Barcelona’s Innovation District: 22@

Urban innovation districts have become an international phenomenon. Locally anchored, but globally inspired, we see them emerge in big cities all over the world. This month, we take a look at the experiences from 22@ Barcelona; an innovation district that has managed to successfully transform a run-down industrial area into a thriving hub for knowledge, growth, and innovation.

22@ is located in the area called Poblenou close to the city center of Barcelona. Around year 2000, the government agreed on a long-term strategy to revitalize the area. Running parallel to political decisions and urban renewal projects, networks both within and across sectors started to emerge connecting the different actors within the city district.

The cross-sectorial networks are, like the networks in ØICC, inspired by the Triple Helix model. A model which according to Bruce Katz’ The Rise of Innovation Districts is a key component in a successful innovation district. The goal is to make the many diverse actors ranging from academia, corporations, and startups, to public and cultural institutions to meet, share knowledge, and co-create projects and new solutions together. It is within this mashup that the unpredictable emerges and innovation is being realized.

22@ has become a catalyst for growth and innovation and has attracted universities, research institutions, private companies, entrepreneurs, and international talent to the area. And while the local focus has been on exporting the experiences from Poblenou to the rest of Barcelona, the rest of the world has discovered the innovation district and inspired developments in cities like Rio de Janeiro, Boston, Istanbul, and Cape Town.

Learn more about it here.

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