HIGHLIGHTS: the biggest funding round of the BioRegion, new scientific and hospital facilities, foreign investment in research, and collaborations with tech companies to improve health service provisions
<p>Barcelona is ranked the <a href="https://www.elnacional.cat/es/economia/barcelona-quinto-hub-startups-im…; target="_blank">5th most important startup hub in the EU</a>, in which the health sector is the most representative in Catalonia (16% of the total). However, not only has the enterprising ecosystem found its sweet spot –with new <a href="https://www.thenewbarcelonapost.com/tech-barcelona-ultima-hub-dedicado-…; target="_blank">projects </a>and <a href="https://ajuntament.barcelona.cat/digital/en/noticia/barcelona-health-hu…; target="_blank">collaborations </a>to continue promoting innovation in health -, but in just one week Barcelona has also experienced a boom in new science assets: the <strong><a href="https://www.lavanguardia.com/ciencia/20220608/8323553/futuro-caixaresea…; target="_blank">CaixaResearch Institute</a></strong> was presented, the <strong><a href="https://www.elperiodico.com/es/sociedad/20220616/sant-joan-deu-pediatri…; target="_blank">SJD Pediatric Cancer Center</a></strong> was inaugurated, and the VHIO received funding from <strong><a href="https://www.vallhebron.com/en/node/18822?_ga=2.65222187.463526351.16564…; target="_blank">AstraZeneca</a></strong> for a disruptive science program based on the ideas of José Baselga. All this amidst a heatwave that was unable to shake the top stories included in this wrap up for June.</p>
Minoryx Therapeutics closes the best funding round of the BioRegion and other news
This June, the Catalan biotech company Minoryx Therapeutics closed a funding round of 51 million euros to launch its leading drug. This is the largest operation in the history of the BioRegion of Catalonia, and the second largest in the sector in Spain, following the 55 million euros of Sanifit. Amelia Virtual Care also raised capital: 7 million euros to promote its growth in the United States, as the last Biocat post revealed. Furthermore, digital therapeutics (Dtx) has appointed Afsana Akhter as CEO and Raúl Peris as COO.
In terms of public capital, Oryzon Genomics has received a non-returnable public subsidy of 1.87 million euros from Next Generation-EU funds and Newborn Solutions is to receive EC funding – a total of 382 million euros - for having been selected for the EIC accelerator 2022 program.
The venture capital management firm from Barcelona, Ysios Capital, which has recently signed up Wen Wen Cheng from Cuatrecasas as Head of Legal, is in the news for having taken part in the Mineralys Therapeutics funding round for 118 million dollars. Another venture capital firm with HQ in Barcelona, Asabys Partners, through its investment fund Sabadell Asabys, has once again taken part -as it did last month- in a 7 million dollar funding round for digital therapeutics (DTx). This time it was the German company Cara Care, which is developing a solution to treat patients with gastrointestinal diseases.
The venture capital fund from Barcelona, Additio Capital, has joined forces with Grupo Financiero Riva y García to launch a 60 million euro fund aimed at 20 deeptech startups, primarily in health, industry and sustainability.
The startups from the BioRegion that seek funding to continue growing are presented below. As follows:
- Rimbarlart has opened a 600,000 euro round on Capital Cell to launch a drug capable of reducing muscle injury healing times (and the risk of relapse) by half.
- Renalyse is seeking 500,000 euros to complete the industrial prototype of its blood marker detector
And, before ending this section, we would like to present the news announced by some of the startups and organisations in the Catalan health ecosystem:
- The Mental Health Cluster has received the Gold Label certificate awarded by the European Secretariat for Cluster Analysis.
- Oryzon has received the orphan drug designation from the US for an antitumoral drug.
- VRPharma has started a clinical trial at Hospital Universitari de Bellvitge to reduce discomfort during painful treatments through virtual reality. This Catalan DTx shared several recommendations to improve the adopting of health innovation in Catalonia in this Biocat post.
- ELEM Biotech was chosen as one of the options for text analysis in Catalan in the university entrance exam.
Advances in personalized medicine and international recognition of Catalan universities
There have been several scientific advances this month in personalized medicine and large corporations have signed agreements to improve precision medicine. Institut de Recerca de l’Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau - IIB Sant Pau presented the successful results of the first CAR-T30 clinical trial in Europe, a self-produced trial for Hodgkin’s and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and the European Commission (EC) has commissioned IRB Barcelona to head a 5-year project with a budget of 10 million euros to universalize the interpretation of tumour genomes for personalized cancer medicine. This Catalan research institute was presented this month with the “National Award for Innovation in the Creation of a Science-Based Company” for its establishing of the spinoff Ona Therapeutics.
Furthermore, Lenovo has signed an agreement worth 7 million euros with the Barcelona Supercomputing Center (BSC-CNS) to design tools for precision medicine through the use of supercomputing, and to generate new treatments for diseases such as cancer. The BSC has also received 52 million euros from the Ministry of Science to make the MareNostrum 5 the most powerful supercomputer in Spain and one of the three most powerful in Europe.
All these advances would not be possible without the quality of the Catalan university system that is once again on a par with its international counterparts. The Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB) and the Universitat de Barcelona (UB) form part of the list of the top 200 in the world, according to the QS (Quacquarelli Symonds) university ranking. The Barcelona municipalities of Cerdanyola and Sant Cugat del Vallès have been recognized by the Ministry of Science and Innovation as a ‘City of Science and Innovation’, along with another 18 municipalities in Spain.
In terms of news from hospitals, Hospital Universitari de Bellvitge has installed the first automated clinical and healthcare analyser with mass spectrometry in Spain, which is to be used to analyse patient samples and streamline clinical decision making, and the Hospital Universitari de Mútua Terrassa is soon to incorporate state-of-the-art robotic surgery into its general surgery, thoracic surgery, gynecology and urology.
We celebrate the approval by the Spanish government of a plan to fight 'brain drain' in science, which includes 30 measures and has a budget of 3,000 million euros, and we would like to congratulate Samuel Sánchez, ICREA research professor at the Institute for Bioengineering of Catalonia (IBEC) for having received the Fundació Banc Sabadell Award for Science and Engineering for his contribution to the field of nanotechnology.
Public-private collaboration to promote digitization of the system and new takeovers
The Catalan Government and Microsoft have signed a collaboration protocol for development and innovation in the ITC sector in Catalonia, in priority areas of the Government’s digital strategy, such as health.
It’s also good news for pharmaceutical companies in the BioRegion. Uriach has grown by 42% over the past year and has taken over the Rumanian company Medimow. Furthermore, the family-run company is to leave its corporate headquarters in Palau-solità i Plegamans and move to Sant Cugat. Grifols has obtained initial success with Biotest (70% Grifols), which yielded promising intermediate results for its treatment of Fibrinogen (a plasma protein) deficiency.
The German pharma company Merck has invested 14.5 million euros in expanding its premises at Mollet del Vallès (Barcelona), and the chemical company Indukern has taken over the division of the Catalan pharma company Galenicum that specializes in nutritional products, Galenicum Special Ingredients.
Insofar as new takeovers, in its first major operation after taking the leap into the continuous trading market in February, the medical services company Atrys Health has purchased Bienzobas, a company that specializes in oncology, for the sum of 94.4 million euros. And Labiana Health made its début on BME Growth.