City Dispatch: Bilbao

City Dispatch: Bilbao

Bilbao is a prime example of an industrial site that has turned into a service city. Thanks to a huge urban regeneration project, Bilbao and its metropolitan area are now a new region. The industrial past, though, is still present in the region, where automotive, metal, energy and machine tool are the most important industries.




Arantza Atutxa, Jone Zubiaga, Nora de Bustria

Bilbao is a friendly city for living and working. The high quality of life is tangible, especially when compared with the rest of Spain – a wide education offer, high quality health service, growing cultural offer (due to the increasing number of tourists) and efficient connections make Bilbao a great place to settle and develop your personal and professional lives.

Tourism in the city was given a huge boost by the opening of the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao in 1997, and its cultural offer continues to develop, alongside business tourism utilising new venues like the Euskalduna Conference Centre and Bilbao Exhibition Centre.

"Today the creative ecosystem offers new visions and innovation opportunities, and provide the city with a great diversity."

So what makes Bilbao a city for business? Easy access to the human capital – well trained professionals – a good transport infrastructure (port, airport, road network, railway, underground), the international projection of the city and the increasing amount of congresses, trade fairs and seminars combine to bring talent and knowledge to Bilbao.

The city offers great opportunities for professional development. On one hand, this is a relatively small city and region, which makes success and failure more visible. But word of mouth works in the culture of business here, so references, professional relations and trust are key when doing business in the city.

The creative industries have grown and strengthened exponentially in the last years. Both private programs and public policies have woken the sector and support the blooming of a creative community. Today the creative ecosystem offers new visions and innovation opportunities, and provide the city with a great diversity.

Indeed, the Financial Times recently ranked Bilbao 4th in its list of “European Cities and Regions for the future 2014/2015”, citing Bilbao as is one of the most attractive cities in southern Europe for foreign investment. This award is international recognition to the strategies driven by the city, the region of Bizkaia and the whole Basque Country to generate an economic ecosystem that offers security, reliability and trustworthiness.

Arantza Atutxa, Nora de Bustria and Jone Zubiaga are directors of Peopleing Estudio Bilbao, a creative industries agency specialising in organising and promoting youth and cultural activities, events and services for tourism.

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