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President of the Government of Catalonia Quim Torra highlighted that the healthcare sector is "exceptionally strategic" at the presentation of the study
Biocat has presented this December a new edition of the Biocat Report, the benchmark study on the healthcare and life sciences sector in Catalonia. More than 300 professionals from the sector attended the event to present the report, held at the AXA Auditorium and presided over by the President of the Government of Catalonia Quim Torra, with other representatives of the Government of Catalonia.
The healthcare and life sciences sector generates €31.087 billion each year in Catalonia and makes up 7.2% of the gross domestic product (GDP), counting companies from the sector and healthcare services. In total, more than 223,000 people are employed in the sector, roughly 7% of all those working in Catalonia.
On average, a new company in the sector is created each week in Catalonia. The sector has 1,060 companies that employ nearly 58,000 workers and have a joint turnover of €17.802 billion, with an average year-on-year growth of 2.4% between 2020 and 2016.
Between 2015 and 2017, Catalan start-ups in the healthcare sector attracted €340 million in investment, three times more than in the 2013-2015 period, through 2014 investment operations. In 2018, companies raised €100.2 million from January to October and the sector is expected to surpass the investment attracted in 2017 this year (€107.3 million).
72% of all venture capital attracted by Catalan start-ups in the sector this year (specifically €42.7 million of a total of €60.9 million) was through rounds of funding with international participants. In addition to specialized local investors like Ysios Capital, Caixa Capital Risc, HealthEquity, Inveready and Alta Life Sciences, the Biocat Report highlights the significant growth in foreign investors committing to Catalan companies in the healthcare sector. In just 10 years, the number of foreign investors participating in these companies has gone from 0 to 50 and over the past five years alone, the figure has increased tenfold. Most of them are from North America.
The capital raised through rounds of investment with international participants has also doubled in recent years, from €85 million in 2013-2015 to €211 million in 2016-2018.
In terms of GDP and population, Catalonia is comparable to EU countries like Sweden, Belgium, Denmark, Austria or Ireland. According to the Biocat Report, the BioRegion of Catalonia even surpasses these countries in terms of some of the indicators of research success: for example, Catalonia has received just as many grants from the European Research Council (ERC) since 2007 as Belgium and Sweden; and the number of articles published in Nature between 2013 and 2017 signed by researchers from the BioRegion of Catalonia is similar to that of Belgium and greater than that of Austria and Finland.
Catalan biotechnology companies are currently developing 18 potential drugs, 11 more than in 2013. Three potential drugs are already in phase III. "As a result of the sector's evolution, in terms of social impact, Biocat estimates at least 10 products and advanced technologies developed in the BioRegion of Catalonia will reach patients by 2025," says Biocat CEO Jordi Naval.
The presentation of the 2017 Biocat Report was led by President of the Government of Catalonia Quim Torra. "The Biocat Report shows that, in the healthcare and life sciences arena, Catalonia is comparable to any of the countries that are so often named as our benchmark, and that it is in our hands to boost our potential to attract international investment because we have all the ingredients and they are of the very highest quality," highlighted the President of the Government of Catalonia. Torra highlighted that this sector is "exceptionally strategic" for Catalonia.
The Biocat Report also includes a series of recommendations to consolidate the scale-up of the sector over the coming years. These include better incentivizing technology transfer for researchers; fostering closer collaboration among scientists, pharmaceutical companies and investors to define proof-of-concept initiatives more specifically; strengthening local drug discovery platforms; providing specific public funding; further integrating CatSalut to optimize clinical trials; improving the capacities of the Catalan healthcare innovation system and implementing programs for innovative public procurement.
The presentation of the Biocat Report featured a talk by Daria Tataj, founder and CEO of Tataj Innovation, president of the RISE High-Level Advisory Group and advisor to Carlos Moedas, EU Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation. Tataj also wrote the preface to the study, available in the full version of the Biocat Report.
"Numbers tell a story, and the figures in the Biocat Report show us that the BioRegion of Catalonia is one of the best ecosystems in the world with exponential growth," highlighted Daria Tataj in her intervention.
The event also featured presentations on the experiences of Leukos Biotech, GoodGut, Aniling, Vesiclean and Nostrum Biodiscovery: five of the 20 technology transfer success stories featured in this year's Biocat Report.
This year, the Biocat Report was sponsored by Amgen. "A commitment to R&D means ensuring we have a driving force for the economy and the robust, stable progress of our country," highlighted Director of Amgen Iberia Fina Lladós. "There is a direct link between the biotechnology sector's commitment to R&D and job creation, mostly highly qualified positions."