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Key figures on the BioRegion

The BioRegion of Catalonia, the Catalan healthcare and life sciences sector, has more than 1,300 companies and 91 research organizations. This sector generates €37.689 million each year, makes up 8.7% of the gross domestic product (GDP) and 8% of all employment in Catalonia, with more than 244,000 workers. In terms of GDP and population, Catalonia is comparable to EU countries like Sweden, Belgium, Denmark, Austria and Ireland, and the BioRegion's even surpasses these countries in some of the indicators of research success. Over the past three years, the number of foreign investors in the BioRegion of Catalonia has almost doubled, Financial Times has selected Catalonia as the best Southern European region for investment in 2020-2021.

Panoràmica ciutat de Barcelona

A strategic sector for Catalonia

  • The BioRegion of Catalonia, the Catalan healthcare and life sciences sector, generates €37.689 million each year and makes up 8.7% of the Catalan gross domestic product (GDP). In total, more than 244,000 people are employed in the sector, roughly 8% of all those working in Catalonia
  • The BioRegion of Catalonia has more than 1,300 companies and 91 research organizations41 research centers (32 of which are CERCA), 19 university hospitals, 12 universities that offer life sciences studies, 3 large scientific infrastructures (the ALBA synchrotron, the Barcelona Supercomputing Center, and the National Center for Analysis and Genomics ); 2 technology centers and 14 science and technology parks with activities in life sciences.


A dynamic industry

  • The BioRegion of Catalonia has 1,300 life and health sciences companies. Since 2010, on average, a new one has been created every week, and one in four spinoffs has emerged from organizations and research centers.
  • With the latest available turnover data (2020), companies in the BioRegion reached € 21,333M, with an average annual growth of 4% in the last 5 years.
  • Of the 1,300 companies in the BioRegion of Catalonia, the largest group is made up of the 335 companies in the biotechnology sector, 76 of which are aimed at the production of new therapies and diagnostic tools, 141 offer R&D services and 118 work in applications in other fields (such as veterinary, industrial biotechnology, food, agriculture or the environment). In addition, the BioRegion has 228 medical technology companies (132 as its main activity and 96 as specialized suppliers and distributors), 124 companies in the pharmaceutical sector (63 pharmaceutical and 61 specialized suppliers and distributors), and 203 product companies or healthtech services.
  • In recent years, the digital health sector has experienced rapid growth. With more than 200 companies in 2021, the investment has gone from € 5.1 million in 2016 to € 63 million in 2021. However, in 2020, biotechnology companies developing therapies broke a record with 15 new ones. startups of this type.
  • The bulk of the sector's business fabric is made up of SMEs, which account for 92% of the total. Of these, 78% are micro and small businesses, and the remaining 14% are medium-sized. The evolution of the size of the companies has remained stable in recent years.
  •  In terms of location, the strong concentration of companies in the province of Barcelona stands out, with 91% of the total.


Destination of international investment

  • Venture capital has been the main investment channel in 2021, accumulating €187.4M (34% more than in 2020) in 36 operations (14% less). Regarding investment with international participation, 4 out of 10 rounds have had foreign participation, representing 62% of the total venture capital invested by funds mainly from Europe and the United States.
  • This international participation has spurred private capital investment, stock market and crowdequity, which accumulated €197 million, breaking the €100m barrier for the second time in a year.
  • The investment ecosystem in the BioRegion of Catalonia is becoming more and more solid. In addition to specialized local investors operating in Catalonia such as Ysios Capital, Caixa Capital Risc, Asabys Partners, Alta Partners, Inveready, InVivo, or Nina Capital, the BioRegion of Catalonia has seen a spectacular growth of international investors who are committed to companies in the fields of life sciences and health. In the last three years, the number has almost doubled​.
  • For the third year in a row, the Financial Times has recognized Catalonia as the best region in southern Europe to invest in for 2020-2021


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.
  • Catalonia is currently participating in over 1,200 active clinical trials to test new therapies and drugs in patients. If we compare this figure on a European level, Catalonia ranks 6th in number of participations in trials and 8th worldwide, only behind large countries like the United States (9,532), Canada (1,905), France (1,896), United Kingdom (1,633), Spain (1,595), Germany (1,583) and Italy (1,460). Moreover, Catalan centers take part in 75% of all active trials carried out in Spain.
  • In terms of therapeutic areas, Catalonia excels in conducting clinical trials in a wide variety of specialized fields, but one specialty stands out in particular: oncology, which accounts for 65.5% of all clinical trials with Catalan participation, followed by cardiovascular diseases (15.7%), dermatology (13.4%), nervous system diseases (7.8%) and ophthalmology (7.8%).
  • The healthcare system in Catalonia and the excellence of its hospitals are world renowned in the fields of oncology, thoracic and cardiac surgery, kidney transplants and ophthalmologic surgery.
  • The main therapeutic areas of the Catalan biotech and pharma companies are: cancer (often oriented with rare diseases) and neoplasms, dermatology, infectious diseases, the nervous system, the respiratory, digestive and genitourinary systems.
  • The pipeline of biotech and pharma companies in the BioRegion has more than 50 drugs and therapies in clinical development, 15 of which are in phase II/III.
  • Regarding medical technology, the main areas of activity are electromechanical devices, single-use devices, dental implants and reusable instruments.  Among digital health companies, those working in digital therapies, drug R&D and clinical decision support stand out.