The European Union has just published the 2019 edition of its Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI). It shows that Spain has improved in almost all the key performance indicators, highlighting the variable of digital public services, in which we went from 6th to 4th place with a score of 78.4 out of 100 compared to the 62.9 average of the other 28 countries that make up the EU.

The report highlights the country’s position in the open data indicators, in which we rank second, and eHealth services, where we come in fifth. The level of online interaction between public authorities and citizens is also relevant: 76% of Spanish internet users actively participate in eGovernment services.

Our country also remains in the top ten in regard to connectivity, rising from 10th to 9th place. We are the 8th economy that is best preparing for the arrival of 5G, the 7th in ultra-fast broadband coverage and the 11th in the implementation of new generation broadband.

In the global calculation, our country has also improved its figures compared to 2018. We remain in 11th position, but are constantly improving: from 53.2 points last year to 56.1 out of the current 100. Spain thus places itself above countries such as Germany, France and Italy.

The details of the index

The DESI is a composite index that summarises five digital key performance indicators for Europe and tracks the evolution of the 28 EU Member States in digital competitiveness. These five indicators (which in turn are divided into several sub-sections) are: connectivity, human capital, internet use, integration of digital technology and digital public services.

The report includes data on how innovation is impacting on the ICT sector, including R&D spending and the use of Horizon 2020 funds. In this last point Spain also stands out: between 2014 and 2018, our companies raised nearly one billion euros, putting us in 4th place in the ranking. An excellent example of the innovative future that is being forged within our borders.

Those responsible for the report point out that, in order to improve the methodology and take into account the latest technological advances, a series of changes have been introduced in DESI 2019. These changes have also served to recalculate data from previous years.

Signs of competitiveness

The DESI data reflects Spain’s efforts in terms of competitiveness. This is complemented by the Global Competitiveness Report 2018 prepared by the World Economic Forum, in which our country ranks 26 out of 140 nations. In this index we are at the forefront in terms of healthcare systems and number 10 in infrastructure.

The Financial Times has also highlighted the attractiveness of our cities for startups, especially innovative technology-based companies financed with venture capital. The British newspaper recognised Barcelona and Madrid as two of the fastest growing startup cities in Europe.

In 2018, the two cities attracted 1.3 billion euros in investments, 70% more than the previous year. The Startup Ecosystem Overview 2019 report, which was presented at the last Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, confirms this. Currently, Spain has more than 4,100 companies of this type and some of them are already worth more than 1 billion euros.