Málaga is the sixth most populated city in Spain (577,405 inhabitants on 1 January 2021) and the economic and technology capital of Andalucía and, therefore, the south of Spain. Its excellent weather conditions (295 days of sunshine a year and average temperature 18.2C) and strategic location on the Mediterranean as a gateway to the European continent mean it has always been traditionally associated with the tourism sector.
However, this reality evolved in recent decades as many institutions led by the City Council have worked together to pin the Costa del Sol’s capital on the map for international investments, attracting and retaining talent and boosting technological and cultural projects that have diversified the area’s economy.
In 2019 — the year prior to the Covid-19 pandemic — Málaga’s airport recorded over 19.8 million passengers. In addition to air travel, the city has welcomed 2.5 AVE train passengers since 2007, when the high-speed track first connected Málaga and Madrid in just two and a half hours. The city is further well-connected with its extensive bus and road network.
The port, meanwhile, received a total of 477,001 cruise passengers in 2019, maintaining the figures reached in the previous fiscal year. In terms of freight traffic, 3.5 million tonnes moved through the port last year.
With 621 companies, 20,345 workers and a turnover over €2 bn, Málaga TechPark (PTA) is a hive of knowledge generation, employment and investment opportunities. The park's extension is set to include co-living spaces and a hotel for technopolis employees, among other projects.
The University of Malaga is another institution that plays an important role in the city’s economic development being a generator of skilled workers. With a newly extended campus, the university offers over 150 undergraduate and postgraduate degrees and had more than 35,000 students enrolled on degree and Master’s courses in 2020-2021.
The Spanish National Digital Content Hub offers an ecosystem spanning 12,000 m2 and hosts over one hundred companies, specialising in digital media and entertainment, especially gaming. The city’s powerful network of incubators (13 in total) is pioneering in Spain and bolsters Málaga’s entrepreneurial spirit.
Málaga’s Trade Fair and Congress Centre hosts an average of 20 fairs per year, affirming the city’s international acclaim as a conference and trade fair destination since 2003. During this time, it has played an active role in helping cement Málaga’s position as an innovation hub, promoting it as a destination for highly specialised conferences and events.
Some of the most important annual events held at the centre are Transfiere: the European Meeting on Science, Technology and Innovation, GreenCities: Forum of Urban Intelligence and Sustainability; Startup Europe Smart Agrifood Summit, the only European event on digital transformation in the agrifood industry; S-Moving: Smart, Autonomous and Unmanned Vehicles Forum, a pioneering meeting point in Europe, specialised in developing cross-cutting technologies and their use in smart, autonomous and unmanned mobility; the international congress on Blockchain and the Talent Woman forum. In addition to these are Mobile Week Málaga, a week to make technology more accessible for the general public, as well as Digital Enterprise Show, which will be held in Málaga this 2022.
The ecosystem created in Málaga, as a result of partnerships with institutions and private companies, has boosted synergies that generate, attract and retain innovative talent. The latter has been proven by the following milestones: Google and its Centre of Excellence for Cybersecurity, Vodafone and its European R&D centre, DEKRA and its Global Information Technology Hub, Globant and its Artificial Intelligence Centre and TDK and its centre of excellence.
Similarly, in 2021, in collaboration with Telefónica, the city opened 42 Málaga, an innovative educational space to train programmers. The school is based on a model with no tutors or classes that originated in Paris in 2013 and is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Málaga, finalist of the 2021 European Capital of Innovation Awards (receiving second place) is at the forefront of innovation applied to improving public services’ quality. Fruit of such is the modern, eco-friendly bus network, the electric vehicle charging network, commitment to photovoltaic energy and the public defibrillator network, which is part of the project “cardioprotected Málaga”. The latter includes an app that maps over 600 defibrillators in the city so they can be found in case of an emergency.
The city’s infrastructure also includes cultural establishments, such as: Centre Pompidou Malaga, the Russian Art Collection in the Tabacalera building, Picasso Birthplace Foundation, the Picasso Museum, the Malaga Museum (Fine Arts and Archaeology), the Carmen Thyssen Museum, the Contemporary Art Centre, the Automobile and Fashion Museum and the Jorge Rando Museum, among others.
Málaga boasts a total of 34 museums and exhibition centres, spanning almost 60,000 m², not including the private galleries with which the City Council collaborates occasionally.
Furthermore, other important cultural centres include Cervantes Theatre, Echegaray Theatre and Albéniz Cinema. The former is the venue for the Málaga Spanish Film Festival which is in its 24th edition this year and is a well-established event that promotes Spanish-speaking cinema and the audiovisual sector.