For innovation in healthcare, always moving forward
Catalonia, with its eight million inhabitants, is a country in full transformation. A country that is moving towards a more digitalized, sustainable and innovative economy, with the research ecosystem as a strategic stakeholder. And here is where we have the solid foundations to give us full confidence to look to the future with optimism.
The European Commission’s latest European innovation ranking puts Catalonia in the top ten European territories in innovation that act above the capacities of the state in which they are situated. Catalonia, with a performance rate in innovation between 100 and 125% above the EU average, has climbed 27 places in the past two years, an improvement only seen in 2% of cases. That is, in large part, thanks to an increase in entrepreneurial drive and the potential of the ecosystem generated by Catalonia with knowledge transfer, innovative projects, R&D investment and support from institutions like the Government of Catalonia.
Without doubt, innovation in healthcare sciences plays a vital role in this unprecedented rise. In this respect, the 2022 BioRegion Report indicated that the healthcare sector is second in terms of turnover in Catalonia, behind the ICT sector, and that we lead the industry in exports on a national level. And this year we have seen several key examples. We’re talking about large-scale projects like the opening of a new European research and development center by the biopharmaceutical firm Alexion Pharmaceuticals, a subsidiary of AstraZeneca—which already counted on support from the British pharmaceutical giant in Catalonia, expanded in early 2023—, or the significant investment from Novartis to bring one of Europe’s largest antibiotics hubs to Catalonia.
If we have achieved this ability to attract, it is also because the Government of Catalonia is certain that this is a strategic sector for the future of Catalonia, and we have brought about changes to continue to strengthen the ecosystem. In terms of legislation, our approval of the Catalan Science Law has received great support, providing us with a new regulatory framework to encourage research and knowledge transfer. From a business perspective, we are currently developing the National Industry Treaty, which promotes the reindustrialization of the country with new, more innovative and sustainable investment. We have important healthcare campuses like Vall d’Hebron University Hospital and Hospital Clinic, among the world’s best “smart” hospitals, which use the most disruptive technologies for an assistential transformation based on digitalization and sustainability. And, lastly, we are promoting large-scale facilities necessary for research and to also serve businesses, such as La Ciutadella Knowledge Hub, The National Advanced and Emerging Therapies Center, MareNostrum 5 and Alba II, which improve the country’s offer in terms of space and talent.
To round off, I would like to highlight the essential role of Biocat in everything I have said. From day one, Biocat has been a driving force for transformation, a benchmark for all innovation in the healthcare sciences sector. That is why I would like to thank all the organizations, companies and people who form part of Biocat, working every day to join forces, forge paths and align objectives both transversally and integrally, with the work ethic that defines our country. I encourage you to continue to lead and transform to provide more opportunities for wellbeing and prosperity for everyone.
We have all the ingredients to feel proud of where we come from and to launch ourselves into the future with full force. Let’s believe in it, because if we work together, we are unstoppable.
In 2022, record investment and consolidation of Biocat as a strategic stakeholder in the ecosystem
While 2021 was a transition year for Biocat, there’s no doubt that 2022 was the year we reaffirmed our position as the organization that drives and invigorates innovation in the BioRegion, an ecosystem that is becoming more consolidated and mature every year. The investment figures, among many other indicators analyzed, and the many strategic, transformative projects underway, back this up.
Our ecosystem continues to progressively scale up. Despite the social, geopolitical and economic complexity of 2022 around the world, which led to a general drop in investment, the figures for the life sciences and healthcare sector in Catalonia in the 2022 BioRegion Report show clear growth, surpassing expectations and setting a new record in investment with nearly €450 million. And we have to highlight the first megaround in the history of the BioRegion, by Impress, which secured €122 million, and the operations carried out by SpliceBio and Mynorix, raising more than €50 million each. These encouraging figures are nearly double those of previous years, showing the capacity and potential we have as a BioRegion. Looking to the coming years, we have to be prudent in assessing the local and global evolution of the sector.
Furthermore, in terms of driving high-impact strategic projects, Catalonia is positioning itself at the cutting edge of innovation in advanced therapies and personalized medicine. In this regard, as Mr. Pere Aragonès i Garcia and Minister Manel Balcells i Díaz announced last November, there will be a new Advanced Therapies Hub coordinated by Biocat to position the BioRegion as a European benchmark in clinical development of advanced therapies (cell, gene and tissue), and its key facility will be the future Advanced Therapies Center of Catalonia.
As a countrywide challenge, Biocat has also been tapped to set up and coordinate the Subcommittee on Innovation Adoption in Healthcare, which aims to reach consensus on the preferred pathways for bringing new innovations (technology, therapies and processes) into the healthcare system, facilitating access for healthcare centers and, therefore, streamlining the arrival of new solutions to improve people’s health and wellbeing. In 2023, this subcommittee will present its findings and start rolling out its work plan, with the actions to be carried out by the stakeholders involved in defining and executing these fast-tracks. The goal is to accelerate and maximize impact on the healthcare system, while also boosting a sector of the economy with high value added, generating wealth and social progress.
And we finished the year with more great news for Catalonia. For the first time in 20 years, BIOSPAIN, one of the most important biotechnology events in Europe and biggest in the world, is coming to Barcelona. The collaboration of the Host Committee, coordinated by Biocat with the Government of Catalonia and the Barcelona City Council, has been key in attracting the upcoming edition of the event to the Catalan capital. It is undoubtedly a strategic commitment and much anticipated by the sector, seeing the current weight of Catalan companies in industry, exports and attracting foreign investment.
This report provides a compilation of the main activities and projects carried out over the course of the year in order to keep growing our ecosystem and back the BioRegion as a benchmark in innovation in the European life sciences and healthcare sector.