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Key industries

Audio-visual, animation, videogame and cultural industries

There are many reasons why the Canary Islands are a perfect natural setting for any productions. Versatile landscapes, a comprehensive business ecosystem, companies with highly skilled workers, and an attractive tax system have all made the islands a natural backdrop for many national and international productions.

In 2018 more than 350 films were made in the Canary Islands. The islands became the desert planet of Coriella, the Wild West, Egypt of the pharaohs, Casablanca of World War II, the home of the great white whale Moby Dick, etc. Every year the islands are also the setting for numerous commercial advertisements. International firms, especially those in the automobile industry, choose Canary Island landscapes and roads to showcase their products to the world. Companies like Porsche, Volkswagen, Armani and H&M want to shoot their ad campaigns in the Canary Islands.

CANARY ISLANDS FILM, a department within the Canary Islands government, offers pertinent information on tax benefits, locations and all audio-visual production requirements.

Innovations in tourism

Around 13 million tourists a year choose the Canary Islands as a vacation destination. Innovative projects in this area, such as the development of management software and ICT projects, renovation of accommodation installations, alternative leisure and other innovative services, are all excellent opportunities.

Product niche markets:

⮚     Services that enhance products (wellness, volcanic experience, etc.)

⮚     Science tourism

⮚     Adventure sports

⮚     Travel mentors and holistic vacations

Tourism services niche markets:

⮚     ICT-based technology services: develop management tools, market tourism products and implement ICT services (WiFi, WiMax, etc.) for tourist areas.

⮚     Other technology services: develop efficient energy saving systems, home automation systems, materials for sustainable construction, efficient lighting systems, etc. that are relevant to tourist resorts and companies.

⮚     Other services: high-value services such as design, interior design, alternative transportation, culinary services, etc.

Energy and waste treatment industry

Renewable energy

The natural conditions in the archipelago are unique for developing wind, solar and wave or tidal energy. The Canary Islands are at the forefront of water and clean energy technologies:

⮚     World leaders in seawater desalination technology with an installed capacity of more than 660,000m3//day of water produced from desalination. The first desalination plant in Spain was launched on the island of Lanzarote in 1965. The Canary Islands are currently number one in research and development in this technology.

⮚     Canary Islands make it possible to obtain a considerable return per square meter on investments in industries like wind, photovoltaic and tidal energy, as well as major advances in applied research.

Noteworthy examples:

o   Solar energy: more than 4,500 hours of sunlight per year, with a radiation of 5-6 KWh/m2 per day. Photovoltaic systems produce of over 1,700 hours.

o   Wind power: constant winds with average speeds of 6 to 8 m/s provide wind farms the equivalent of 3,000 to 4,000 hours.

o   The Canary Islands Energy Plan includes the installation of 1,025 MW of wind power, 310 MW of offshore wind power, 300 MW of photovoltaic energy, 331.3 MW in reversible hydropower and 57 MW in other types of renewable energy (geothermal, biomass, etc.).

⮚     It should be noted that the Canary Islands has great geothermal power potential and is positioned at the head of Europe along with Iceland. The main advantage of this type of renewable energy is its continuity, whereas the more established sources such as solar and wind depend on day/night cycles and wind, respectively.

⮚     El Hierro 100% Renewable Project, managed by Gorona del Viento: the island of El Hierro is part of an ambitious project to become the first island in the world to meet its needs solely with renewable energy. The wind-hydro system included building a hydroelectric power plant with 11.32 MW of installed power. A later phase of the project envisions introducing electric vehicles and the imminent disappearance of all energy sources based on fossil fuels. The island is being used to carry out macro laboratory experiments aimed at achieving new forms of renewable energy based on models for sustainable development.

⮚     The Oceanic Platform of the Canary Islands (PLOCAN) is one of the great infrastructures of the Spanish scientific scene, which aims to serve as a base for testing and developing international projects in marine and applied ocean technologies. PLOCAN in this way contributes to advancing new and emerging technologies and introducing them to the market.


Offshore industry

The Canary Islands are the ideal one-stop-shop for the offshore industry, thanks to its privileged geostrategic location and vast offer of innovative and experienced local and international suppliers of products, services and solutions. The archipelago’s key position in the Atlantic means that it has the competitive advantage of being able to respond quickly to companies in the offshore industry that operate between Europe, Africa and the Americas. Companies can better serve agents involved in ongoing exploration, production and development operations in these regions throughout the year, as the excellent conditions allow for year-round work.

Besides being a compulsory leg of the journey between Europe, the Americas and Africa, as a strategic supply and repair station for ships in the mid-Atlantic, the Canary Islands have advantages over the political instability of other regions. This situation has led companies based in the Canary Islands ports to provide services to the main operators passing through the islands or operating in West Africa.

The archipelago has highly qualified workers employed by major companies in the offshore industry. All of them can enjoy excellent logistical arrangements to carry out their business, as well as great connectivity since the ports are only 20 minutes by car from international airports with direct flights to most Europeans cities and major airports in Africa.

These and other advantages are why leading companies in the industry have decided to set up a base at ports in the Canary Islands. Such is the case of Kongsberg, Transocean Ltd., Chevron, TOTAL, Petrobras, Shell, SubSea Masters, ORYX, SubSea Services, Otech Marine Services, ACSM, Enagas, ASTICAN, GS-Hydro, GSC, Zamakona Yards, Satocan and Tenerife Shipyards, among others. All these companies consider local suppliers as key partners in their maintenance.

Lastly, Canary Islands Suppliers has a choice portfolio of export companies in international expansion  and of companies in the Canary Islands that provide auxiliary services.

ICT industry and outsourcing

Information and communications technology (ICT)

Due to territorial fragmentation, the Canary Islands telecom industry has grown substantially. The need to stay in touch with the outside world has prompted public and private institutions in the Canary Islands to take part in ambitious plans and projects that keep the archipelago connected to the world.

The regional government has developed a specific program to implement new ICT technologies. Companies working in this field that want to set up or move their facilities to the Canary Islands can take advantage of a wide range of benefits.

Infrastructures and available resources:

⮚     There are several top-rated research centers at the international level that support the Canary Islands’ push for RDI policies. 

⮚     Three science and technology parks will take advantage of the synergies that stem from the convergence of technology companies in one space. Technology-based investment projects developed in the archipelago enjoy the full support of the regional government, which is firmly committed to diversifying the Canary Islands economy.

⮚     The leading research organizations, Canary Islands Institute of Astrophysics (IAC) and the Institute of Technology and Renewable Energies (ITER),  manage two of the ten most powerful supercomputers in Spain. The Teide HPC (High Performance Computing) is the second most powerful supercomputer in Spain and with its high processing capacity is available to researchers to improve and expand both the national and international scope of research.

⮚     The Canary Islands have highly skilled professionals, engineers and specialized professional training.

Other interesting opportunities in the Canary Islands include:

⮚     Digital Terrestrial Television (DTTV). Fully incorporated since 2010 when analogue television broadcasts ended. It has prompted the transition to new broadcast frequencies.

⮚     Mobile auxiliary services. With an above average mobile phone penetration rate for Spain and a highly competitive market, phone companies and operators must differentiate and segment their product.

⮚     Open-source software. Spain, and the Canary Islands in particular, offers an unbeatable scenario in which to develop business models based on free software, with a growing market and strong support from the public sector.


The Canary Islands are extremely attractive and offer genuine opportunities for companies that outsource professional services. The rewards of outsourcing in the Canary Islands include office space accessibility, favorable time zone in relation to most countries in continental Europe, highly skilled workforce with a command of languages and lower start-up costs.

The labor market is comprised largely of young and highly qualified people. The Canary Islands is among the autonomous regions with the highest rate of business activity in all of Spain (60.21%), lower rate of worker mobility, and a better command of languages (39 bilingual schools).

Two public universities in the Canary Islands, various vocational education and training specialties for call-center operations, and numerous research centers have produced highly competitive human resources. In addition, wage costs and employee turnover are lower than in the rest of Spain and the EU.

Add to that, generous tax deductions for RDI activities.  Furthermore, its geostrategic position as a bridge to north western Africa, where important consulting and integration systems projects are developing, give the archipelago a competitive advantage.

Logistics and transportation industry (logistics hub)

To be positioned in the Canary Islands means being closer to Africa and the Americas without leaving Europe. The archipelago is located 60 km from the west coast of Africa and a little over 1,000 km from the Spanish mainland. This makes it a key business platform that facilitates the interchange of commerce, services and technology between continents.

The modern infrastructures in the Canary Islands support success in business. There are eight airports on the islands, six of them international. The two busiest (Gran Canaria and Tenerife Norte) transported over 30 million passengers in 2018, and all of the airports combined handled more than 45 million passengers and 34,000 tons of cargo. There are 1,500 weekly air connections to Europe and several direct flights to Africa and Latin America. Madrid is only two and a half hours away; London, Frankfurt and Rome, four hours, and Caracas seven.

As for maritime transport, the archipelago is connected to nearly 500 ports worldwide, with more than 30 lines including the main logistics operators. The Canary Islands are recognized as the largest supply, ship repair and refuelling station in the mid-Atlantic, and among the top three in hydrocarbon logistics distribution.

A few benchmarks:

⮚     UNICEF, the International Red Cross and USAID have chosen the Canary Islands to set up their logistics base for urgent aid supplies to Africa, with only four such facilities in the world in operation.

