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BIO-Europe Spring to open with plenary session on coexistence of venture capital and pharmaceutical firms

Four experts from companies and organizations in Catalonia will participate in the program of the congress, held from 11 to 13 March in Barcelona.

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By Biocat and EBD Group

There is less than one month left until BIO-Europe Spring Barcelona, a congress that expects to bring together more than 2,000 top-notch executives, investors and key decision-makers from the life sciences arena around the world. At the time of publication, the organizers of this event (EBD Group) have confirmed that there are 1,806 delegates and 1,100 companies registered, a figure that will continue to rise through the March 7 deadline for online registration.

The Local Host Committee for the seventh edition of this event is coordinated by the Barcelona City Council —through Barcelona Activa— and Biocat, and receives support from other sectorial bodies and companies representing the BioRegion of Catalonia like Almirall, Amgen, Biokit, Reig Jofré, Ysios Capital, Cuatrecasas, Gonçalves Pereira.

Although the highlight of this event is the partnering meetings (11,172 held at the 2012 edition, up 21% from 2011), BIO-Europe Spring always offers a program of conferences and debates on key topics in the sector and activities to foster networking among participants. This edition features noteworthy presence of Catalan companies and organizations participating as speakers in the official program.

Participants will also be able to visit an exhibition area featuring 63 companies and organizations, five from Catalonia: Almirall (booth 26), Amgen (booth 23), Biocat (booth 25), Reig Jofré (booth 27) and Sermes CRO (booth 11). From the rest of Spain, the Andalusia Public Foundation for Progress and Health (booth 44) and IMG Pharma Biotech (booth 57).

Program of conferences (11 March)

On Monday 11 March, the Parallel Workshops, starting at 9 am, will discuss alternative financing models, with Jöel Jean-Mairet, partner at Ysios Capital Partners, and other international investors; how to recognize and avoid mistakes that can cost you the deal; personalized oncology and the next generation of cancer drugs; trends in innovation to treat diabetes, with Alec Mian, CEO of Genmedica, and how to avoid proof-of-concept failure.

The welcome session, at 10:45 am, will be given by Carola Schropp, president of the EBD Group; Sònia Recasens, deputy mayor of Economy, Enterprise and Employment for the Barcelona City Council (to be confirmed); Montserrat Vendrell, CEO of Biocat, and David Thomas, director of Industry Research and Analysis for the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO).

Afterwards, at 11:15 am, there will be a plenary session Can't live with you, can't live without you: The VC and pharma relationship. "There is definitely a trend towards pharma increasing their interest in partnering innovative early-stage assets and being involved earlier in the process of building start-ups through the sharing of their expertise,” explained Vaughn Kailian, director of MPM Capital (USA) and moderator of the session that will feature Frances Heller, senior vice-president of Business Development at Bristol-Myers Squibb (USA); Bernhard Kirschbaum, head of Global Research and Early Development at Merck Serono (Germany); Ed Mathers, partner at NEA (USA), and Denise Pollard-Knight, partner at Phase4 Ventures (United Kingdom). "Are we taking on the role of a VC? I don’t think so,” says Bernhard Kirschbaum, "But I would say that we are looking at new ways to foster innovation from the ground up.”

The Parallel Panel Discussions, at 1:30 pm, will debate topics related with R&D and business development. The panel What will it take to bring an Alzheimer's drug to the market?, sponsored by Biokit, will feature José Luis Molinuevo Guix, a neurologist at the Catalan Institute of Neurosciences and Hospital Clínic Barcelona, alongside other international experts.

The program once again includes the forum Therapeutic Insight by Defined Health, at 1:30 pm, in which a group of executives will discuss the challenges and opportunities of the biopharmaceutical and biotechnology industry, focusing on a selection of diseases and their connection with drug development, partnering and commercialization. The panel discussions this year will bring together leaders in oncology, antibiotics, orphan drugs and diseases of the central nervous system, including Marc Martinell, founder and CEO of Minoryx Therapeutics (a runner-up in the BioEmprenedorXXI awards), in the session entitled Therapeutic Insight: Orphan CNS diseases.

Company presentation (11, 12 and 13 March)

In total, more than 130 companies will give a presentation on their activity and pipeline: on Monday 11 March, multinational pharmaceutical corporations like Sanofi, Takeda, Bayer, Novartis, Johnson &Johnson, etc. and on Tuesday 12 and Wednesday 13 March, biopharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, including ten Catalan firms: Almirall, Acellera, Chemotargets, ERA Biotech, Gebro Pharma, Insights in Life Sciences, Lykera Biotech, Palobiofarma, SOM Biotech and STAT-Diagnostica & Innovation.

Visits to the ALBA synchrotron and Reig Jofré (10 March)

On Sunday 10 March, before the congress begins, two free visits have been organized to the ALBA-CELLS synchrotron and the Reig Jofré laboratories, from 3 pm to 7 pm, and there are still spots available for those interested in participating. Additionally, the Welcome Reception will be held at 7 pm at the Casa Llotja de Mar, with delegates registered for BIO-Europe Spring and representatives of the Local Host Committee and sponsors.

Program of parallel activities

In addition to the official congress program, there will be other activities of interest held in collaboration with Biocat:

  • Networking cocktail with a delegation of French companies, organized by Ubifrance (agency for international business development), on Monday 11 March at 12:30 pm, at the Biocat booth. More than 40 representatives from the sector in different regions of France will participate. Please confirm attendance to
  • 2nd Women in bio networking breakfast organized by Ysios Capital Partners, on 12 March at 7:30 am at the Hotel Princess. Conference by Frances Heller. With the support from LRM and NLO. By invitation only.

Taking advantage of the fact that Barcelona is hosting BIO-Europe, Biocat will hold various meetings with the international partners of the HealthTIES project, a consortium of four European regions that aims to boost innovation in medical technology and bridge the gap with patient needs, and the ETTBio project, a cooperation program in which seven European regions are working to identify and exchange best practices in biotechnology technology transfer with the aim of improving regional policies in this arena.

It must also be noted that Barcelona will host another international event the same week as BIO-Europe, the Advanced Therapies Summit 2013 on cell therapy and regenerative medicine, held on 13 and 14 march by the Washington D.C.-based Alliance for Regenerative Medicine (USA).

Registration (tickets)

Small biotech firms, and research centers and groups from Catalonia are eligible for a discounted rate of €1,190 (the standard fee is €1,990). More information is available on the "Registration" page at

Date: 11 to 13 March 2013
Venue: Barcelona International Convention Center (CCIB) • Rambla Prim, 1-17 (Forum area) • Barcelona (map)

Further information on the congress is available at and

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Vaughn Kailian, managing director of San Francisco-based MPM Capital, will moderate the BES 2013 plenary session - Photo: © EBD