Ada Colau


1,640,000 (2019)

Innovation Website
Lead Innovation Officer

Michael Donaldson

Innovation is helping to:
  • Improve internal government operations

  • Improve service delivery

  • Engage residents and other stakeholders

  • Provide better social care services

  • Understand better the needs of citizens

Critical success factors:
  • Focus on measurement

  • Human resource support

  • Culture of innovation in city

  • Leadership from Mayor

Spotlight on innovation in Barcelona

The City Council of Barcelona leverages all innovative digital tools available to facilitate easy access to public information for residents and to engage various stakeholders in solving urban problems. Their current innovation strategy has been supported by the Urban Innovation Centre—a hybrid body of the City Council tasked with fostering innovation. The center plays a crucial role in the urban innovation ecosystem by inviting start-ups and SMEs to submit proposals for innovative solutions to urban challenges, and by coordinating the participatory process for all stakeholders in a shared effort to rethink Barcelona’s unique innovation district 22@.

Vision and approach to innovation capacity

Along with 50% of cities surveyed, Barcelona has an explicit innovation strategy. Similar to more than half of cities surveyed, Barcelona approaches innovation capacity both from a holistic/macro level, as well as in specific policy areas.

Policy areas that Barcelona is focused on

Urban Innovation
Social/civic innovation

Urban innovation: Barcelona has created an Urban Innovation Platform with up to 100 external members, including innovation experts of several fields from the public sector, knowledge institutes and academies to the civic society. The platform helps co-defining the main challenges the city needs to address in innovation terms. The City Council also has an Urban Innovation Center, which aims to foster innovation in four ways: co-creation, transformation, divulgation and education.

Social/civic innovation: In Barcelona, the digital participation and democratic platform "Decidim.Barcelona" gives citizens a voice, allowing them to decide on the future of their surroundings. It is a digital platform that engages citizens in a participatory process, allowing them to debate, respond and gather proposals. The tool has been developed using open-source software and open code, in order to enable re-use and continuous improvement.

Policy areas by number of cities

Barcelona utilizes 5 different innovation skills or roles

Project manager
Data scientist
Community engagement staff
Communication officer
Innovation roles by number of cities

Barcelona’s innovation work is sprinkled throughout the municipality, with 15 staff working specifically on innovation.

Terms Barcelona most associates with innovation

Technological innovation
Resident engagement

Barcelona's most common innovation activities

Promoting data-driven analytics / public data management
e.g. data storage/analytics; open data; big data
Engaging residents in new ways
  1. 1

    Taking risks or testing new ideas

  2. 2

    Data-driven analytics/public data management

  3. 3

    Engaging residents in new ways

  4. 4

    Developing new solutions based on digital technologies

  5. 5

    Organizational change within the municipality

  6. 6

    Human-centered design

  7. 7

    Rethinking your city’s approach to financing partnerships

How is innovation funded here?

Like 81% of cities surveyed, Barcelona has dedicated funding to support innovation capacity.

Top sources of funding

International/multilateral institution budget
International/multilateral institution budget
This refers to resources from international and/or multilateral institutions’ budgets (i.e. European Union)
Central/federal/national government budget
Central/federal/national government budget
This refers to funding in the form of budget support to city authorities. Example: Stockholm (Sweden) launched the Hub for Innovation, a three-year long project funded by Sweden's National Innovation Authority, Vinnova in 2017. The hub supports a more innovative working culture within the city hall.
Municipal budget
Municipal budget
This could include, for instance, City Council approved funds; operating budget; a special funding process (bond, Mayoral special initiative funding, etc.); and participatory budgeting / citizen-selected budgeting.
External funding
External funding
This could include private, philanthropic/non-profit and/or academic/think tank resources.

Activities being funded

Idea generation & brainstorming
Investing in digital systems
Investing in physical infrastructure
Paying for services
47 cities
Launching or sustaining a project
79 cities
Idea generation & brainstorming
51 cities
Investing in digital systems
36 cities
Investing in physical infrastructure
30 cities
Paying for services

Similar to 61% of participating cities in the 2020 survey, Amsterdam's funding for innovation capacity is also directed towards training staff and building capacity*.

*"Training staff and building capacity" is not an option in the 2018 survey, while "Launching or sustaining a project" is not an option in the 2020 survey.

How is innovation measured?

Barcelona has developed partnerships to promote innovation capacity with other public agencies, private firms, not-for-profit organisations, and city residents/resident associations.

To improve data use, the city has also developed data partnerships with the private sector, academia and research institutions to collect and analyse data. Barcelona is exploring how to scale up partnership agreements with good results.

Data availability by policy area


Sufficient data

Land use

Built environment

Social welfare/social services

Social inclusion and equity

Waste and sewage

Policing and law enforcement

Labour market and skills


Insufficient data


Economic Development



Digital governance


Environment and climate change

Government finance


Public works

No Response