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2020 Biocat Report: looking back on a historic year

Biocat acted quickly in all its means of communication, connection, acceleration and projection to respond in a way worthy of the sector at a time known globally as “the great acceleration”.

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21.07.2021

For an organization like Biocat, whose mission is to maximize the social and economic impact of the healthcare innovation ecosystem in Catalonia, 2020 provided a huge push to acceleration and an important challenge in leveraging the hard work and activity carried out by the BioRegion’s research and innovation stakeholders. The Biocat Report of Activities, published in July, presents a range of programs and calls launched or adapted specifically to combat the impact of Covid-19, as well as the projects and activities we devoted the most resources to or that had a notable impact, based on the organization’s strategic priorities. In this regard, 2020 was a key year in defining and gaining approval from the Board of Trustees for the new Strategic Plan to follow over the next three years (2020-2023). The plan identifies the following strategic focal points: 1) promoting technology transfer, talent development and acceleration; 2) being an expert voice regarding the challenges and proposals of the sector, providing strategic support to the administration and other entities in the ecosystem; 3) projecting and positioning the BioRegion and its stakeholders internationally to help attract investment, foster international connections and boost international influence on sector policies.

As the Honorable President Aragonès said in his preface to the report, “...Biocat’s merit is inseparable from the skills, talents and initiative of the research and innovation institutions in Catalonia... [and] this latest period has only reinforced [its] positive influence, dynamizing, connecting, promoting and activating all the organizations and stakeholders in the ecosystem to help ensure maximum impact of the research and innovation in the life sciences and healthcare that comes out of Catalonia.” 

This is a selection of the priorities and activities you’ll find in this report, which the team has worked on over the past year, and on which you can find more information here.

 

Driving technology transfer, talent and acceleration

Biocat, in its mission, has positioned itself as a unifying element for research and innovation from its origin (universities, centers, hospitals, etc.) through to when the innovation reaches the business fabric. To do so, the organization developed, dynamized and, above all, adapted to the context programs and activities between talent and acceleration in every aspect of the innovation and technology transfer process. 

Below is a brief look at the main programs and projects from 2020 under this focal point:

This was one of Biocat’s star projects in 2020. Throughout the pandemic, Biocat worked to raise awareness in the ecosystem of all the projects and initiatives being carried out during the most tumultuous months of the healthcare crisis. So, as of October, there were more than 60 research projects underway in Catalonia on Covid-19. 

With this in mind, and in order to boost visibility and collaboration among stakeholders in the ecosystem, Biocat hosted a virtual workshop on the Covid projects in the BioRegion of Catalonia called: Chasing COVID. In total, 229 people (196 online and 33 speakers and organizers) connected virtually to debate and learn more about the Catalan Covid projects.

In 2020, Moebio launched the third edition of CRAASH Barcelona, the 12-week acceleration program promoted by Biocat, CIMIT and EIT Health to help researchers and entrepreneurs from Catalonia and other European countries launch healthtech innovations to market.

The third edition received 20% more applications than the previous year. In total, there were 78 applicants from 21 countries. Finally, 11 teams were chosen (6 Catalan and 5 non-Catalan), of which 6 were projects and 5 were startups.

This year was also the 7th edition of the d·HEALTH Barcelona fellowship, which was clearly marked by the Covid-19 crisis. 

Initially, participants began the first weeks of their clinical immersions at Bellvitge University Hospital, Germans Trias i Pujol University Hospital and Vall d’Hebron University Hospital, but they had to stop due to the Covid-19 healthcare crisis. Despite the situation, Biocat pivoted the program to have participants focus their efforts on identifying current and future needs associated with the pandemic, and propose solutions to address them through a virtual clinical immersion adapted to the conditions.

In 2020, we hosted the 5th edition of Health & Bio Team Dating, an event that aims to boost the Catalan bioentrepreneurial environment by bringing science and business together. Despite the pandemic, 79 meetings were held, with 16 projects from life sciences and healthcare research groups and 35 executives interested in contributing their expertise in business management and strategy. 

The 3rd edition of this program, like most events, was held using a fully virtual format. The Open Innovation Forum is a program that allows companies to share their innovation challenges and get proposals from research groups and centers. In total, 23 companies and 101 problem-solvers (including research centers -both academic and independent- and technology centers) participated in the program, holding 134 meetings to attempt to resolve the 52 innovation challenges the companies posed.

Biocat and CataloniaBio & HealthTechh launched the Pitch Training program specifically for projects and startups to improve the pitch they give investors, corporate venture capitalists and scouts from the life sciences and healthcare sector. The program had to be held online due to the pandemic, renamed the E-Pitch Training Program.

There were 16 groups that took part in the program and, according to the post-training survey, they all rated it very highly. 

 

Own voice and strategic influence

With the goal of helping dynamize and maximize the visibility of the stakeholders in the system, generating a sense of belonging and facilitating interactions that have a positive impact on their activity, Biocat rolled out a series of actions in a difficult year, on its own or in coordination with the right partners, to reinforce and guarantee the BioRegion’s good reputation on a local, national and international level.

One of the sector proposals Biocat provided strategic support to the administration on was the that the Catalan Ministry of Health launched through the Department of Research and Innovation (DGRIS), with collaboration from Biocat, to fund 19 research and innovation projects to prevent and treat Covid-19. 

Plus, throughout the year, Biocat has worked hard on projection to respond in a way worthy of the sector. Below are the main tools Biocat used to disseminate the activity of the BioRegion over the past year, as well as indicators on mentions in media outlets, on websites and on social media.

 

International positioning and influence

Biocat’s third strategic pillar is actions to position and boost the international influence of the BioRegion. In this line, in 2020, actions were carried out to continue forging new alliances with the main European and international stakeholders, to project and raise awareness among the international community of the assets and potential of public and private entities in the BioRegion and to connect our ecosystem with international markets and environments that are key in the life sciences and healthcare sector. 

Although we had to cancel or postpone missions and events designed to boost the business development opportunities for our companies, it was an intense year in terms of our participation in events to project the ecosystem, providing virtual services to visitors and delegations, activity with European alliances and networks, participation in European projects and consortia, and participation in workgroups to respond to the pandemic.