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The year 2020 was historic for the healthtech sector in the BioRegion, with some of the most significant rounds of funding and many companies seeing huge acceleration, driven in some cases by the forced digitalization of health and medical care due to the pandemic. In fact, the latest report from Dealroom, Inkef Capital and MTIP highlights Barcelona as one of the strongest European ecosystems in healthtech, alongside other important hubs like Paris, Stockholm, Berlin and Zurich. 

In this context, it shouldn’t be a surprise that the Catalan capital was chosen as one of the five European cities to host European Health Tech Innovation Week this year, with Liverpool, Paris, Berlin and Stockholm. On Friday, May 21, the GIANT Health congress landed in Barcelona, where Biocat, along with the Barcelona City Council and ACCIÓ, showcased the capacities of the life sciences and healthcare ecosystem in Catalonia and, in particular, the community of startups and healthtech investors. 

The program featured Biocat CEO Jordi Naval and Scientific and International Relations Director Montserrat Daban, as well as Xavier Mayo, head of City Promotion Abroad for the Barcelona City Council, and Roger Costa, FDI deputy director of Catalonia Trade & Investment (ACCIÓ). All four took part in several sessions that shared the same goal: to showcase the assets, capacities and potential of the BioRegion and of Barcelona as one of the most competitive, fast-growing ecosystems in Europe. 

The attractiveness of the BioRegion

In terms of the contents of the sessions, Montserrat Daban highlighted the city’s entrepreneurial talent and mindset, and accentuated Barcelona’s main features (research institutes, hospitals, support organizations, business schools, investors, etc.) “to continue growing, tackle society’s future challenges and provide a niche of opportunities for entrepreneurs.” 

For his part, Biocat CEO Jordi Naval also turned the spotlight on the value of biomedical research produced in the BioRegion. “Barcelona is ninth among European cities in terms of scientific production, ahead of well-known capitals like Stockholm and Copenhagen, and has indicators on par with Belgium and Sweden”, he noted. 

The participation of international investors has also grown in recent years. So much so that there are currently 73 foreign investors that specialize in the life sciences and healthcare in Catalonia (compared to just a dozen in 2015) and, according to Naval’s predictions, “this number could increase x7 over the coming years.” 

For his part, Roger Costa highlighted Barcelona’s competitiveness in terms of industry, attracting foreign investment, rates, visas, taxation and other opportunities for business landing, and Xavier Mayo focused on Barcelona’s complementarity in terms of the location, transportation links, mobility, attractiveness, and quality of life of the city as a whole.  

Noteworthy local success stories: HumanITcare, Doctoralia, Mediktor and Methinks

The conference program featured several slots to pitch to investors and to showcase specific examples of the ecosystem’s success, which featured startups like HumanITcareDoctoraliaMediktor and Methinks  explaining their history and the main benefits or characteristics of Barcelona from various points of view.

Núria Pastor, co-founder of HumanITcare, a platform for remote patient monitoring, highlighted the fact that the BioRegion offers the chance to work closely with hospitals and to get European competitive funding. These two values were also highlighted by Frederic Llordachs, co-founder of Doctoralia, a digital platform that connects doctors and patients, who also noted the ease of finding qualified personnel and establishing connections with other countries and continents.   

Pau Rodríguez, CEO of Methinks, software that can quickly diagnose a stroke, emphasized key ideas like learning, joint problem-solving, leadership and knowledge of regulatory issues, and highlighted the importance of connecting with the right people in order to navigate the ecosystem and grow the company, beyond the clinical space your technology occupies. 

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