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Catalonia has become a reference point in Europe for research in biotechnology, biomedicine and medical technology and this sector is experiencing high growth year after year, with a huge demand for specialized professionals.

According to the Biotechnology and Biomedical Employment Trends Report, created by Biocat with collaboration from Adecco and the initiative of Barcelona Activa, which was presented yesterday at the symposium organized by the Porta22 Professional Development Center, the most in-demand profiles are in marketing –above all with an international profile to compete in a global market–, project management and strategic management.

Biocat has organized this demand into sixty descriptive files on the different professional profiles, which present “new opportunities for people who have just finished their studies as well as those who want to reorient their career,” explained Biocat director of Innovation, Marta Príncep, who directed the study. “The biotechnology sector in general, and biomedicine in particular, is acyclic. This makes it a good refuge sector in the current economic climate, as well as the high demand for professionals,” said Príncep. These files can be seen online on the Porta22 website.

Current employment

There are a total of 669 biotechnology and related companies in Spain, according to the 2009 Genoma España report. More than 25% of these are found in Catalonia and the Biocat Directory has identified 65 biotech companies, 70 pharma companies and 150 related companies.

The sectorial report presented yesterday shows that a significant part of the population employed in this sector works in some sort of research-related activity. In Spain there is a total of 130,966 researchers, which is 6.5% of the working population. In Catalonia, there 25,063 people who work in this activity, 7.6% of the working population.

Regarding R&D in biotechnology, 5,228 people worked in this field in Spain in 2008, 2,946 were researchers and 2,282 were technicians or assistants. Catalonia employed around 1,200 people in biotechnology research in 2008, while R&D in the pharmaceutical sector accounted for some 2,300 workers, 51% of the Spanish total.

The most common degrees found in R&D departments in the biotech sector in Catalonia are chemistry and biology, with 44% and 22%, respectively.

Most in-demand professions

Currently, the most in-demand professions are related to the pharmaceutical marketing area, the position of medical advisor in clinical development and, in basic scientific research, those related to genetic analysis, both biological and computer-based. Moreover, demand is currently growing for advisors that know the business model and have experience in the global market, as well as project managers to help scientists internationalize and use their patents and licenses to create new companies.

Professionals in the sector that work in research and business management normally hold graduate degrees, like masters, PhDs and post-doctoral degrees. Professionals with lower-level degrees, which normally hold more technical positions, have bachelors and higher professional training degrees.

“In addition to formal studies —specified Marta Príncep— there is high demand in this market for specific skills, which can meet the particular needs of the sector. Global thinking, strategic vision and the ability to think outside the box are all valued highly.”

Spain and Catalonia have an excellent network of science facilities. The combination of science and technology parks and investment in research centers and institutes give research here high standards of excellence and an important index of start-ups in the biotechnology and biomedicine fields. All of this makes Catalonia a focal point for the generation of wealth and expert employment in Spain and Europe.

The sector is experiencing a growing rate of company start-ups. In 2008, 30% of all companies were start-ups. This reality, according to the report, is the result of a highly entrepreneuring mentality and of new business opportunities and research niches, which have led many public institutions, entrepreneurs and private companies to start up new companies. “The investment and dedication put into this sector ten years ago to drive top-notch research is starting to pay off. Funding instruments, particularly for the first stages of development (seed capital) have also been created. New companies and research centers have worked as magnets to attract talent and science parks have played a key role in the incubation of new companies,” explained Príncep.


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