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BIOCAT was part of a mission of the Catalan Ministries of the Interior, Health, Territory and Foreign Affairs and European Union to strengthen institutional ties with California signed in 2015 and exchange good practices in areas related to health, precision medicine and digital health.
Catalonia and California share many common features. Both are benchmarks in innovation, creativity and entrepreneurship, in addition to being poles of attraction for international investors and one of the main economic engines of their territories.
With the goal of consolidating the agreements signed in 2015 and continuing to explore new partnership avenues, the Delegation of the Government of Catalonia traveled to California on June 19. Montserrat Daban, BIOCAT Director of Science Policy and Internationalization, along with the head of the International Relations and Cooperation Area of the Catalan Ministry of Health, Josep A. Pujante, were part of the group of experts that traveled to meet with counterpart organizations and sectoral and governmental representatives in biotech, precision medicine, and digital health and to share practices in health innovation and attracting and retaining talent.
Visits to benchmark centers, institutional gatherings, and sectoral working meetings were held over the course of one week.
The events started with a meeting with Julianne McCall, Director of the California Initiative to Advance Precision Medicine, an initiative launched in 2015 with the goal of supporting collaborative research and fostering associations between states, researchers, patients, communities, and industry to promote the goals of this new approach to health and medicine. Based on that meeting, future partnerships were established in terms of inclusive policies in personalized medicine, data in health and biomedical and health advances (ARPA agency), among others.
The visit to GO-Biz (California Governor's Office of Business and Economic Development), which already exchanged collaborative practices with ACCIÓ and BIOCAT, enabled exchanges to be launched on issues like acceleration, mapping the ecosystem and investment.
The meeting with Jim Suennen, Associate Secretary for External Affairs at the California Health & Human Services Agency, which provides Californians with access to affordable, comprehensive and high-quality healthcare, was marked by the current status of the healthcare system, primarily patients with fewer resources and more needs, with particular attention to mental health and equity in public healthcare during the post-COVID period.
And finally, meeting with Sergio Aguilar-Gaxiola, MD, PhD, Director of the Community Engagement Program at the University of California, Davis Health Clinical and Translational Science Center (CTSC) and two of its leaders, Nick Anderson and Scott Fisherman, has been an opportunity to share visions on community engagement or how to reduce health disparities among others.
On the trip, the participants could see firsthand the facilities of benchmark centers like the California Biomanufacturing Center, which promotes the development and growth of one of the largest biomanufacturing groups in the world, and Grifols, where Christian Mayer, Site Head Director; Ramon Biosca, CDMO Operations Director; and Jody Melton Witt, Product Development Director, presented the company and its centers. The company currently tests 80% of the plasma donations in the USA, works with the Japanese and Australian Red Cross, and runs trials for diseases like Zika and other pathogens. At the Stanford Byers Center for BioDesign, Josh Makower, Boston Scientific Applied Bioengineering Professor of Medicine and of Bioengineering at the Stanford University Schools of Medicine and Engineering and Director of the Stanford Byers Center for Biodesign, shared the new developments and updates of the program he co-founded with Paul Yock 20 years ago, which inspired BIOCAT’s d·HEALTH Barcelona program.
Before concluding the trip, BIOCAT met with Biocom, its counterpart in California, with whom it was decided to continue sharing experiences on issues of investment and ecosystem indicators. Biocom helps to promote the life sciences industry with transformative resources that allow companies to forge significant connections.