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The Government of Catalonia submitted a proposal for the NextGenerationEU funds to develop an emerging therapies and personalized medicine hub as a recovery and resilience plan to counteract the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. It was one of the three focal points of the ‘Health 2030’ project, which sought to mobilize €2 billion to promote the ecosystem’s industry and pipeline, consolidate and scale up the innovative fabric in the BioRegion and transform the health system in Catalonia. 

One year later, Biocat brought together stakeholders in the ecosystem for the presentation of the 2021 BioRegion Report, and emphasized this commitment to the hub in a session moderated by CEO Robert Fabregat. The panel featured Mariona Sanz, general director of European Funds for the Government of Catalonia; Fina Lladós, CEO of Amgen; Toni Andreu, scientific director of EATRIS; Joan Comella, Secretary of ACER (Catalan Association of Research Centers); and Ignasi Biosca, CEO of Reig Jofre

The participants conveyed the need to consolidate this joint country-building project, for which Catalonia has the essential ingredients of research bodies, industry, hospitals and healthcare system. All the speakers highlighted the need for more collaboration among stakeholders: “The ecosystem is strong, but it needs more alliances between private and public stakeholders; all the stakeholders involved need to reach an agreement,” Joan Comella said, and Mariona Sanz seconded. “We are moving towards personalized, egalitarian, universal, sustainable, digitalized healthcare,” stressed the general director of European Funds, who also called for the process to rely more on research centers and hospitals to help build this business fabric. 

Nevertheless, this collaboration among the various stakeholders in the system isn’t the only challenge to be tackled. To position the BioRegion as a global benchmark in this field, Toni Andreu suggested an approach with a competitive vision: “We have to go from a receptive narrative to a proactive narrative. This will help bring the BioRegion to the table for sector dialogs and make it an important stakeholder from a European perspective.” 

Fina Lladós, for her part, underscored the attractiveness of the hub, as long as the innovations end up reaching patients. “We’ve seen that the regions that put technology to the service of patients are much more attractive”, and as Ignasi Biosca warned, “Adoption of technology continues to be a challenge for us.” 

NextGenerationEU funds: a great opportunity, but not the only one

At the session, the speakers also looked at the role the NextGenerationEU funds will play in creating the hub. Fina Lladós described it as a “unique opportunity” and Joan Comella as a resource that must be used “as a catalyst and to consolidate changes in the sector”. However, the panelists also highlighted that this project mustn’t depend on European aid. Fina Lladós called on the Administration to provide more incentives for startups and more grants and tax benefits to attract investment.

Robert Fabregat concluded the event by calling for a pooling of strategic support, in Catalonia, Spain and Europe, in order to position Catalonia as the leading European hub and global benchmark in emerging therapies and personalized medicine, and for all stakeholders and institutions to get involved in rolling out this joint commitment. 

If you didn’t get a chance to see the panel “The BioRegion’s Next Generation commitment: a hub of excellence in emerging therapies and personalized medicine”, you can watch it here

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