1. The Innovation Barometer produced by the Government of Catalonia shows that 12.6% of Catalan companies adopted artificial intelligence in 2023
  2. The companies that are innovating anticipate increasing their efficiency, turnover and productivity, and creating new jobs
  3. The number of companies working on R&D activity is also on the rise: 26.5% of Catalan companies acquired or undertook R&D in 2023, a higher percentage than in 2022 (18.3%)

A total of 59.8% of Catalan companies innovated in 2023, a higher percentage than in 2022 (56.4%), according to the Innovation Barometer produced by the Government of Catalonia through the Ministry of Business and Labour. The document is the result of a survey of 1,200 companies with more than nine employees, representing Catalonia as a whole.

According to the study, the increase in innovation by Catalan companies is largely due to the boost provided by the European Commission’s NextGenerationEU Funds. While 5% of innovative companies had secured funding from this instrument in 2022, the percentage rose to 23.5% in 2023.

The Government’s Secretary for Enterprise and Competitiveness, Albert Castellanos i Maduell, said that “it is evident that Catalan companies are becoming increasingly innovative in structural terms, with the impact that innovation has on increasing turnover, increasing productivity and creating skilled jobs”. According to Castellanos, “innovation is not only one of the key assets for transforming the country in both business and social terms, but it is also the basis for the industry we will have in ten years’ time.” The Secretary believes that these figures “consolidate the trend” highlighted by the European Commission, with Catalonia included in the strong innovator category for the first time on the European Innovation Scoreboard 2023.

Snapshot of innovative businesses

The Innovation Barometer shows that 69.7% of innovative companies have innovated in products, 53.7% in information and communication systems, and 41% in business process development. Other companies have done so in the production of goods or services (40.1%), and in marketing and sales (28%).

As a result, the companies anticipate increasing their efficiency (62% of innovative companies), turnover (59.8%) and productivity (54.1%) in 2024. It also shows that 34.4% expect the average cost of their product or service to fall, while 18.4% expect to create new jobs. The Innovation Barometer underlines its clear relationship with internationalisation: 58.1% of innovative companies exported in 2023, while only 28.4% of non-innovative companies sold their products abroad.

In terms of age, the trend of recent years persists: innovation is more concentrated in the youngest companies (73.4% of companies less than 9 years old innovated in 2023) and the most mature ones (67.4% of those over 50 years old engaged in some innovation).

More R&D, more impact

The Innovation Barometer also shows that 26.5% of Catalan companies acquired or developed R&D in 2023, up from 18.3% in 2022. The vast majority of companies did so in order to introduce a new product or service to the market (82.9%) or to implement a new business model (31%), while others did so in order to apply for a patent as a result of this R&D (13.5%) or to register a new trademark (10.6%).

Growing use of AI

The study highlights the growing use of artificial intelligence by the country’s business fabric. According to the document, 12.6% of Catalan companies adopted AI technology, up from 8.4% in 2022. Much of this increase is explained by the use of generative AI.

In overall terms, the document published last Wednesday shows that the percentage of Catalan companies that invested in digital transformation increased from 35% in 2022 to 38.6% in 2023. The most widely adopted technologies were the Internet of Things (13.6% of Catalan companies), big data (12.1%), artificial intelligence (12.6%), 5G (6.3%) and advanced computing (4.7%).

Finally, the Innovation Barometer shows that 41.4% of Catalan companies invested in green transformation in 2023, up from 38.8% in 2022. This includes investments in renewable energies (20.2% of Catalan companies), using recycled materials (17.7%), sourcing new materials (17.5%), eco-design (17.1%) and investments in the entire product or service cycle, business model or production process (13.3%).