Malaga has a great track record as a technology and innovation centre. This year alone, companies such as Google, Vodafone and Dekra have announced that they will set up their research centres here. The waiting list for a space in the Málaga TechPark is long. The comparisons with Silicon Valley are obvious.
In California, it was Stanford University that promoted the development of the first industrial parks, where companies such as Hewlett Packard and Lockheed set up shop. There they built their high-tech centres, enabling their students to find jobs close to home. This is exactly what is happening in Malaga. The local university, like Stanford University in Silicon Valley, has close links with the TechPark and benefits from numerous collaborations. Many engineers and computer scientists find a place in one of the big international companies, or in their own company, at the TechPark after finishing their studies.
The fact that Malaga has evolved from a purely tourist destination to a technology centre is due to the fact that the city offers a good environment for innovation. The commitment of the city hall and the private sector, the city’s international outlook and good infrastructure play an important role.
A strong commitment from city hall and local business
Innovation is very important in Malaga. At the end of November, the city received second prize, behind Dortmund, as European Capital of Innovation 2021. This is also thanks in no small part to the mayor of Malaga, Francisco de la Torre, who is very interested in promoting the city as a “smart city”.
Through the municipal organisation Promálaga, services are offered to facilitate the settlement of highly qualified professionals from abroad or from the rest of the country.
The city hall also tries to attract large congresses, such as the World Mobile Week, which is being held this December and is organised jointly with Mobile World Capital Barcelona.
In addition, there are incubators for projects such as ‘Polo Digital’ for digital content, which is linked to the development of video games and has promoted more than 260 start-ups in the last three years. The Vodafone Giants e-sports club is the largest e-sports centre in Europe.
But it is not only the city administration that drives innovation. Rather, it is the entrepreneurs who promote their city. One of them is Bernardo Quintero, founder of Virustotal, who is largely responsible for Google setting up its cybersecurity headquarters in Malaga’s port area. Quintero, a software engineer, had refused to leave his hometown, so Google came to him.
In many talks and conferences, Quintero advocates for more support for start-ups and the advancement of the innovation ecosystem in Malaga. In this quest, he also counts on the backing of the bosses at Freepik and BeSoccer – two international companies also based in Malaga.
Together they all promote the Malaga brand in the world of technology.
Good infrastructure and networks
Decades of investment in the tourism sector have provided Malaga with good infrastructure: a modern airport, a good motorway system and rail connections (it takes 2.5 hours to reach Madrid on the AVE), hotels, housing, services of all kinds and a fast fibre optic network. Overall, it has an infrastructure that is well adapted to the needs of digital companies. What’s more, there is a good health system and many international schools.
Malaga is well-connected to the rest of the world and offers competitive advantages, especially due to its good climate, with 320 days of sunshine a year.
In addition, there is a great cultural offer with numerous museums, a wide variety of outdoor sports and a cuisine that offers something for everyone, from chiringuitos (beach bars) to luxury restaurants.
These are all factors that attract national and international visitors alike, and skilled workers from all over the world.
The next few years will show whether Malaga can become Europe’s Silicon Valley. It seems to be on the right track at least.