All the stakeholders in the BioRegion have international connections as a key element of their research and business growth strategies. Direct foreign investment is growing, while companies are looking to international markets, with acquisitions, mergers and commercial subsidiaries. The number of foreign investors is growing along with local and international venture capital, and the EU Horizon programs have facilitated cross-border collaboration on R&D.
Foreign direct investment and attracting innovation hubs
Foreign companies brought €689 million in direct investment to the BioRegionbetween 2018 and 2022, generating over 2,900 new jobs. Leading companies in the European and American pharmaceutical industry have subsidiaries and production centers in Catalonia and, in recent years, we have seen an increase in the research, innovation and technology hubs created or expanded. This has been the case with Alexion, Amgen, AstraZeneca, Boehringer Ingelheim, Novartis, Medtronic, Merck, Sanofi and Teladoc, among others.
Leaders in exports
Catalonia exports more products in the life science and healthcare than any other region in Spain, with 52.9% of all sales abroad valued at €7.78 billion (2021). The sector has 703 companies that export regularly (44% of those in Spain), with noteworthy presence of pharmaceutical firms (their products make up over 92% of all exports).
Companies in the BioRegion have 863 subsidiaries abroad. Pharmaceutical companies (Grifols, Almirall, Esteve, Ferrer, Kern Pharma, Reig Jofré, Salvat, etc.) have the greatest presence abroad, and there is growth in the international collaborations of biotech (41% of the total) and medtech firms(33%).
The intense activity in mergers and acquisitions (M&A), which saw 20 operations in 2022, has been driven by the increase in acquisitions of international firms by companies with headquarters in the BioRegion.
International network, key to growth in investment
The numerous and extensive international connections of venture capital firms in the BioRegion are key to the growth in investment (x4 in 5 years, to €445 million in 2022).
R&D partners in 88 countries
Between 2014 and 2023, over 200 organizations and companies in the BioRegion took part in 553 collaborative research and innovation projects in health and biotechnology under the Horizon 2020 and Horizon Europe programs. That meant collaborations with organizations in 88 countries, led by Germany, United Kingdom, Italy and France , as well as many partners at research organizations in the rest of Spain. These projects mobilized resources valued at €3.77 billion, of which EU contributions to Catalan organizations totaled €423 million (18% of all funds received by Catalonia through the two Horizon programs through February 2023, €2.27 billion).
Attracting international research personnel
On top of these figures, there are the research grants and researcher training programs under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (174 directly related to health and biosciences, total of €279.4 million) that have attracted numerous international PhD candidates and postdoc researchers.