Outstanding Catalan presence at BIO Boston 2023, with institutional support from Minister of Health
<p>Led by Catalan Minister of Health Manel Balcells and accompanied by the Biocat management team, the BioRegion delegation included 46 companies and organizations and more than 80 professionals from the sector.</p>
The 2023 BIO International Convention set new participation records. More than 5,000 companies and almost 10,000 delegates attended the most important international partnering meeting of the biotech sector, held this year in Boston (United States), the world’s leading life sciences ecosystem.
The Minister of Health traveled to Boston to show institutional support for Catalan companies in their search for collaboration agreements, strategic alliances, funding and new licensing deals, and to strengthen existing development agreements and business and to reach new markets faster.
Over four intense days, Catalan Minister of Health Manel Balcells and the institutional delegation got to meet with Catalan professionals and researchers working in the United States and visit benchmark centers. These included the Broad Institute, a research center studying the genome; the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, one of the top oncology centers in the world; and MIT, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where many of the most disruptive innovations in products and processes are generated.
While at the fair, they also held meetings with international institutions and companies in the sector. These meetings have helped strengthen the institutional relations between Catalonia and the Massachusetts scientific community, leading to proposals for future projects. In the words of the Minister of Health, “The Government of Catalonia is promoting collaboration agreements between Catalan centers and prestigious scientific institutions.” The main goal of these agreements is “to launch the new Advanced Therapies Hub of Catalonia and draw back Catalan talent trained at home who are currently working abroad.”
For its part, Biocat had an intense schedule of partnering meetings with various organizations and international investors to promote the BioRegion’s assets and strengthen collaborations for its programs and projects. The Biocat team also met with the large delegation from Mexico, which it is collaborating with on several actions to make Catalan companies more aware of the Mexican market and facilitate business opportunities between the BioRegion and leading states in the country like Nuevo León. The agenda also included meetings with members of the European Innovation Council and other representatives of the European Commission, as well as dissemination activities for the Council of European BioRegions (CEBR). This network of clusters, which Biocat is currently heading up, held a meeting in the BioRegion pavilion, where Catalan Minister of Health Manel Balcells met with Cornelius Schmaltz of the European Innovation Council.
The BIO fair was also a great opportunity to promote BIOSPAIN, which will be held in Barcelona this September. Biocat is a collaborating entity for this fair and worked to attract international delegations to the event.
Highlights of the Biocat agenda include an exclusive meeting to discuss the challenges of biomanufacturing, organized by EuropaBio and the Biotechnology Innovation Organization. At this gathering, 45 representatives of organizations and companies in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical sector all over the world worked on a position paper laying out the industry’s needs and opportunities.
Montserrat Daban, Biocat director of Scientific Policy and Internationalization and president of CEBR, highlighted the opportunity this represents for the BioRegion, “This is a chance to position Catalonia’s assets, make the most of the opportunities and share our companies’ needs in order to play a more prominent role in the revolution and reindustrialization opportunity that developing and manufacturing new therapies offers Europe.”
The BIO convention was a showcase and a prominent space where participating Catalan companies got the chance to scout for investment and international partners to bring their products and developments to patients all over the world. In addition to institutional support, the Catalan delegation had media support thanks to extensive coverage by Catalan media outlets. Lydia Heredia from TV3 reported from the fair itself, where she got firsthand impressions from Catalan startups, companies and investment groups. BCNpeptides Sales Manager Jordi Piró noted they have been coming to this fair since 2008 because, “It is the fair with the highest return both in terms of networking and economically, meaning new projects.” Genomcore co-founders Miquel Bru and Oscar Flores passed on the comments they had heard regarding the high level of the Catalan projects at the fair in Boston, both in terms of quality and innovation. Oniria Therapeutics’ main goal at BIO was to find investors so they can “conduct the clinical study that will allow us to advance our science and bring our drug to patients”, CEO Esther Riambau explained.
On the other side of this equation were the companies looking for investible projects. Sara Secall, life sciences partner at Inveready, highlighted the difficulties of investing in a sector where “even when clinical trials in animals and humans have gone well, the product can end up not getting approved.”
For his part, Francesc Garriga of Catalunya Ràdio had the opportunity to interview Minister Balcells during his visit to one of the leading research centers in Massachusetts with the Biocat team.