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H&F creates partnership with Barcelona to connect tech hotspots

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Image captionImage 1: Leader of H&F Cllr Stephen Cowan virtually signing the agreement with Barcelona City Council

Hammersmith & Fulham Council and Barcelona City Council have announced a new partnership to boost their innovative tech districts.

This international agreement will make it easier for both councils to work together and build on their world-class innovation districts – the White City Innovation District and the 22@ District. Both areas are the home of many start-ups and scale-ups. This collaboration will also increase foreign investments, especially those in technology and in strategic sectors such as bio and health, and the jobs that are generated in both cities.

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Image caption: Image 2 : Aerial view of the White City Innovation District

This new alliance will also include partners such as Imperial College London, the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art (LAMDA), the Royal College of Art, as well as universities located in the city of Barcelona and the 22@ Network association.

At the virtual signing agreement, H&F Leader Cllr Stephen Cowan, said: “This agreement brings together two powerhouses of the 21st century economy.

“Our Industrial Strategy is based on partnerships and has already helped deliver over 6,000 new jobs in the tech, media and medical sectors. So, we are delighted to now extend such partnership to like-minded colleagues elsewhere in Europe with whom we have so much in common, including our shared focus in ensuring that all local residents will benefit from inclusive and sustainable economic growth.”

While Barcelona’s Deputy Mayor Jaume Collboni commented: “This agreement between two of the leading international innovation ecosystems such as 22@ and the White City Innovation District will allow us to generate new synergies to enhance the exchange and mobility of talent, technology and capital between two sister cities such as they are London and Barcelona.

“These elements are key to facilitating the diversification of our economies and making the transformation of the economic model we are working on a reality in 2030 and with which we hope to create 60,000 new jobs in 22@ alone.”

The collaboration agreement will hold events and workshops throughout the year, and the first, which will take place in May, will focus on digital inclusion. The activities will be designed according to the following points:

  • start-up incubation models
  • public-private partnerships
  • tools to attract innovative start-ups
  • innovation districts and
  • digital inclusion.

Barcelona’s 22@ district, which was conceived 20 years ago, has become a hub where innovation and technology initiatives come together, bringing together training centres and companies. The city is currently working to build new, similar models in other districts of the city through its Barcelona Green Deal roadmap, which in the future will be able to have, for example, a sports and technology hub in Montjuïc or an Industry 4.0 hub in the Zona Franca.

Hammersmith & Fulham has the White City Innovation District, which, in co-operation with Imperial College London, has helped create an entrepreneurial hub along with a unique industrial strategy.

One of the goals, which will be worked on in collaboration with Barcelona Activa and the City Promotion area, will be to connect 22@ and the White City Innovation District on an international scale with other innovation districts and economic clusters.

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Image caption: Image 3: Barcelona City Council virtual agreement signing

More investment and growth

According to the international positioning rankings, Barcelona and London are ranked in the top 10 for global competitiveness, technological cities of the future, attractive cities for entrepreneurs, foreign investment projects, sustainability, scientific production, reception of foreign investment in technology systems and business schools.

London leads the way in a number of these rankings, as subscribed to the latest Barcelona Observatory, while Barcelona is also one of the cities in the European Union with the most rounds of funding in the last year.

Already this year, H&F-based businesses have continued to generate new jobs and substantial new investment including:

  • Causa Lens - a Software-as-a-Service company, which raised £33.6m for the purpose of creating jobs in their H&F head office
  • Fourth Rev – an Edtech company raised £5.98m for job creation and research and development and
  • Zapp - an online delivery service raised £149m to expand their business internationally.

In the case of Barcelona, it closed in 2021 with success stories such as:

  • the fintech Belvo has raised €43M to grow LATAM
  • Rokafuradada has raised €3.2M of European funding
  • Swipcar – was acquired by the British company Cazoo for €30M.

Professor Mary Ryan, Interim Vice-Provost (Research and Enterprise), at Imperial College London said: “The new partnership between Hammersmith & Fulham and Barcelona and 22@ is an exciting development for our White City Innovation District. Imperial looks forward to inspiring, and being inspired by, our entrepreneurial colleagues in Barcelona.

Regius Professor Chris Toumazou, co-founder and CEO, DnaNudge, said: “This collaboration between White City Innovation District and 22@ Barcelona partners two world-class growth clusters in London and Barcelona, offering significant opportunities for global business development, talent recruitment and knowledge exchange. This initiative brings together two great city innovation hubs, and we’re very excited by the potential for DnaNudge as we continue our expansion into international markets.”

Richard Broyd, Advisory Director at Blenheim Chalcot, Britain’s leading venture builder, said: “Most technology-based ventures have aspirations beyond their home market so this new collaboration provides an excellent opportunity to engage more with others in a leading European city. For example, businesses and entrepreneurs can now look to benefit more from the relative strengths of each location by sharing knowledge and skills, managing operations, pursuing innovation, discovering new markets. The creation of an environment to enable this kind of exchange is a natural next step for the industrial strategies of both H&F and Barcelona.”

And Laura Towart, Founder and CEO at Vivan Therapeutics, said: “For a startup like Vivan Therapeutics that has developed a personalised cancer therapeutics platform and is planning to scale substantially in the next year, this MOU opens the door to opportunities with other innovators, investors and potential patients in Barcelona.”

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