27 Sep 2022

District 22@ – Barcelona’s booming innovation hub

Published in Barcelona, Real estate, Barcelona Property Investments, Buy a house in Barcelona

District 22@ is Barcelona's youngest neighbourhood – but in the first six months of 2022 received 96% of all property investment funding across Barcelona.

What do Manchester and Silicon Valley have in common?

They’ve both been nicknames for the District 22@ innovation hub in Barcelona – first known as the ‘Manchester of Catalunya’ during the industrial revolution, and today known as the ‘Silicon Valley’ of Spain.

If you’re looking to buy property in Barcelona, relocate to Barcelona, start a business in Barcelona or even just visit, you need to know about District 22@.

That’s because the ‘Silicon Valley’ nickname is close to the truth.

In the first six months of 2022, Barcelona broke records to receive €2 billion in property investments. District 22@ was responsible for 96% of that investment.

The following companies have (or have had) major offices in 22@:

  • Meta (formerly Facebook)
  • Amazon
  • Microsoft
  • Orange
  • GSK
  • HP
  • Mediapro
  • Thoughtworks Spain
  • Adevinta
  • Aenor
  • Cisco Systems
  • T-Systems
  • Yahoo!
  • I+D
  • Sanofi-Aventis
  • Groupalia
  • Capgemini
  • Schneider Electric
  • SAP
  • NTT Data
  • Indra

Below, we’ll guide you through District 22@.

The Torre Glòries marks the entrance to Barcelona's 22@ tech hub – it's also home to tenants like Meta.

Poblenou – from Manchester to Silicon Valley

In the 19th century, El Poblenou transformed from an area of marshland to the north of Barcelona into the centre of Spain’s industrial revolution.

Manufacturing tycoons from as far as Cuba, as well as job-seeking southerners from Andalucia, built the forefront of the 19th century mass-production of oils, wines, textiles, metals and machinery.

But by the 1950s and 1960s, El Poblenou grew abandoned.

It was only the 1992 Barcelona Olympics – which built an Olympic Port and the Olympic Village in El Poblenou – when things started to turn around.

In 2000, Barcelona’s town hall approved a plan to regenerate 200 hectares of disused industrial land in El Poblenou and create a new tech and innovation hub. This hub, called District 22@, has become one of Europe’s biggest urban regeneration schemes.

By 2015, a total of 8,223 companies had moved in and brought along 93,000 new workers.

A total of 37km of streets have been urbanised, with 46 new electricity conductors, new sewers, waste collection facilities, district heating and cooling and 47km of dark fibre optics. By 2015, this saw the population of 22@ grow 22.8%.

In December 2021, it emerged that Barcelona had received more property investment (€3 billion) than Madrid for the first time since 2013 – the lion’s share of investment went to District 22@.

The 22@ tech hub has become a benchmark inspiring similar projects in Rio de Janeiro, Boston, Istanbul and Cape Town.

Abandoned factory next to new commercial building in District 22@

What’s the future of District 22@?

The next step for District 22@ is to finish creating 4 million m2 of floor space with 80% destined for offices and the remainder for housing – including social housing.

In 2022, Barcelona created a partnership with Hammersmith & Fulham in London to help generate 60,000 new jobs in 22@. Both are areas of urban regeneration, and the drive for new office space will be built upon concepts of ‘inclusivity’ and ‘sustainability’.

The 22@ Network BCN group also wishes to make 22@ get an ‘A-B’ energy performance score for efficient buildings.

Other projects include the Scrap Store 22@ which promotes a circular economy, the 22@ Start Awards for the best start-ups in the neighbourhood, as well as a range of initiatives which promote the environment, corporate social responsibility, urban planning, women in work and urban mobility.

The property investment giant Patrizia was behind the largest investment into Barcelona in 2022, buying up two student residence complexes in District 22@. These two newest additions make up five Patrizia assets in 22@, including a near-zero energy building (Entegra).

Paul Hampton, Head of International Fund Management at Patrizia, said:

“Thorough research endorsed the view that 22@ was everything our investors would want to be part of.”

“What caught our eye was not just the economics and demographics – that people want to live there and that the universities are expanding – it was also that 22@ is increasingly regarded as a ‘smart city.’ We wanted to be part of that as Barcelona moves to the next level.”

According to El Pais, the District 22@ won €3.5 billion in property investments into offices between 2015 and 2022. This was 86% of all the capital flowing into properties in all of Barcelona.

Alongside new-build property developments, it’s clear that 22@ has a bright future.

More Information

Lasose Properties & Investments is a leading real estate agency offering exclusive listings of properties for sale in Barcelona. We are experts in individual and corporate Barcelona relocations and offer tailored advice if you’re looking to invest in Barcelona property.

See our current properties for sale in District 22@ and in El Poblenou below.

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