A year and a half has passed since technology fever broke out in Malaga city, thanks to Google with its upcoming cybersecurity centre of excellence; enough time for the sceptics to accept that this area’s relationship with technology giants is not just a passing “affair”.
Let’s take a look back to gauge what has happened in these 18 months. The news about Google unleashed real demand which Malaga TechPark, the city council and estate agencies managed as best they could: many companies suddenly wanted their names to be linked with Malaga as well.
‘The new Barcelona’, ‘The innovation hub of southern Europe’, ‘The Spanish Silicon Valley’… headlines like these went with every new announcement.
Just one day after Google, Dekra – a German multinational with a presence in Malaga since 2015 – redoubled its commitment to the city by opening a global information technologies hub staffed by 100 professionals.
The following month two more projects were announced: Argentinian multinational Globant’s artificial intelligence innovation centre with 200 employees; and TDK’s data science and machine-learning centre of excellence.
Vodafone Then in May last year, Vodafone made Malaga a talking point again by choosing it from seven European cities for their European R&D centre for developing new technology solutions and digital services, with a planned 600 employees.
Meanwhile, calls to the technology park and the town hall’s investment office continued to come in; last year the office attended to 152 companies that expressed an interest in moving to Malaga and 27 businesses with foreign capital did so, more than double the number in 2019.
No less important was the dynamism of local players: 2021 was the year that Besoccer became visible for what it is – a major company – with its move to a striking new head office.
It was also the year of the merger between Uptodown and Unity to challenge Google and Apple’s world domination of mobile gaming. It was the year of Freepik’s major spurt of growth, which, thanks to the fuel of EQT funds, managed to overtake its great rival Shutterstock with a 400-strong workforce. And not forgetting the birth of Innova IRV, the city’s most ambitious economic investment since the technology park was created.
At an institutional level there was also great news: the regional government designated Malaga as the base for the Andalusian Digital Agency and Cybersecurity Centre and the free 42 Malaga programming school came into operation.
New impetus Malaga’s attraction as a technology hub, far from waning, has recently been boosted even further. In just one week, three new names have been added to the already-long list of firms that have chosen to locate technological development centres here: Banco Santander, GP Bullhound and Grupo Babel.
The bank is planning to open an office to provide technological support to its investment banking division.
Something similar is due in September with GP Bullhound, which may not be well-known to the general public, but is to the technology ecosystem. Its investment portfolio contains treasures such as Spotify, Glovo, Slack, Unity and Jobandtalent.
Meanwhile, Grupo Babel, which came to Malaga last year when it bought Ingenia, is now proposing to open a global cybersecurity centre and employ 700 people within three years.
These latest announcements contrast with the signs of caution emanating from the mecca of technology. In the USA, big names in the sector are putting the brakes on their recruitment plans due to fears of a new recession. In Malaga, this does not appear to be the case. In fact, the messages from the technology firms already in the city are quite the opposite.
In addition to the announcements listed above, Ernst & Young (E&Y), which opened its Malaga excellence technology centre in 2019 and now has 500 employees, has revealed that it plans to employ 2,000 people by 2025. And Globant, which arrived last year with plans for 200 staff in an artificial intelligence specialist centre, is now talking about 400. The French firm Capgemini presented its cybersecurity and cloud centre in March and is now looking to employ another 300 specialists.