Barcelona's Mobile Acceleration Program


This entry is an excerpt from the Nesta's "Digital Entrepreneurship: An ‘Idea Bank’ for Local Policymakers" (2016), with updates to the information since the publication of the report. Along other types of policy instruments, Nesta explored city-level efforts to leverage accelerators in policy instruments.*

The City of Barcelona in particular advertised an open call in 2016 for outstanding accelerators to set up a programme in the city. The goals were to support local startups, as well as to attract new high-potential ventures, entrepreneurs and talent to Barcelona.


The French Accelerator NUMA won the tender and created a programme in partnership with mVenturesBcn (part of the Mobile World Capital Barcelona Foundation, which is founded by the Government of Spain, the Regional Government of Catalonia and the City Hall of Barcelona, along with the GSMA).

Aside of funding and office space, NUMA Barcelona provides access to a solid network of international mentors who will provide support to the business teams.

Each year, the accelerator aims to accelerate ten startups, offering a four month programme including mentorship and a €30,000 convertible note in exchange for 5 per cent equity.


The City of Barcelona invested €3 million in the programme. 

NUMA Barcelona is in turn a joint venture of the French global innovation network NUMA and mVenturesBcn.


Aleix Valls, Director General of Mobile World Capital Barcelona.


*About leveraging accelerators in policy instruments (excerpt from Nesta's ‘Idea Bank’ for Local Policymakers):

Accelerators have exploded across the startup scene in the past decade. Models and definitions vary, but most share the common features of delivering a time-limited, competitive, cohort-based training programme, often geared towards investment readiness.87, 88 Although there may be substantial differences in terms of sector, mission and funding, mentoring is almost always a critical component of the programme.

Many accelerators are privately-funded, aimed either at generating investment opportunities or, as with some corporate-sponsored accelerators, encouraging new technical solutions. However, numerous publicly-funded accelerator programmes can also be found – often with an emphasis on urban regeneration rather than financial return. In addition, EU-funded initiatives such as the Accelerator Assembly exist to help accelerators share good practice (such as focusing on quality of applicants; promoting peer-learning; building entrepreneurial networks and finding the best-quality mentors possible).

Public policy here should focus first on understanding the existing distribution of privately-funded accelerators, so as to avoid competition using public funds. Co-investment of public funds may help stimulate private activity, although in such instances, alignment of the funders’ success criteria is important. These may diverge if, for instance, a VC funder wants accelerated firms to move abroad in search of funding or a higher valuation, whilst a public funder wants them to remain to aid the local economy.

Various national schemes have been created to develop accelerators (e.g. the South African Department of Trade and Industry’s Incubation Support Programme, or Enterprise Ireland’s Accelerator Development Scheme). However, individual cities have also taken the initiative to fund such schemes.


The World Bank Group, GEN UK
The World Bank Group, GEN UK