all over the world. The speakers for the MWC 2017 was released last week, and the top headliner was John Hanke CEO of Niantic Labs that created Pokémon GO.

There are few statistics about the gaming industry in Barcelona, but in Spain there are about 450 development studios, with about 5.000 employees, where 40% of the workers are in Catalonia, according to Asociación Española de Videojuegos.

According to the AEV there are around 110 game studios located in Catalunya, and the number is growing every year.

What to expect from the future?

So with all these gaming related companies and institutions, can we call Catalunya or Barcelona one of Europe’s growing gaming hubs?

I think it’s safe to say that if the community continues to grow like it does now, we’ll see a lot of great companies coming out of the city.

For now, it makes it easier for the existing startups and entrepreneurs to find a friendly community and support for their ideas.

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VCs come into action — Breakdown of Spanish investment activity of January 2018

January closes with €195.3 million investments in Spanish startups within 24 operations

  • The Spanish entrepreneurial ecosystem is maturing thanks to investment rounds of more than €10 millions.
  • Barcelona and Madrid continue leading the Spanish ecosystem.

This is the first in a series of posts in which we will do an analysis of the Spanish startup investment landscape. We will look at the overall funding numbers and trends in the country month by month and compare it with data of the previous year.

What are the Spanish investment activities like on a month to month basis? What deals and volumes are we talking about? At what stages are startups prone to search investment and which regions in Spain attract the most funding?

The year 2017 brought us plenty in terms of innovation and investment activity within the area of technological startups, although Spain has been driven by political problems. The developments we have seen in 2018 so far are picking up at just the same fast pace.

January has closed with €195.3 million investments in Spanish startups within 24 operations. Of these funding rounds, highlights are the round of Cabify, Hawkers and Redpoints :

  • Cabify: The ride-hailing app that competes against Uber, has raised €143.3 million ($160) Series E funding round from a mix of previous and new investors, including Rakuten Capital, TheVentureCity, Endeavor Catalyst, GAT Investments, Liil Ventures and WTI, as well as prominent local investors from Spain and Latin America.

When analyzing the structure of financing deals, the increase in venture capital activity in Jan-18 is noticeable in comparison with Jan-17.

#Deals and volume in the Spanish startup investment landscape in January

In terms of the number of deals closed, we have seen a slight downward trend in the country. With a broad participation of Venture Capital, there have been less deals but more capital invested in each transaction. The reason for such a boost is mostly the gigantic financing round of Cabify with participation of giants’ VCs like Rakuten Capital, TheVentureCity and others.

The entry of European, American and Japanese funds investing in Spanish startups are accounting for a large percentage of the growth of the investments in Spain. At the same time, this global investment rise is making the average value of the financial rounds soar up to more than 1.5 times that of the previous year (without taking account of Cabify’s investment, that would turn this factor to more than 6 times the previous year)

The differences between January-2017 and January 2018 in terms of the increase in venture capital activity is shown below:

Startup investment deals by size of round

As we expected to see, the number of operations closed by investment size tends to a larger number in larger deals. While the number of deals of €500k or less have decreased considerably, the number of larger deals have gone up notably. This might be understood as an increasing number of companies maturing and reaching later stages of funding.

To properly ensure the aforementioned, in the following figure we show the breakdown of the investment activity by year of foundation of the company:

Startup investment activity (Jan-18) by year of foundation

Our previous statement is reinforced by this figure. The large transactions take place on established companies. In general, the more years a startup survives, the more established it is. As we observed, in average, the startups that were previously founded are those who raised more funding. That makes sense because normally an older startup has a bigger team and unless it has reached breakeven, it will need more funds to survive.

Startup investment deals by Region

Regarding the breakdown of startup investments by region, Barcelona, Madrid and Valencia bolster their position in the top of Spanish regions:

  • Cataluña (mostly in Barcelona) stands with 9 deals closed and an investment of €19 millions
  • Madrid gathers 7 deals and an investment of €148 million (€143 million in Cabify)
  • Valencia up to 3 deals and €23 million (€20 million in Hawkers)

Operations January 2018: