I've been spending the last two years trying to infiltrate the high-tech scene here in Barcelona. The sad thing is that it is pathetically small. Everyone knows everyone else because, well, there's not a whole lot of us.
Ironically, there's actually quite a bit of money available from the local venture capital, but they can't find anyone worthwhile to spend it on.
Local talent is very immature and senior leadership is few and far between.
For a vibrant high tech center, you really cannot build it from home grown talent. I've worked in Silicon Valley and the number of people that I met who were actually from that area was very small. Large multinationals (Google, MS, Intel, etc) are the magnets that can bring in enough talent to create a self-sustaining ecosystem.
Unfortunately, Catalunya's pissing match with the central government has created an environment that most multinationals don't want to deal with. The system of enchufe also means that your choice between Barcelona and Madrid is a matter of "taking sides", so Madrid is really the safe choice, since Madrid enchufe is really going to be what makes it happen, rather than those jokers in the Generalitat. Oh maybe they'll put a sales office in Barcelona for those juicy government deals. Other than that, they pretty much steer clear of Catalunya.
The fact is, if you set up your main office in Barcelona, you will not be able to recruit people from anywhere else in Spain. Whereas in Madrid, it's trivial to recruit from anywhere in Spain. In addition, Madrid is a gateway into South America, which provides incredible growth opportunities in the emerging markets. Catalunya tries to do its own thing, but mostly ends up confusing foreigners who don't understand the local politics. It's too bad, because Catalunya used to have great connections to South America (ie habaneras)
It's been sad for me to meet very talented people and then have to say goodbye to them after they get frustrated from the lack of seriousness here. My situation is weird enough that none of this bothers me too much, so I'm still here :)
Just to be clear, it's pretty easy to recruit young smart people from all around the world to Barcelona. It's one of the big plusses. However, trying to get high level experienced folks to move here is a nightmare, even from other parts of Spain. Remember, these people are not the desperate ones, but the people who could get a job anywhere they want.
The newsweek article "Silicon Envy" is a good description of the various failures around Europe to create the next silicon valley.