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Big operations, startups looking for funding and other news

Barcelona-based venture capital manager Asabys Partners has once again beat previous records in a €52-million round, the most important operation they have taken part in, surpassing the €50-million injection in biotech firm SpliceBio in February. And they did so investing in digital therapeutics (DTx), a category of products that despite being backed by scientific evidence has a hard time getting adopted by the healthcare system, especially in Europe. We spoke about this challenge this month and shared with you 10 proposals to accelerate adoption of innovation in the Catalan system.

Staying on the topic of digital health, this month we’ve seen the biggest round in digital health so far this year. Startup Durcal secured €8 million in a round led by Telefónica Ventures. VB Devices, which develops, manufactures and commercializes innovative devices for vascular medicine, closed a €1-million round through Capital Cell, surpassing their goal. 

In terms of public capital, the Government of Catalonia has earmarked €1 million for a first-ever line of grants to promote 70 disruptive business projects, 21% of which are healthcare projects and crowdfunding.

Four startups from the BioRegion are expanding and, to fuel their growth, have opened rounds of funding. Know which ones?

  1. Initius the femtech firm that has recently opened offices in Barcelona and took part in the Biocat acceleration program CRAASH Barcelona, is looking to raise  €1 milion to reach the market in 2023. 
  2. Tensormedical, a spinoff of the University of Girona and the Vall d’Hebron Research Institute (VHIR) that also took part in CRAASH Barcelona, has an  € 800.000 round open to develop their final product and get clinical and regulatory certification. 
  3. ABLE Human Motion, another CRAASH Barcelona, participant, is hoping to secure  €750.000 to get CE marking for the European Union. Plus, co-founder and CEO Alfons Carnicero has been named a MIT Innovator Under 35 Europe 2022. Congratulations! 
  4. CREB spinoff Exheus thas also opened a round this month with Capital Cell. They need €600.000 euros to get CE marking. The round is open on Capital Cell.

And, before finishing this section, we have news from some startups in the healthcare ecosystem in Catalonia. 

To finish off, we have to highlight that US company VeriSIM Life has acquired Catalan startup Molomics Biotech for an undisclosed amount.

Catalonia, global benchmark in clinical trials and new facilities

For International Clinical Trials Day on May 20, Biocat shared some of the main ingredients that put the BioRegion at the top of global rankings. Catalonia is ranked sixth in number of participations in active clinical trials in Europe with 1,200 studies, mainly in oncology (65.5% of the total). Plus, Novartis invests 88% of its budget in studies with Catalan participation carried out in Spain.

This month has seen the start or presentation of the results of some clinical trials led by Catalan centers. For example, the Hospital Sant Joan de Déu has initiated two unique clinical trials: one first to investigate  polycystic ovary syndrome, in which six European countries are participating, and another on Duchenne muscular dystrophy, a disease that is currently untreated. Another clinical trial led, in this case, by the Catalan Institute of Oncology (ICO) and the Bellvitge Biomedical Research Institute (Idibell) has presented "encouraging" results in its antitumor activity against advanced pancreatic cancer.

Plus, we’ve also learned that the Barcelona Supercomputing Center (BSC) will be in charge of coordinating QUSTom, a European project researching a new methodology to diagnose breast cancer using ultrasound and supercomputing, which is more effective and safer for women.

Let’s continue with more examples of the BioRegion’s research excellence. Catalonia is ranked fourth by number of ERC grants awarded per million inhabitants, surpassed only by Switzerland, Israel and the Netherlands, and ranked second if we only look at EU countries.

Noteworthy among the ecosystem’s new capacities, the University of Barcelona Science and Technology Centers is installing the new JEOL NeoARM microscope, valued at €3.35 million, which can change the temperature of the sample, apply an electric charge and work with liquids. 

With all this potential, science has become one of the Catalan capital’s main assets and the Turisme de Barcelona Consortium wants to make technology and innovation available to everyone. That’s why they’ve kicked off the program “Barcelona, Science Destination” to promote science tourism with routes featuring science highlights and research and technology centers.

More foreign investment in infrastructure and improvements at hospitals

Large corporations are paying attention to our ecosystem: Boehringer Ingelheim announced they will invest more than €17 million at their headquarters in Sant Cugat del Vallès (Barcelona) to manufacture their new drug for cardio-metabolic diseases and Swiss medtech company Ypsomed is opening a new R&D center in Barcelona, their first outside the company headquarters in Switzerland.

Turning to acquisitions, biotech firm AB-Biotics has acquired manufacturer Alifarm for €3.5 million and pharmaceutical companies in the BioRegion are keeping a steady pace, one example being Grifols, which is back to pre-COVID plasma donation levels and has over 400 centers. Almirall has announced a new licensing and research deal with Inserm Transfert to develop innovative treatments for vitiligo, a chronic skin condition. A collaboration that coincides with the appointment of Carlos Gallardo as the pharmaceutical corporation’s new chairman of the board.  

A clear commitment to patients’ health based on remodeling health centers and addressing healthcare demands. This is how Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau presented its new strategic plan for the coming eight years and Joan XXIII University Hospital has broken ground on its new building. Mútua de Terrassa has signed a collaboration deal with the Polytechnic University of Barcelona (UPC) to generate technological innovation in the hospital engineering arena.

Regarding new appointments, CataloniaBio & HealthTech has announced the incorporation of Javier Selva as General Manager of the association to lead its growth and continue to promote the representation of companies in the biomedicine and health sector in Catalonia.

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