⮚     The Canary Islands Port of Authority is part of a group of major international institutions in the industry like the International Cargo Handling Coordination Association (ICHCA) which, through the Canary Islands/Africa Regional Chapter, led by Canary Island organizations, aims to foster cooperation between the main ports on Africa’s west coast and the Canary Islands.

⮚     The Canary Islands is becoming one of the largest bunkering facilities in Europe to supply low sulphur fuel.

Technology industry

The technology industry makes full use of RDI, resulting in top-notch research in these fields.


 Biotechnology, healthcare and pharmaceuticals

The Canary Islands is considered a “macro laboratory” with vast reserves of natural resources and one of the world’s richest areas of biodiversity. It should be noted that 80% of Spain’s total biodiversity is concentrated in the small island territory that is the archipelago of the Canary Islands, where more than 14,000 land species, 600 endemic plants and 5,500 marine species are recorded.

The archipelago has been the leader in research and use of marine biotechnology since the 1980s. The Spanish Algae Bank, founded in 2006, has a collection of more than 1,500 strains. The main objectives of the BEA are to isolate, identify, describe, preserve and supply microalgae and cyanobacteria.

In addition to these services – typical of all microorganism collections – the Spanish Algae Bank also assists in promoting a new bioindustrial sector based on the cultivation and application of micro-algae and cyanobacteria.

Along similar lines, the Bioasis initiative consists of a series of actions aimed at developing marine biotechnology and fish farming, promoting experimental research and establishing companies on the island of Gran Canaria that identify with this industry.

*This initiative is promoted by the island council of Gran Canaria through the Gran Canaria Economic Promotion Society, in partnership with the Canary Islands Institute of Technology (ITC), the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria through the Spanish Algae Bank, the ECOAGUA University Institute and the ULPGC's Science and Technology Park Foundation.

It should be noted that the Canary Islands has a prestigious Faculty of Marine Sciences made up of numerous highly qualified professionals.

The Institute of Natural Products and Agrobiology (IPNA-CSIC) is part of the network of research centers of the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC), a state agency of the Ministry of Science, Innovation and Universities (MCIU).

IPNA’s covers everything from basic research to technological development and is distinguished for having been named by a commission of experts at the European Science Foundation as one of the best in the world in its field. This is the first Spanish center of its kind and is on the way to becoming a benchmark in Europe.

The Canary Islands also plays a key role in the field of minimally invasive surgery and image-guided medicine in Spain. Other noteworthy initiatives are in the field of bioengineering, developed by the Canary Islands Agency for Research, Innovation and the Information Society (ACIISI), the Canary Islands Foundation for Research and Health (FUNCIS), the Universities of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria and La Laguna, the Canary Islands University Hospital (Tenerife), the Doctor Negrín University Hospital and the Mother and Child Hospital Complex (Gran Canaria).

Optics, astrophysics and space technology

The Canary Islands archipelago is the base of the Canary Islands Institute of Astrophysics (IAC), a widely internationalized Spanish research center which is also responsible for operating the Teide (Izaña, Tenerife) and Roque de los Muchachos (Garafía, La Palma) observatories.

The excellent astronomical quality of the sky above the Canary Islands mountains, protected by law, and the application of international agreements, has resulted in over 70 scientific institutions from 19 countries supporting these observatories with telescopes and instruments.

Much of the technology used in its research activities is developed by the IAC itself. Thanks to the experience and know-how acquired from its participation in space projects as pioneers in Spain, the IAC has, over time, achieved a high level of expertise in crucial areas of knowledge and technology in the development of advanced instrumentation. This experience has been reinforced with the launch of what is currently the largest and most advanced optical/infrared astrophysics telescope: Gran Telescopio CANARIAS (GTC). Furthermore, with this project, Spanish companies have become most highly skilled in these technologies. With its installation at the Roque de los Muchachos Observatory, observatories in the Canary Islands have remained at the forefront internationally.

In addition to its participation in the GTC, the IAC actively takes part in the most important international projects and initiatives in astrophysics.

The IAC is currently a major center for research and technology development - among the first of its kind in the world - capable of leading the scientific, technological and cultural development of the “Canary Islands sky” to the advantage of all. It has proven to be an excellent tool not only by enabling the national and international scientific community to use the observatories, but also as way to fully leverage Spain's scientific and technical development.

With regard to space technology, the INTA’s (National Institute for Aerospace Technology) Canary Islands Space Center (CEC), at the southern end of the island of Gran Canaria is, according to experts, ideally situated to support satellite launches, telecommand, Earth observation data, life-saving search and rescue alerts detected by Cospas-Sarsat satellites, and geostationary communications satellites. The center has supported many international space missions.