Catalonia is Spain’s leading region in the development of green and digital technologies. Catalonia and Madrid together account for 60% of the country’s recently developed patents in future technologies like 3-D printing, cloud computing, cybersecurity, and advanced materials. However, there is also substantial untapped potential to develop new green and digital technologies in other Spanish regions.

The new study by Bertelsmann Stiftung’s Europe’s Economy Project Technological Capabilities and the Twin Transition in Europe: Opportunities for regional collaboration and economic cohesion highlights the importance of inter-regional collaboration in the development of new technologies and illustrates where there is untapped potential for collaboration across the EU.

On October 17th, the Bertelsmann Stiftung, together with the Fundación Bertelsmann and the Institut Barcelona d’Estudis Internacionals (IBEI), hosted an event at the Universitat Pompeu Fabra (UPF) in Barcelona to an audience consisting of representatives from politics, business, civil society and academia to present the study and discuss the opportunity for Spain to excel in the twin transition by leveraging untapped potential in all of its regions.


The study, co-authored by Thomas Schwab, Julia Bachtrögler-Unger, Pierre-Alexandre Balland and Ron Boschma, measures the technological capabilities of all EU regions in the field of green and digital technologies and proposes that leveraging untapped potential for interregional cooperation can be beneficial for regional cohesion and the development of new technologies.

To open the event, remarks were given by:

  • Jacint Jordana, Director, Institut Barcelona d’Estudis Internacionals (IBEI) and Professor of Political Science and Administration at Universitat Pompeu Fabra (UPF)
  • Clara Bassols, Director, Fundación Bertelsmann
  • Manuel Szapiro, Director, European Commission Representation in Barcelona
  • Meritxell Serret, Regional Minister for External Action and EU Affairs, Government of Catalonia
green transition
Pablo Pareja, Clara Bassols, Manuel Szapiro, Meritxell Serret, Jacint Jordana and Malte Zabel

After a short speech by Malte Zabel (Co-Director, Europe’s Future Programme, Bertelsmann Stiftung) on the motivation and importance of the study in the European context, Nathan Crist presented its core results, with a special focus on Spain.

The metropolitan regions of Barcelona and Madrid have considerable, complex technological capabilities. But Andalusia, an economically rather weak region overall, also has considerable potential as a hidden champion, which could be better leveraged through cooperation with other regions. Overall, the study underscores that many regions could look further beyond neighbouring regions in their search for partners to enrich their technological capabilities.

green transition
Vicent Climent-Ferrando, Aina Gallego, Andrea Noferini and Nathan Crist

Following the presentation, an expert panel discussed the study in depth.

  • Aina Gallego, Professor of Political Science at the University of Barcelona
  • Andrea Noferini, Faculty at the Centre for International Affairs at the University of Barcelona and Professor at Pompeu Fabra University
  • Nathan Crist, Project Manager, Europe’s Future Programme, Bertelsmann Stiftung

The discussion on the importance of multi-level governance and public-private-partnerships provided valuable food for thought for the Europe’s Economy project team. To download the study, please click here.

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About the authors

Nathan Crist is Project Manager in the Europe’s Future Program at the Bertelsmann Stiftung working on the Europe’s Economy Project.

Thomas Schwab is Project Manager for the Europe’s Future Program at the Bertelsmann Stiftung. He applies a data-driven approach to economic analysis by employing data science and econometric methods.

Malte Zabel is Co-Director of the Bertelsmann Stiftung’s Europe’s Future Program, which pursues projects on the EU’s sovereignty, a coherent internal market, and European public opinion.

Read more about Cohesion Policy and the Twin Transition. 

Digital and Green Transition Threatens to Widen the Gap between EU Regions (

Cohesion Policy’s Blind Spot: Strong Regional Institutions are Crucial to Implementing Effective Growth Strategies on the Ground – Global & European Dynamics (

Two Birds with one Drone: How Technological Progress can Target the Twin Transition and Regional Cohesion (