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The entrepreneurial ecosystem

10/16/2023 South Summit


  • More maturity: the average age of startups in Spain is 3.12 years, compared to 2.20 in 2019, which implies that the number of startups that have accumulated years of traction in the market is increasing.
  • New businesses: Green business is bursting onto the entrepreneurial scene and is already the fourth industry with the most newly created startups.
  • Important professionalization: 79% of Spanish startups have at least a master’s degree and/or doctorate, which makes them the most qualified among all regions and surpasses their counterparts in Europe (76%) and North America (62%).
  • The incorporation of women is a pending issue in the Spanish entrepreneurial ecosystem: only 20% of startups in Spain have a woman on their founding team, while 8% are founded exclusively by women. 




In 2022, the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Spain experienced several noteworthy trends. The emergence of the «solopreneur» figure, influenced by the US, has taken root, with 6% of startups being led by individual entrepreneurs. While the stereotype of a Spanish entrepreneur remains a stable, highly educated 33-year-old man, there’s a growing recognition of the need for greater diversity, with just 20% of entrepreneurs being women. The ecosystem has also matured, with Spanish startups now averaging a life span of three years, reflecting growth compared to previous years. The diversity in the professional backgrounds of entrepreneurs is increasing, spanning engineering and social sciences. Notably, the top sectors include Fintech, Education, and Health, showcasing a diversified landscape. Artificial Intelligence projects are on the rise, representing a significant portion of startups. Furthermore, job creation is a positive aspect, with most startups having between 2 to 10 employees, and income generation is on the upswing. Funding sources are shifting towards professionalism and private funds, reflecting a more balanced model. This evolving landscape also highlights the demand for improved taxation, investor attraction, and hiring flexibility across all regions.

The Spanish entrepreneurial landscape is a dynamic and evolving ecosystem, as revealed by the recent presentation of the Entrepreneurship Map 2023. During the presentation, María Benjumea, the founder and President of South Summit, and Salvador Aragón, Chief Innovation Officer at IE University, shed light on several key insights that define the state of entrepreneurship in Spain.

A Demand for Highly Qualified Entrepreneurs: One striking aspect of the Spanish entrepreneurial scene is the demand for highly qualified individuals. Many entrepreneurs are well-educated, with many holding master’s or PhD degrees. This emphasis on education underscores the importance of knowledge and expertise in the ecosystem.

Gender Disparity Persists: Despite efforts to promote gender diversity in entrepreneurship, the 80/20 gender ratio remains stubbornly unchanged. The representation of women in the entrepreneurial space has barely shifted in the last decade, highlighting the need for more inclusive strategies.

Serial Entrepreneurs and Startup Proliferation: Around a third of entrepreneurs in Spain have embarked on the journey of creating more than three startups. Serial entrepreneurship is on the rise, showcasing the experience and resilience of many individuals in the ecosystem.

Madrid’s Economic Diversification: Madrid stands out as a leader in the service economy, characterized by its diversified business landscape. The city’s focus on delivering experiences rather than purely technology-driven products sets it apart, making it an attractive destination for emerging entrepreneurs.

Maturing Startups: Spanish startups are gaining maturity, with an increasing number of them enjoying longer lifespans and establishing themselves firmly in the market. The registration process for startups has become more streamlined, allowing ideas to transform into incorporated businesses quickly.

Evolving Founding Teams: Founding teams are evolving, with an increasing trend toward mixed and compact teams consisting of fewer than three founders. This trend promotes collaboration and synergy among entrepreneurs.

Shifting Funding Sources: Funding sources are evolving, with a decline in initial financing from personal resources and a simultaneous increase in private investments. Public investment is also making a more pronounced appearance, contributing to the growth of the entrepreneurial ecosystem.

Tech Innovation and Opportunities: Spain is experiencing growth in cutting-edge technologies like artificial intelligence, positioning itself close to Europe’s innovation levels. While some mature technologies like Big Data and Cloud still feature prominently, there is a notable shift toward more experiential software combined with other services.

Green Business and Sustainability: The «Green Business» movement is gaining momentum and securing top positions in various industries. The commitment to sustainability is consolidating and expanding into new sectors, particularly services.

The presentation of the Entrepreneurship Map 2023 underscores several key opportunities for the Spanish entrepreneurial ecosystem:

  • Strengthen Female Presence: Encouraging serial entrepreneurs can be a strategic move to bolster female representation in the ecosystem.
  • Technology Integration: Incorporating technology-focused startups with patents can drive innovation and competitiveness.
  • Comprehensive Capabilities: Startups should look beyond financing and embrace complementary capabilities such as technological innovation, management expertise, and talent support to thrive in the ecosystem.

The entrepreneurial ecosystem is a vibrant and evolving ecosystem with an exciting landscape for growth and innovation. The insights from the Entrepreneurship Map 2023 provide valuable guidance for entrepreneurs and policymakers alike as they continue to nurture and develop this dynamic environment. As Spain continues to evolve and adapt, the future promises a more diverse, innovative, and inclusive entrepreneurial landscape.