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HIGHLIGHT: first meeting of the fast track to innovation, public funding for startups, hospitals and universities in top positions, and changes in government and business

In this space we provide a monthly summary of the businesses in the health and life sciences sector in Catalonia that have an extremely positive impact on the well-being of society and on regional economic development, yet whose activity leaves a significant carbon footprint. This month, we have included the initiatives taking place in the BioRegion in line with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) that Europe has set for 2030. Apart from this post, we will continue to share the main news from a highly active ecosystem. Will you join us?

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26.10.2022

Grants strengthen the financial muscle of startups and other highlights 

In October, public capital and crowdequity were the main formulas for funding startups in the BioRegion. On one hand, Seqera Labs closed a financing round of 22 million euros and DeepUll raised 13 million euros in a financing round with public-private participation. Loop Dx, a company arising from the Biocat programme d·HEALTH Barcelona, received a subsidy of 1.2 million euros from Next Generation EU funds. The same applies to Genomcore, which received 1 million euros in European funds. To identify the opportunities in this type of funding, the biotech has received the support of ACCIÓ through the Next Generation Office, a service available to companies -large and small- to provide them with advice on the calls. If you need support in accessing it, contact them! 

Also worth noting is the digital health Methinks, which received funding of 2.5 million euros from the European Innovation Council and was the only startup from the BioRegion of the 75 selected to access the accelerator of the European Commission. Methinks will be one of the six startups and scale-ups to take part in the “Hidden tips for success in healthcare” table organised by Biocat as part of Tech Spirit Barcelona

In terms of crowdequity, Riambarlat closed a round of 600,000 euros through Capital Cell, and Robopedicts raised 300,000 euros through the same platform. Others, however, seek funding to continue growing. This is the case of Tensormedical, a spinoff taking part in the Biocat acceleration programme CRAASH Barcelona, which has opened a crowdequity financing round, or the seven startups and spinoffs of the BioRegion that have taken part in the latest edition of the Healthcare Investment Forum where they presented their projects to venture capital managers.

Another opportunity for startups to showcase their projects, this time on the international stage, is 4YFN: the startup event organised as part of Mobile World Congress (MWC). From 27 February to 2 March, ACCIÓ, Biocat and Agència de Qualitat i Avaluació Sanitàries de Catalunya (AQuAS) will have a joint startup corner where up to 20 startups from the BioRegion can have a stand. Apply before 7 November!

This month, we would also like to highlight two initiatives that help provide a response to two main challenges of the ecosystem: technology adoption in the system and technology transfer. The subcommittee for the fast track to Innovation of the Health System Innovation and Transformation Committee, headed by Biocat and responsible for designing and agreeing to the circuits and instruments required to promote innovation and streamline the adoption mechanisms to transfer the health system, met for the first time this month. During the meeting, the members were introduced and work began on the design of a roadmap to accelerate the development and implementation of technologies into the system in an agile and flexible manner.

In terms of technology transfer, the Catalan Finance Institute (ICF) and the European Investment Fund (EIF) have signed an agreement to promote technological transfer and scientific research projects in Catalonia through the Advanced Technology Investment Fund (FITA). 

To end this section, we would like to congratulate Judit Camargo, CEO and founder of Roka Furadada, who has been named as the world winner of the ‘Women in Tech Start-Up Award’ held in Dubai this month.

 

A month of rankings: best hospitals and universities, and new infrastructures and facilities

The Universitat de Barcelona (UB), the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB) and Universitat Pompeu Fabra (UPF)​ have been named among the best 200 universities in the world, according to the Times Higher Education ranking. Furthermore, the Hospital Clínic in Barcelona and theHospital Universitari de la Vall d'Hebron have also been recognised among the public hospitals with the best reputation in the country, according to the Healthcare Reputation Monitor. The latter was also in the news thanks to its oncologist Dr Javier Cortés, who has been considered the best HER2-positive breast cancer expert worldwide.

A new scientific infrastructure was opened in October: the Centre de Regulació Genòmica (CRG) of Barcelona and the Laboratori Europeu de Biologia Molecular (EMBL) in Barcelona have built the Barcelona Collaboratium for Modelling and Predictive Biology, an ambitious new elite biology project that is unique in the world and that will bring together the best experts worldwide to progress towards what is known as predictive biology. 

Barcelona will also have a laboratory specialising in healthcare robotics. The initiative, headed by the Universitat Politècnica de Barcelona (UPC) and the Consell Superior d’Investigacions Científiques (CSIC), will make sure the progress made in this field reaches patients and healthcare professionals as quickly as possible. In fact, some hospitals in Barcelona are already conducting pilot tests involving human-machine interaction. 

Also highlighted in this section is the fact that, next year, Catalonia will have one of the first quantum computers in Europe, the Mare Nostrum 5, which is to be installed at the Barcelona Supercomputing Center (BSC).

 

New takeovers and factory openings

The Catalan family-run company Institut Marquès (IM), which specialises in assisted reproduction services, has been taken over by the Czech FutureLife, and the Catalan company Uriach has purchased the brand HuPaVir to complete its product portfolio on the immune system aimed at preventing HPV (Human Papillomavirus) infection. 

Grífols has announced that it has opened a production plant in Ireland, where it has invested 150 million euros. With this new plant, the company now has five factories spread over Europe and the United States. Furthermore, iVascular, a medical device company, has announced that it is to invest 15 million euros over the coming months to extend its factory in Sant Vicenç dels Horts (Barcelona).

 

New health minister and other highlighted appointments

The government of Pere Aragonès has announced the names of the new ministers who will replace the executives from Junts who left the government early this month. Manel Balcells, who was the executive president of Biocat from 2006 to 2010, is to head the Health ministry; Natàlia Mas, formerly the director-general for Industry in the Department of Business and Work, will be the minister of Economy and Finance; and Joaquim Nadal, the minister of Regional Policy during the tripartite coalition government headed by the PSC, will replace Gemma Geis in the ministry of Research and Universities. These changes have meant that Ramon Canal, until now the director of the Technical Office of the Nou Clínic Inter-Institutional Committee of the Hospital Clínic in Barcelona, will take over the position as director of the Servei Català de la Salut (CatSalut) replacing Gemma Craywinckel, who was the former CEO of the Hospital de Santa Creu i Sant Pau in Barcelona.

In terms of business, Grífols has appointed a new executive president. Víctor Grifols has been replaced by the American Steven Mayer, the first president not to have the Grífols surname since 1940. The pharma company therefore follows in the steps of other laboratories, such as Almirall, Uriach, Ferrer or Esteve, which recently decided on generational successions in their upper echelons outside the family. 

In science, Dr Eduard Vallory has been appointed as the new CEO of the Institut de Ciència i Tecnologia de Barcelona (BIST), and Joan X. Comella, the former CEO of the Vall d’Hebron Institute of Research (VHIR), has left his post to begin a new stage in his career as the director of Research and Investigation at the Hospital Sant Joan de Déu in Barcelona. We wish them all every success in their new posts!