Highlights: New historic record for investment in the BioRegion, new funding, more acquisitions, and ground-breaking research into strokes
<p>It has been <strong>an amazing February</strong> in which the BioRegion strengthened its position as one of the <strong>most competitive, dynamic and intense health innovation hubs in the whole of Europe</strong>, according to the indicators presented by Biocat. If you missed it, watch <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=koISpkmFwwo&t=1s" target="_blank">this video</a> to find out. What’s more, Barcelona hosted a <strong><a href="https://bcnhealthinnovationweek.biocat.cat/" target="_blank">week devoted to health science and innovation</a></strong> this month, where over fifteen entities organised activities to promote the wealth and diversity of the life sciences and healthcare ecosystem in the city. </p>
New record in funding health startups and scaleups in Catalonia
445 million euros was the amount raised by the health startups and scaleups in Catalonia in 2022. A record figure that was also historic given the time of social, political and economic uncertainty experienced by the complex international arena in which it occurred. This and other indicators were shared at the presentation of the 2022 BioRegion of Catalonia Report promoted by Biocat since 2009, which this year included collaboration by ACCIÓ, CataloniaBio & HealthTech, Farmaindustria, and Fenin, and the companies Amgen, ESTEVE, Almirall, and Alira Health.
The companies also continued to raise capital, as in the case of Innitius, the Basque femtech with offices in Barcelona and former participant of Biocat’s acceleration programme CRAASH Barcelona, which closed a new funding round of 1.8 million euros, or the biotech ZYMVOL, which raised 1.3 million euros during its first round of private funding, headed by the French venture capital fund Elaia Partners. Aimentia, the digital solution for treating mental health, also raised 500,000 euros. In terms of crowdequity, Tensormedical –also a former participant of CRAASH Barcelona- raised 750,000 euros over the Capital Cell platform. In fact, Biocat’s acceleration programme celebrated its fifth birthday this month, surrounded by former participants, teachers and mentors.
With regard to specialist investment funds with headquarters in Barcelona, Ysios Capital announced the IPO of its investee company Mineralys Therapeutics, which has become the eight investee of the investment fund to be launched on Nasdaq. Asabys also had news, with a new 100 million-euro investment fund that will enable it to invest in 12-15 companies.
In this section, we would also like to highlight some of the news given by the startups this February. For example, Dedalus is to locate its innovation centre at the Barcelona Health Hub, and Mediktor, which received the CE marking for its medical imagine software Methinks Stroke Suite, after a year of significant development. This and other digital health companies will present news and products at the 4YFN 2023, where over 40 Catalan health companies and entities are to take part. The event, which is to be held from 27 February to 2 March, places Barcelona as an international benchmark in digital enterprise.
New stroke treatments and other news in research
The stroke played a leading role in research this month in the BioRegion. At the beginning of February, we learned that a clinical trial headed by the Vall d'Hebron Hospital in Barcelona had obtained positive results in reducing mortality figures in ischemic strokes through the administering of a new drug in combination with the usual endovascular treatment. Furthermore, at the end of the month, the efficacy of uric acid in ischemic strokes was announced following a pre-clinical trial with the participation of an investigator from the Clínic Hospital in Barcelona and the startup FreeOx. This advance places the company in a relevant situation for the clinical validation of Ox-01 in a clinical trial in the near future involving stroke patients treated with a thrombectomy.
In terms of paediatric treatments, a study conducted in this latter hospital concluded that therapy with dogs reduces mental health crises in children by 75 %. The Vall d’Hebron Hospital also announced that it is to produce medicines for children using a 3D printer. This will be the first paediatric 3D medicine in all of Europe.
In terms of new hospital infrastructure, Sant Joan de Déu Hospital and Atrys Health have opened a new nuclear medicine service and Dexeus has opened a women’s health centre at the General University Hospital of Catalonia.
To continue transforming scientific knowledge into innovations that generate value and have an impact on society, the ”la Caixa” Foundation has once again launched a new programme of grants for innovation in biomedicine and health of up to 5 million euros, for which applications will be received from 13 February to 30 March.
February is also a month with two important dates in the calendar: on one hand, World Cancer Day (4 February) and, on the other, International Day of Women and Girls in Science (11 February). Along these lines, Biocat, in its support for gender equality in research and innovation, has joined the Hypatia of Alexandria Charter, a document containing twelve main points for reversing the situation of gender inequality in research and innovation in Catalonia.
Impress enters the British market with the acquisition of a third company and new appointments
Impress has purchased the British Diamond Whites for 30 million euros. Through this operation, the Catalan scaleup is to gain presence in around 60 cities in the United Kingdom under the brand name Diamond Whites. Impress has now acquired three companies: taking over the network of Orthos clinics last year and, in the summer, entering the USA through Uniform Teeth.
Almirall is leaving its losses from dermatological medicines behind and has recorded positive results in 2022, with a profit of 4.3 million euros. However, despite the good news the sector normally gives us, there is often other news that we don’t celebrate quite so much, such as the cost saving plan that Grifols wants to implement to reduce expenditure by 400 million euros a year, which includes the dismissal of 2,300 employees, mostly in the United States and around a hundred in Spain.
So as not to end this section on a bitter-sweet note, we would like to congratulate Dr Joan Comella for being appointed as director of the Sant Joan de Déu Research Institute, and Jean-Marc Bourez as new managing director of EIT Health.