February 28, 2024

Spain to set up a new body tasked with pumping €20bn into deeptech

Spanish government seeks to speed up disbursement of funds for tech startups

José Luis Escrivá, Spain’s minister for digital transformation

Spain is setting up a new official body to accelerate the injection of €20bn through various funds into deeptech and audiovisual companies in the country.

The body, which will be approved by the Spanish Cabinet next Tuesday, will consolidate the management of several tech funds under one roof, in a bid to shorten the time it takes for companies to access their cash. 

These include the existing €4bn NextTech fund for deeptech startups, €12bn in EU funds for the semiconductor industry and the €1.7bn Hub Audiovisual fund.


Spain’s new minister for digital transformation José Luis Escrivá told the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona this week that the new body will enable “synergies among the different initiatives for cutting-edge technologies and act as a single interlocutor” with founders in those industries.

Tech sovereignty 

“More countries are realising that we need to strengthen our tech sovereignty,” Escrivá says. “It makes all the sense to put [all these funds] together.”

The Sociedad Estatal para la Transformación Tecnológica (SETT) will evaluate the technical and financial viability of projects and startups bidding for funding, offer technical and bureaucratic support to Spanish companies of all sizes, award loans and grants and take minority equity in strategic businesses.

It will have a focus on telecoms and semiconductors, and will be responsible for implementing the EU Chips Act in Spain, Escrivá says.

An investment team at SETT will seek to boost VC activity in deeptech startups and scaleups, as it aims to make it easier for founders of companies to raise funds.

Escrivá also announced the creation of the National Office for Entrepreneurship, which will offer information to founders on how to navigate the bureaucracy surrounding the creation of a new company and taxes in Spain, and attract more international talent to the country.

A robot greeting a human at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona
A robot greeting a human at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona

A slow start 

These new measures follow the introduction of Spain’s Startup law, which came into force in January 2023 to improve conditions for running a young tech company in the country.

But there are a couple of caveats. Scaleups and older startups fall outside the scope of the legislation which is targeted at earlier stage companies. And to benefit from the incentives, companies need to be certified as startups by a new government agency called Enisa.

Officials expect around 10k startups to receive Enisa’s green light but, as of February, the agency had certified about 900 out of 1,600 total applications, Enisa’s new CEO Borja Cabezón tells Sifted in an interview. He says the pace of certification is speeding up, as Enisa’s officials get more experienced at evaluating companies.

Cabezón didn’t share data on how many applications had been turned down, but says startups must comply with a number of requirements, including employing at least 60% of staff in Spain and less than €10m in turnover.


Cristina Gallardo

Cristina Gallardo is a senior reporter at Sifted based in Madrid and Barcelona. She covers Europe's tech sovereignty, deeptech and Iberia. Follow her on X and LinkedIn