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600 delegates from 20 countries and nearly 60 Catalan companies and organizations participated
This May, Barcelona was a great center for meetings among international life sciences investors. For the first time, the city hosted BioEquity, the main event for investors devoted to the European biopharmaceutical industry, thanks to the initiative of the Regional Host Committee, made up of Biocat, Ysios Capital, ACCIÓ and CataloniaBio & HealthTech. Organized by BioCentury and EBD Group, the event featured support from Caixa Capital Risc and Grifols as Regional Platinum Sponsors, and Alira Health, Asabys Partners, Asebio, GP Pharm, Invivo Ventures, KPMG, Locust Walk and WeCubed Partners as Regional Gold Sponsors.
This was the 20th year of BioEquity but, as the organizers admitted, “it had never been held further south than Paris.” Barcelona proved itself to be a great choice, with this year’s event beating turnout records with roughly 600 delegates from 361 companies from 26 countries doing business in more than 2,000 one-to-one meetings. Nearly 60 companies and organizations from the BioRegion of Catalonia were able to take advantage of this intense breeding ground to pitch their projects and scout for funding.
“BioEquity didn’t choose Barcelona at random. We have the perfect storm to tackle challenges in the sector: excellent science, a network of local investors co-investing with international funds, and an extensive network of specialized companies,” highlighted Biocat CEO Jordi Naval at the opening of BioEquity.
Good proof of this storm is the positive trend in investment attracted by start-ups in the sector, which totaled €106 million in 2018. More than half of this investment (€61.3 million) was from venture capital funds. Furthermore, three in four euros in venture capital attracted by Catalan biomedical start-ups (75%) came from rounds with foreign participation. This data was announced at the BioEquity press conference, coinciding with the presentation of the Study on investment in the Biomedical industry in Catalonia 2019 by CataloniaBio & HealthTech and EY.
In addition to partnering meetings, the BioEquity program also featured plenary sessions, panel discussions and workshops, some with representatives from the BioRegion of Catalonia.
In a session called “Scaling Up Catalunya”, Biocat CEO Jordi Naval covered all the potential of the BioRegion. The session also featured presentations from Allinky Biopharma, Aniling, Glycardial Diagnostics, IDP Pharma, VCN Biosciences and ZeClinics.
For their part, the companies on the regional committee were also represented in several sessions on the program, with international delegates. These included José Terencio, of GIANT (Grifols Innovation and New Technologies), who was on the panel “Where can Europe lead?”; Jose Antonio Mesa, of Caixa Capital Risc, on the panel “Creating Hot Topic Companies in Europe”; Joël Jean-Mairet, representing Ysios Capital in the workshop “C-Suite Management”; and Clara Campàs, of Asabys Partners, who spoke at the “Drawing your financial roadmap” workshop.
Lluís Pareras, of InVivo Capital, and William Hariri, of Alira Health, were on the panel of judges for the “Pre-Seed Showcase”, where many international companies pitched their projects, including Catalan firms like PurPose Biotherapeutics, ADmit Therapeutics, Iproteos, Gate2Brain, Avida Biotech, Biointaxis, Valis Pharma, Nanoligent, AngioTheraGnostics, Cebiotex, Remab Therapeutics and Ona Therapeutics.
Specifically, BioEquity was the framework chosen to unveil Ona Therapeutics, the new spin-off of IRB Barcelona and ICREA that is kicking off with €1.5 million from Sabadell Asabys, a vehicle of Banco Sabadell and Asabys Partners. The company, based at the Barcelona Science Park, is working to develop a new drug to treat metastatic cancer. “These days at BioEquity, we’ve made contact with investors to close a €20-million round in 9-12 months to move into clinical trials,” highlighted Clara Campàs, of Asabys Partners.
The meeting rooms at Hotel Crowne Plaza, where the event was held, weren’t the only place BioEquity Barcelona delegates got the chance to do some networking. The BioEquity Regional Host Committee hosted a reception at Palau de Pedralbes, presided over by Catalan Minister of Enterprise and Knowledge Maria Àngels Chacón and ACCIÓ CEO Joan Romero. “BioEquity is a unique opportunity for companies from the BioRegion of Catalonia to show the world this great sector we’re building,” the Minister highlighted in her speech.
Several satellite events were held parallel to BioEquity, such as Labiotech Refresh #15, a biotechnology event held at Movistar Centre by the renowned specialized journal Labiotech with collaboration from Biocat, featuring Ysios Capital and Aelix Therapeutics. For their part, Alira Health, Regional Gold Sponsor of BioEquity, hosted a session called “Boston: the hub of success in the U.S. healthcare market” with the presidents of the two key stakeholders in the promoting healthcare innovation in Massachusetts: Mass Life Sciences Center and Massmedic, along with other representatives from companies and stakeholders in the BioRegion.
The next BioEquity event will take place in May 2020 in Dublin.