Spanish tech certainly hasn’t been immune to the general slowdown in the markets this year, but things could definitely be worse.
While it looks like Spanish startups will raise a little less than they did in 2021, the dropoff in funding volume in the second half of the year wasn’t anything like as dramatic as was seen across Europe. Overall funding into European startups fell from $62.3bn in H1 2022 to $32.1bn in H2 (as of December 20), while in Spain the figure fell from $2bn to $1.5bn in the same period, according to data from Dealroom.
This was helped along by some chunky raises in the latter half of the year, like HR software builder Factorial’s $120m Series C, which saw the company hit unicorn status. So-called “soonicorns” also raised, including fraud prevention scaleup Red Points. It announced a fresh €20m funding round in November, although it declined to share its valuation — a possible symptom of the wider downward pressure on startup pricing in Europe.
But while the economy always moves in cycles — and we’re currently in a tough moment — Spain’s tech startup sector continues to move in the right direction.
Here are some of the main moments from Sifted’s Spanish coverage in 2022.
Soonicorns and new unicorns
Factorial and Red Points aside, less recognisable names also raised big rounds: cybersecurity startup IriusRisk landed $28.7m to scale its teams in Spain, the UK and the US. The round is evidence of Spain’s growing reputation as a tech exporter, with founder Stephen de Vries telling Sifted that the majority of the company’s clients are US-based. Barcelona-based business travel startup TravelPerk also reached unicorn status, after raising a $115m top up to its $160m Series D.
Spain’s starting to produce more and more deeptech success stories, like Red Points and IriusRisk. Quantum computing startup Multiverse Computing was one of Spain’s fastest growing startups this year, while photonics startup iPronics raised €3.7m to develop and scale its technology to build ultrafast microprocessors.
Other cutting-edge tech companies highlighted by investors this year include “edge computing” startup Nearby Computing, AI-powered voice modulator tech company Voicemod and radiology image analysis tool Quibim.
Success outside Madrid and Barcelona
Another noticeable — and heartening — trend for Spanish tech in 2022 was the growing prominence of startup success coming from outside the two major hubs of Madrid and Barcelona. The above-mentioned iPronics, Multiverse Computing and IriusRisk are headquartered in Valencia, San Sebastian and Huesca (Aragon), respectively, and they’re not the only ones making waves from all around Spain.
Other fast-growing startups from outside the national and Catalan capitals include industrial 3D printing company Triditive from Mieres (Asturias), electric vehicle charging platform Zunder in Palencia (Castile and León) and Sesame HR in Valencia.
A big year for Glovo
2022 was also an eventful year for Spain’s best-known tech company Glovo, which kicked off the year with a bang. Just before the clock struck midnight on New Year’s Eve, Delivery Hero announced it would acquire the Barcelona-based food delivery scaleup.
It was a surprising start to the year for many. Cofounder Oscar Pierre had previously told Sifted that he planned to take Glovo all the way to an IPO
Given what’s happened to tech stocks on the public markets in this downturn, and the knock-on effect for IPOs, the timing of the deal could be interpreted as a stroke of genius (Glovo’s shareholders would certainly have got a better price then than they would now).
But that doesn’t mean it’s all been smooth sailing for the company. In March, former and current Glovo employees described a ruthless “hire and fire” culture at the company, while staff at Foodpanda, which Glovo acquired in May 2021, also complained that layoffs has been handled “unempathetically”.
Subsequently, news broke that the European Union was investigating Glovo and Delivery Hero for possibly operating “cartels”, and insiders shared documents and testimony with Sifted suggesting Pierre “did not take antitrust rules seriously.”
The digital nomad visa finally got signed off
People from outside the EU have been watching one particular piece of Spanish policymaking with bated breath over the last couple of years: the Startup Law. That’s due to one specific measure in the legislation, which also addresses things like taxation and stock options for startups: a new visa for digital nomads to enter the country.
The visa is set to go live from March 2023, and will allow people to gain the right to live and work in Spain, and pay a reduced tax rate while they’re there. The hope is that the move will attract an affluent and skilled workforce to Spain, who will contribute to the economy — both through their buying power and by potentially incorporating startups in the country.