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This February, Biocat hosted Tech Transfer Day, the second annual meeting of Technology Transfer Offices in Catalonia, with over 65 people from the sector attending. Mainly from research and technology centers, universities, hospitals and healthcare research institutes in Catalonia, in order to raise awareness of what they need to bring health technology to the market.

The event, held at CosmoCaixa in Barcelona, featured presentations of three success stories from the BioRegion of Catalonia: Swan MedicalIntegra Therapeutics and Mimark.  Dr. Joan Francesc Julián, chief of General and Digestive Surgery at Germans Trias i Pujol University Hospital and co-founder of Swan Medical; Carles Taulé, project manager at Integra Therapeutics; and Marina Rigau, CEO and co-founder of Mimark, shared a table with innovation management and investor companies to speak about the challenges of early stage investment in Catalonia

One of the main topics discussed was the lack of connection between startups or projects and investment funds. Laura Rodríguez, principal at Invivo Capital, said that Technology Transfer Offices need to be more proactive: “We’re often the ones who have to go to conferences or stay up-to-date on the latest papers to find interesting projects or companies.” One solution to this issue would be to “scout for projects with a good portfolio and speak with the research staff to build their innovation together,” pointed out Carlos López, director of business development at the Vall d’Hebron Institute of Oncology (VHIO). For Marina Rigau, however, the key lies in “being less protective of our projects and showing them off so that good ideas don’t end up shoved in a drawer.”

This disconnect between different stakeholders in the ecosystem is even more pronounced at hospitals, “where surgeons have very good ideas but not time or a relationship with research staff and the innovation department,” explained Dr. Joan Francesc Julián. In an attempt to rectify this situation, Lurdes Jordi, director of Innovation at Bosch i Gimpera Foundation (FBG-UB), suggested that universities be the ones to foster these connections: “It has to be the universities that connect practical research and clinical research,” she said.

Another aspect debated in this first session was the funding model startups or projects need. “Each project needs a specific funding model. There are projects that may be very good but their impact and risk are moderate, so they aren’t something for venture capitalists,” explained Clara Campàs, managing partner and co-founder of Asabys. On the other hand, Carles Taulé spoke about the differences between public grants and private capital: “A startup needs public grants specifically for companies, but venture capital gives you a speed of growth you can’t find elsewhere.” 

Biocat Director of Innovation and Business Development Núria Martí, Invivo Capital Principal Laura Rodríguez, Asabys Managing Partner and co-founder Clara Campàs, Mimark CEO and co-founder Marina Rigau, Integra Therapeutics Project Manager Carles Taulé, Swan Medical co-founder Dr. Joan Francesc Julián, Vall d’Hebron Institute of Oncology (VHIO) Director of Business Development Carlos López, Bosch i Gimpera Foundation (FBG-UB) Director of Innovation Lurdes Jordi and Biocat CEO Robert Fabregat.

Afterwards there was a session on “Techniques for negotiating offers in technology transfer” given by Kandarp Mehta, senior lecturer at IESE Business School. “Any negotiation in the business world is based on trust. So negotiating means giving power to someone else and thinking they won’t use it,” explained Kandarp Mehta. He also stressed the importance of preparing for a negotiation and gave some tips, including: “Have a safety net, an alternative, that can give you more negotiating power with investors.”

Kandarp Mehta, senior lecturer at IESE Business School

At this event, Biocat took advantage to share its strategic projects and, in general, those of the whole BioRegion of Catalonia, including the advanced therapies hub. Others included the entrepreneurship and acceleration programs like d·HEALTH Barcelona Part Time and CRAASH Barcelona, as well as Biocat’s new “Invest BioRegion Portal”, which facilitates virtual interactions between investors and international companies and the portfolio of investable and licensable opportunities from research centers, universities and hospitals, as well as the whole ecosystem of startups in the BioRegion of Catalonia.

Barcelona Health Innovation Week, a week dedicated to innovation

Tech Transfer Day was held as part of the first Barcelona Health Innovation Week, a week organized by Biocat focusing on innovation, acceleration, technology and transformation in the healthcare sector. So, from February 13 to 16, various organizations in the BioRegion of Catalonia are hosting webinars, presentations, talks, debates and networking activities.

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