R&D activity in the BioRegion
Catalonia is considered one of the main European hubs of health research of excellence, with unique capacities in genomics and structural biology, medical chemistry, nanomedicine, omic sciences and bioinformatics.Research in oncology stands out, with a wide range of capacities from basic to clinical research. Catalan hospitals are international benchmarks in treating cancer, but also in thoracic, cardiac and opthalmologic surgery, and in kidney transplants.
Research excellence and business vibrancy
The research excellence at research institutions in the BioRegion has fueled the life sciences and healthcare sector. Between 2016 and 2021, Catalonia was ranked 5th in Europe (per million inhabitants) in scientific publications (57,786), funds raised through the H2020 program (€571 million) and ERC grants awarded to projects in the life sciences and healthcare (85). The region was even ranked first in Europe in number of Highly Cited Papers as a percentage of scientific production (3.08%).
However, it is companies and institutions’ ability to generate new business projects (startups) and develop new products and therapies (clinical trials, pipeline) that is truly proving decisive in the growth and success of the BioRegion of Catalonia.
Companies in the BioRegion have 58 therapies in clinical development (2022) and, moreover, in the field of advanced therapies, hospitals and research institutes have over 20 non-industrial manufacturing treatments..
The number of products developed by healthtech companies (medical technology and digital health) is growing, 65% of which are medical devices and 35%, digital platforms and apps.
Catalonia: 6th in Europe, 9th in the world
75% of all clinical trials in Spain are carried out in Catalonia. With 1,242 active trials in 2022, the BioRegion is ranked 6th in Europe and 9th in the world.
The quality of the healthcare system, excellence of hospitals and world renowned healthcare professionals help attract multinational corporations to Catalonia for their trials, including Novartis, Roche, MSD, AstraZeneca, Janssen, GSK and Amgen.
1st in the pipeline of new therapies and clinical research
Cancer is one of the priority lines for a significant portion of the 91 research organizations in the BioRegion. Some, like the VHIO, ICO and Josep Carreres Foundation, focus solely on oncology and hematology, while others -like IRB Barcelona, a renowned specialist in metastasis, and the top hospital institutes: IDIBAPS, VHIR, IDIBELL, IGTP, etc.— have broader programs, with an important focus on studying the genetic and molecular foundations of cancer and precision oncology.
Oncology is, by far, the principal focus of the clinical trials carried out in Catalonia (1,242 active in 2022, of which 606 were in oncology). Cancer is also one of the pathologies with the most therapies being developed by pharma and biotech firms in the BioRegion. Ability Pharma, Oryzon Genomics, Peptomyc, Ascil Biopharm, OneChain Immunotherapeutics and Cebiotex all have products in this field in phase I and II.
58 therapies in clinical development
Oncology and the central nervous system are the two clinical fields where companies and research institutions in the BioRegion are developing the most therapies. Biocat has identified 20 non-industrial manufacturing treatments in advanced therapies. It is worth noting the trial OneChain Immunotherapeutics has launched, the only one of its kind in the world, with CAR-T technology for patients with a subtype of T-cell leukemia.
Benchmarks in care, teaching and research
Of the approximately twenty Catalan university hospitals, Hospital Clinic and Vall d’Hebron Hospital are at the top of national and international rankings, followed by Hospital Sant Pau and Bellvitge University Hospital. All of them are benchmarks in care, teaching and research, which they channel through their healthcare research institutes. IDIBAPS (Clinic), VHIR (Vall d’Hebron), IIB Sant Pau, IDIBELL (Bellvitge), IGTP (Germans Trias i Pujol University Hospital), IMIM (Hospital del Mar) and IRB Lleida (Hospital Arnau de Vilanova and Hospital Santa Maria in Lleida) are the seven Catalan healthcare research institutes accredited by the Carlos III Health Institute, which lead clinical and translational research in the BioRegion.