A piece of news
For the first time, the fair has brought together nearly 200 delegates from more than 100 Catalan companies and organizations
The 11th spring edition of the top partnering congress for the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industry in Europe, held in Barcelona from 20 to 22 March, brought together more than 2,500 professionals from the healthcare and life sciences sector from a total of 1,450 companies around the world for roughly 15,070 partnering meetings.
These figures are 20% higher than the previous edition of BIO-Europe Spring, held in Stockholm. "This clearly demonstrates Barcelona's ability to attract business," says Biocat CEO Albert Barberà.
These figures are on top of the local records set, as the Catalan delegation had nearly 200 delegates from more than 100 companies and organizations for the first time ever at BIO-Europe Spring and participants reported they held an average of 30 meetings with international companies over the three days, although some had up to 60.
"We are very pleased at the success of BIO-Europe Spring in Barcelona as it reflects the energy and optimism in the international life sciences sector despite recent challenges," said Anna Chrisman, managing director of the EBD Group (organizers of the event).
Among the concerns facing the biotechnology sector, David Thomas, a director at the Biotechnology Innovation Organization, highlighted that 2016 was a difficult year for biotechnology companies because the funds raised in investment operations fell 17%. This drop was caused by the electoral uncertainty in the US and new trends in pharmaceutical corporations, which prefer to partner with biotech firms before acquiring them. Nevertheless, it is important to take into account that 2015 was an exceptionally good year in terms of investment and transactions, so the drop in these indicators was to be expected.
In Catalonia, however, there's an upward trend and investment has risen significantly over the past two years (2015-2016), reaching more than €160 millions (€100 millions in 2016 alone), which is a sign that the ecosystem is beginning to consolidate.
As the coordinator of the Catalan delegation to the fair, Biocat has seen that the majority of companies from the BioRegion of Catalonia have taken advantage of the congress to forge international contacts (which would otherwise take them months to establish) and value very highly that BIO-Europe Spring was held in Barcelona because they save on travel costs and get reduced rates on tickets, have a voice in the conferences on the official program and noteworthy visibility.
Emerging start-ups in the Catalan ecosystem also took advantage of this increased visibility in two competition spaces where they had the opportunity to pitch their project to possible investors. So much so that Start-up Slam Barcelona and HealthTech Start-up Competition, the two start-up competitions organized under the framework of the congress, with collaboration from Biocat, recognized four local companies: Peptomyc, Transplant Biomedicals, Mowoot and Braingaze.
“Biocat is deeply committed to encouraging healthcare entrepreneurship. We have a vibrant start-up ecosystem and this type of competitions are a fantastic platform to showcase the potential of our projects,” said Biocat CEO Albert Barberà.
In addition to these activities, Biocat also organized two panels to discuss innovative trends in healthcare, specifically in regenerative and precision medicine. The first was moderated by Josep Maria Canals of the University of Barcelona. “Regenerative medicine is expected to hit $30.237 billions by 2022,” he said.
Canals took advantage of the platform to present an innovative project that has been launched recently in Catalonia: ADVANCE(CAT), which is part of the RIS3CAT community in health coordinated by Biocat. It is led by the University of Barcelona and is developing advanced therapies.
Under the framework of this project, an international study has been published recently showing that Huntington disease may alter neurons even as they begin to develop. According to the researchers, these results may be able to change the approach to treatment of this disease.
The session also featured participants from Europe, Japan and Canada. The European speakers agreed that regenerative medicine is a highly innovative issue in Europe and it has been difficult to regulate. In Japan, cell therapies are gaining ground in the market because they cut medical costs and in Canada there is a very active cluster in regenerative medicine, which is supported by the government.
The second session, which discussed the importance of transatlantic cooperation on precision medicine, was organized by bioXclusters plus and brought together member regions of this European project (Auvergne-Rhône-Alps, Bavaria, Piedmont and Catalonia) to share their projects in regenerative and precision medicine.
The panel also featured Ella Korets-Smith of TOHealth!, who presented the Toronto region (Canada) and its projects in this sector. Finally, Mosaic Biomedicals and Northern Biologics presented their case as a story of a successful merger of a Catalan and a Canadian company. They have recently closed a deal to accelerate development of a cancer-fighting antibody.
BIO-Europe Spring also brought together members of the European Boost4Health, project, which hosted an informal reception at Biocat's booth at the fair.
BIO-Europe Spring 2017 was brought to a close with the announcement that the next edition will be held in Amsterdam from 12 to 14 March 2018 and hosted by HollandBio. At the closing event, Albert Barberà thanked this year’s local committee (Catalonia Trade & Investment, Asebio, Farmaindustria, Government of Catalonia, ICEX, Barcelona Activa, CataloniaBio, EIT Health and ITEMAS) and sponsors (Almirall, Gebro Pharma, Oryzon, BCN Peptides, GP Pharm, Palobiofarma, Esteve, Mosaic Biomedicals and Ysios Capital) for their collaboration, as it wouldn’t have been possible without them.