Barcelona Urban Lab

Case Study

“An opportunity for entrepreneurs and innovators to develop real pilots in real places with real citizens.”

Josep Pique, CEO, Office of Economic Growth, Barcelona City Council 

  • Methods
  • Resources
Where they are based

Barcelona, Spain

Location in government

City government

Mission Statement

“Urban Lab is a tool to facilitate the use of public spaces in the city of Barcelona to carry out tests and pilot programs on products and services with an urban impact. The idea is to use the city as an urban laboratory.”

Size of Team


Annual Spend

£185,000 (2013)1



Example of Impact

Supported 16 pilots to date, with many turning into businesses in Barcelona and other cities around the world.

How can entrepreneurs with ideas to improve urban life test them in a city environment? Barcelona Urban Lab was created in response to this challenge. It opened up the city as a site for experimentation, enabling entrepreneurs to pilot products and services.

What it does

The Barcelona Urban Lab is turning the city into an urban laboratory for businesses to test out their potential solutions in a real world setting.

The Urban Lab uses open innovation methods to stimulate innovation with the twin goals of achieving better outcomes for citizens and supporting commercially successful local businesses.  All of the Urban Labs projects take place in real urban settings and most involve the use of sensors. For example, Urbiotica experiments with sensors to measure waste levels in public bins to make waste collection more efficient. 

Interesting features
  • Resources: The Urban Lab has developed a low cost model, mobilising the existing assets of the city to encourage private sector investment in innovation.
  • Methods: The Urban Lab uses open innovation methods to stimulate innovation.


  1. Confirmed by Barcelona Urban Lab in email correspondence with Nesta, February 2014, converted from €225,000, conversion: €0.822143 to £1, as exchange rate on 21/01/2013, taken from:

Photo Credit: Image courtesy of Barcelona Activa (Barcelona City Council)


This page was last updated on

Friday, June 27, 2014 - 16:02