A piece of news
With the start of the new academic year and the autumn underway, September is full of great news for the sector. We’ll go over the main news this month in the BioRegion of Catalonia, both initiatives that are generating an economic and social impact throughout the region and those that are positioning the ecosystem as one of the leading innovative health hubs in Europe. Shall we get started?
We left for vacation with two great bits of news for the sector: In July, Catalan health startups surpassed the total investment secured in 2021, and Impress closed an unprecedented mega-round of €100M. This activity hasn’t stopped, and health startups have continued to close important operations in September, such as Nanoligent, which raised €2.8M to work towards developing innovative cancer treatments; Dermavison, which closed a round of €630,000 of capital for early melanoma detection; and Affirma Biotech, which closed a €600,000 a round of funding to optimize pre-clinical candidates. The startup The Smart Lollipop has also secured €320,000 in capital to continue testing its smart candy which diagnoses diseases with saliva.
Other companies are also seeking financing, such as Robopedic, which has opened a round for €250,000 in Capital Cell to launch an affordable robotic prosthesis to restore mobility in patients who have suffered a stroke.
There are four important news stories regarding specialized venture capital managers headquartered in Catalonia: The launch of the second investment fund of Asabys worth €200M, which will be used to invest in 12-15 companies in Europe and Spain in the biopharmaceutical, medical technology and digital health sectors; the second exit of Invivo Ventures in less than two years; the biopharmaceutical company Versantis, which has been acquired by Genfit for more than €100M; Inveready's reinvestment in the medical platform MeetingDoctors to accelerate its technological development and international expansion plan; and the participation of Ysios Capital in the Series B investment of €75M in the French biotech Sparing Vision.
In the news this month, the first in vitro diagnosis (IVD) tests of chronic lymphocytic leukemia, colorectal cancer, and liquid biopsy developed by the biotech Aniling earned their EC certification. Likewise, Minoryx Therapeutics submitted its marketing authorization application (MAA) for its drug leriglitazona to the European Medicines Agency (EMA) to treat adult men with X-linked adrenoleukodystrophy (X-ALD). Furthermore, the startup Cuideo reported its acquisition of the Madrid-based home services company Felizvita, a move that will enable it to offer more accessible services in Madrid and Barcelona.
Advances of startups like these are inspirational and motivational examples for the four projects and two startups that have started Biocat’s acceleration program 2022 CRAASH Barcelona this month. You can meet the participants and learn about the activities they will be doing throughout these three months.
Biocat has participated in different measures in the National Pact for Industry (PNI) 2022-2025 to encourage healthcare innovation in Catalonia and work towards gender parity in the sector. The goal of these activities is to boost the sector's weight within the Catalan economy and contribute to the region's reindustrialization.
To this end, Farmaindustria has published a report on the industrial implementation of the pharmaceutical sector, which concludes that the BioRegion of Catalonia is the home to almost one-half of pharmaceutical production plants in Spain. Of the total of 173 facilities, 79 are located in Catalonia (46%). One example of the strength of the pharma industry in our ecosystem is Novartis, which has invested €63M in its plant in Palafolls (Barcelona) to turn it into one of the biggest antibiotics hubs in the pharmaceutical industry in Europe.
Other news in Catalan pharma comes from Grífols, which has signed an agreement with the Canadian authorities to supply 25% of local plasma consumption, while also announcing that it has secured permission to sell its Alzheimer tests in Europe. Likewise, Reig Jofre and Forté Pharma have launched their ecommerce in China to sell food supplements, and Uriach has moved to Sant Cugat del Vallès after leaving its offices in Palau-Solità i Plegamans.
Other news is the acquisition of the BioRegion company Vesismin Health by the German group Schülke, an operation which will allow the Catalan company to expand its portfolio of innovative disinfectant solutions, enhance its in-house R&D and accelerate its domestic and international growth.
Finally, six Catalan companies (Sincrofarm, Txia Finising, Urquima, Medichem, Vecmedical Spain and D Denginy Biorem) were among the 17 chosen by the Ministry of Industry to receive a total of €11 million from the PERTE on cutting-edge health. Regarding the strategic PERTE projects, the minister of Science and Innovation, Diana Morant, has announced that a new biomedical research hub is going to be created in Barcelona. She shared this news on a visit to Barcelona to participate in the first edition of the Barcelona Deep Tech Summit.
This month we learned that Catalan centers will be receiving the majority of the Proof of Concepts that the ERC (European Research Council) is issuing in Spain, and that the Center for Genomic Regulation (CRG) of Barcelona and the Barcelona Supercomputing Center (BSC-CNS) are going to promote a European science mega-project to make headway in advanced therapies and personalized medicine.
Regarding advances in research, three precision drugs have been proven to be safe and effective in treating metastatic colorectal tumors, as shown by three international studies led by the Institut d’Oncologia de Vall d’Hebron (VHIO). Likewise AIDPathology, a project spearheaded by Enzyme, Hospital Clinic, and Roche Diagnostic to make early colon cancer detection easier, has also been unveiled. Moreover, the team in the Plastic and Reparatory Surgery service at the Hospital Universitari de Bellvitge (HUB) has performed the first nipple reconstruction with a custom prosthesis in Catalonia in a patient who had undergone a mastectomy due to breast cancer. The Hospital Clinic, in turn, has begun a clinical immunotherapy trial based on tumor-infiltrating lymphocites (TILs) in triple-negative breast cancer.
In terms of new infrastructures and facilities, the Medical Emergency System of Catalonia (SEM) has announced that in 2024 it will open a new corporate headquarters near Gran Via in L’Hospitalet de Llobregat, and the Hospital Parc Taulí has expanded its services with a new Genomic Medicine Center, which will enable the hospital to improve its prevention, diagnosis and precision therapies.
And to conclude, we want to highlight the fact that the Hospital Universitari de la Vall d’Hebron, Hospital Clinic Barcelona, and the Clínica Sagrada Família have been chosen as the three most advanced Catalan centers in deeptech globally, according to a study by Newsweek and Statista. The ranking classifies the 300 facilities in 28 countries that are the leaders in the use of AI, digital imaging, remote medicine, robotics, and electronic functionalities. Congratulations!