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Key figures on the BioRegion

The BioRegion of Catalonia is made up of 871 companies (249 biotechnology, 51 pharmaceutical, 89 innovative medical technology, 91 healthtech, 218 suppliers and engineering firms, 144 consulting and professional services and 29 active investment organizations) and 95 research bodies, including 41 research centers, 18 university hospitals, 14 science and technology parks, 12 universities offering biosciences degrees, 7 technology centers and 3 large-scale facilities like the ALBA Synchrotron, the Barcelona Supercomputing Center (BSC) and the Centro Nacional de Análisis Genómico (CNAG-CRG). The companies in the sector post yearly turnover of €15.956 billions and employ 42,133 workers.

Xifres BioRegio Catalunya

A strategic economic sector for Catalonia

  • Despite being one of the smallest countries in Europe by population, Catalonia is among the four European countries with more companies in the health sector per capita. Specifically, is the first largest pharmaceutical companies per capita in Europe. Catalonia is also the 3rd European country in biotechnology companies per capita (behind Sweden and Switzerland) and 4th in medical technology companies (behind Sweden, Switzerland an Denmark).
  • Since 2010, 1 new companies has been set up in the BioRegion each week on average.
  • Catalonia is the leading region in Spain in the number of biotechnology companies and businesses that use biotechnology (followed by Madrid and Andalusia). The BioRegion has 259 biotechnology companies.
  • The BioRegion has 51 pharmaceutical companies and is the origin and headquarters of large corporations in the sector like Almirall, Esteve, Ferrer, Grífol, Bioibèrica, Lacer, Reig Jofré and Uriach. Catalonia also has some of the most important multinational biopharmaceutical companies, like Amgen, Novartis, Sanofi, Roche, Bayer, B.Braun, Boehringer Ingelheim, Chiesi, Hartmann, Lundbeck and Menarini.
  • Catalonia has 194 medical technology companies, of which 89 research, develop, manufacture and market medical devices and systems named “innovative”, and 91 companies working in digital health
  • Catalonia has 29 investment bodies, iincluding specialize in the sector such as Caixa Capital Risc, Ysios Capital, Inveready and HealthEquity, or the last being created, Alta Life Sciences
  • Between 2015 and first 2017, companies in the BioRegion attracted more than €165 millions in investment,a 55% higher than the investment attracted between 2013 and 2015.
  • 2016 was the most successful year for investment in the BioRegion by far, with more than €101 millions, thanks to rounds of investment such as the one of STAT- Diagnostica (€25 millions), Oryzon Genomics (€16 millions), Aelix Therapeutics (€11.5 millions) and AB Biotics (€11.2 millions).
  • The companies in the sector post yearly turnover of €15.956 billions, 7.1% of the GDP of Catalonia [1] and employ 42,133 workers.
  • 92% of companies in the BioRegion are SMEs. In recent years the number of micro-companies has increased considerably due to the creation of start-ups in the field of life sciences and health.


A reference in international scientific excellence

  • The BioRegion has 95 research bodies and facilities:  41 research centers (32 of which are CERCA centers), 18 university hospitals, 12 universities that offer life sciences degrees; 3 large science facilities (ALBA Synchrotron, the Barcelona Supercomputing Center and the Centro Nacional de Análisis Genómico); 7 technology centers and 14 science and technology parks with activity in the life sciences
  • The BioRegion hosts 780 research groups working in 41 research institutes, some of them considered as the best of the world in their field. This is the case for the Centre for Genomic Regulation (CRG, ranked ninth in the top 100 best biomedical centres in the world, according to Scimago Report); the Institute of Photonic Sciences (ICFO) and the Institute of Chemical Research of Catalonia (ICIQ), among top world institutions in physics and in chemistry, respectively, according to Max Planck Institute..
  • Catalonia contributes 3.15% of all European scientific production in the health and life sciences, 1% of all global scientific production.
  • With 1.2% of the population of the European Research Area, Catalonia has captured 3.3% of the grants awarded by the European Research Council (ERC), 35% of which go to life sciences.
  • In Catalonia, there are 43,898 people working in R&D (in all sectors), 25,474 of which are researchers. One in five researchers (21%) in Spain work in Catalonia.
  • Catalonia has 41 research centers and 780 research groups in the healthcare and life sciences. The 41 research centers working in the biosciences and related fields have a joint total of more than 10,000 people on staff, 5,660 of which are researchers. Some of these centers are global leaders in their fields: examples include genomics, with the CRG (ranked 9th among global biomedical centers), and photonics, with the ICFO (best institution in the world in physics).
  • Between 1992 and 2016, 111 life sciences spin-offs were created, 95 of which are still active (2016).
  • The 12 Catalan universities that offer health and life sciences degrees graduate 5,500 students each year. Three of these universities (UAB, UPF and UB) are among the top 200 in the world (Times Higher Education ranking, 2015). 
  • The Catalan hospital system has 200 establishments, 18 of which are university hospitals. As a whole, these centers employ more than 90,000 workers. The excellence of the Catalan hospitals is world renowned and this, along with the quality accommodations available, makes Catalonia a booming destination for what is known as medical tourism.


Areas of excellence

  • Catalonia has unique capacities in genomics and structural biology and stands out in areas like medical chemistry, nanomedicine, omic sciences, bioinformatics and big data. Also noteworthy are its capacities in oncology research, covering the whole value chain from basic research through highly specialized companies and hospitals that play an important role in clinical and translational research.
  • The health system in Catalonia and the excellence of its hospitals is world renowned in fields like oncology, thoracic and cardiac surgery, kidney transplants and ophthalmologic surgery.
  • The main therapeutic areas in which biotech and pharma companies work are cancer (often focusing on rare diseases) and neoplasms, dermatology, infectious diseases, and diseases of the nervous system and the respiratory system.
  • In terms of medical technology, their main areas of activity are producing reusable instruments, dental devices and electromagnetic devices.
  • Quality, safety, fast recruitment of patients and competitive costs make the BioRegion the location of choice for clinical trials. More trials are carried out here than in any other region of Spain, mainly in oncology, and in Phase II (17%) and III (44%). 


[1]  Estimated amount taking into account the GDP of industry (biopharma, medtech and digital health companies) plus the healthcare activities (general and specialized hospitals, and centres and institutes that provide medical treatments)


Sources: 2015 Biocat Report, Biocat Directory, Generalitat of Catalonia, SAVI, ACRI and Central de Resultats de Recerca en Ciències de la Salut