OECD Reviews of Regional Innovation: Catalonia, Spain 2010

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This review of regional innovation assesses how to improve Catalonia's current strategy and actions in order to boost its innovation system through both its own programmes and those of Spain and the European Union.

It finds that with over seven million inhabitants and a GDP of around EUR 204 billion, Catalonia is not only an important region within Spain, but within the OECD as well. Indeed, its economic output is similar to countries like Portugal and Norway. The region experienced massive population growth over the past decade, due to immigration, which in part drove GDP growth. However, Catalonia’s productivity is slipping, relative to other OECD regions, necessitating the transition to a productivity-driven growth model through a stronger regional innovation system. The region has successfully strengthened its research base, with investments in R&D having increased four-fold over the past decade. Catalonia is now mobilising actors across the innovation system in regional centres, such as Barcelona, to improve productivity and address social challenges.  



Innovation and the Catalan Economy

With over 7 million inhabitants and a GDP of around EUR 204 billion, Catalonia is an important region within Spain and the OECD. It has a strong identify with its own language and distinct cultural heritage. The industrial tradition has lead to a diversified industrial base, concentrated in mediumlow and medium-high technology sectors. The region has had an influx of over 1 million immigrants since 2000, many low-skilled, to feed expansion of the service and construction sectors. Like Spain generally, the Catalan economy and GDP per capita has grown due to increased labour force participation while productivity has remained stagnant. Innovation is therefore essential to ensuring sustained economic growth – especially for its SMEs. Catalonia contributes significantly to Spain’s innovation system due to its size and strength, making it one of the top Spanish regions. For the OECD, however, Catalonia’s innovation performance is only average. Boosting the region’s innovation performance will therefore benefit both Catalonia and Spain.


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