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The first edition of the accelerator opened on November 24 at an event presided over by mayor Ada Colau and the Rector of the University of Barcelona Joan Guàrdia, along with Biocat, as a partner of this initiative.

Five spinoffs and six startups comprise the eleven projects chosen to be part of the first edition of the BCN Health Booster accelerator, the initiative driven by the University of Barcelona Science Park and the Barcelona City Council in conjunction with Barcelona Activa and Biocat

The companies chosen out of a total of 19 candidacies submitted are: Aptadel Therapeutics (spinoff), Artificial Nature (startup), Bioliquid Innovative Genetics (startup), DeepUll (startup), GAT Biosciences (startup), GAT Therapeutics (startup), MiMARK (spinoff), Nuage Therapeutics (spinoff), Ona Therapeutics (spinoff), Oncoheroes Biosciences (startup) and OneChain (spinoff). 

Of them, 7 are in the phase of discovering therapeutic products, 3 are developing diagnostic tools for different diseases and 1 is designing biomaterials for the healthcare sector. More than half (64%) work in the field of oncology. The 11 companies have raised initial funding to the tune of €43 million. Excluding the €30 million round that Ona Therapeutics has raised, each company has initial capital of between €0.6 million and €3.5 million to move their projects forward. International investors have participated in the funding rounds higher than €1.5 million already raised, which is in line with the Catalan sector's increasing ability to attract foreign investment. In terms of talent, there is a notable presence of women in all the projects, as 55% are led by women as either the founders (Ona Therapeutics, MiMark and GatBiosciences) or as C-level suite members: Chief Scientific Officer (CSO), Chief Technological Officer (CTO) or Chief Financial Officer (CFO).

During the event, a guided tour of the Barcelona Science Park (PCB) facilities was held. The program will allow 7 of these 11 companies to be housed in the new PCB spaces and to access a new laboratory, while the other 4 will remain in their current spaces. They will all participate in the acceleration program offered by Biocat, which is slated to begin in January 2022. 

In her speech, Colau pointed out that “Barcelona is an indisputable power in science and production in life sciences and healthcare. We are the scientific capital of Spain and the 4th-ranked city in the publication of research in the EU.” 

Other representatives from the City Council also attended, including the First Deputy Mayor and Catalan Minister for Economy, Labor, Competitiveness and Treasury, Jaume Collboni; the Sixth Deputy Mayor and Catalan Minister for Culture, Education, Science and Community, Jordi Martí; Biocat CEO, Robert Fabregat; the General Manager of Barcelona Activa, Felix Ortega; and the Director of the Barcelona Science Park. 

In turn, Collboni highlighted Biocat's role as a key stakeholder in building this public-private alliance: “There was a need for those in Catalonia who know how to do it and know how to do it best to align with us to make it possible. There was the vision, the determination and the alliances to get things done.” 

The role of Biocat 

For three years, the companies will also have access to a Biocat business mentorship program totally adapted to the needs and challenges that each of them is facing during this period. It will include mentorship and personalized consulting; training (customer delivery, intellectual property, market access and regulatory affairs, etc.); and advice on access to funding, such as developing pitch training, the one-pager and the brochure, along with participation in the Health & Bio Team Dating and Investment Readiness Series (TIRS) programs.

On this point, Robert Fabregat noted that “there is no other accelerator in Barcelona that promotes a comprehensive business mentorship program including access to laboratory spaces and offers mentoring that is fully adapted to the needs, mentorship and personalized consulting, plus training and advice on attracting funding”. He also added that acceleration and talent development is one of Biocat's strategic lines that has to continue to be promoted. 

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