Pasar al contenido principal

Fostering innovative public purchasing, giving Catalonia a fiscal and legal framework that drives technology transfer and R&D investment, making a decisive commitment to internationalization and maintaining investment while making the research system more efficient: these are the four demands Biocat CEO Montserrat Vendrell made today at the presentation of the 2011 Biocat Report in order to ensure “that the biotechnology, biomedicine and medical technology sector can make the most of its potential and become a driving force for Catalonia’s economy and a benchmark in Southern Europe.”

The 2011 Biocat Report, the presentation of which was presided over by Catalan Minister of the Economy and Knowledge Andreu Mas-Colell, provides detailed information regarding the potential of this sector made up of more than 480 companies —biotechnology, pharmaceutical, innovative medical technology and service firms—, 435 research groups, roughly twenty research centers, 57 technology and scientific-services facilities, 28 support bodies, 19 science parks, 15 hospitals, 9 large-scale facilities and 6 technology centers. As a whole, the sector employs about 30,000 people, 18,000 of which (researchers and technical personnel) carry out R&D tasks.

Together, companies in the sector have a joint turnover estimated at €15,600 millions per year, making up 29.4% of the nationwide economic volume in this sector, while in number of biotech companies, Catalonia is ranked second in Spain, with 20.5% of the total, behind Madrid, and first regarding the creation of new companies, with 23% of the total in 2010. Furthermore, capitalization in Catalan companies from the sector has tripled over the past two years and in 2010 reached €2,357 millions, the majority coming from the private sector.

Biomedicine continues to make up the bulk of research in the BioRegion (58.7% of R&D companies work in red biotechnology and 45.5% in medical technology; of the consolidated research groups, 54.3% work in red biotechnology and 22.6%, medical technology). Research into new therapeutic products, followed by medical devices and in-vitro diagnostics, are the focus of most of the groups and companies. Moreover, Catalonia concentrates 26% of the national generics market.

In the field of biomedicine, research mainly focuses on the therapeutic areas of oncology and diseases affecting the central nervous system both in research groups (27% and 28%, respectively), and companies (27% in each area).

More capacities and more products
Over the two years that have passed since the first Biocat Report, Catalan companies have significantly increased their R&D capacities, which in 2009 focused mainly on the discovery phase, while now 50% of companies that carry out R&D tasks in the biomedical arena have the capacity to conduct phase I clinical trials. These companies currently have 242 new therapeutic products in various stages of development (through pre-registration), with an important number of projects in phases I and II. “Positive results in these phases, which prove the safety and efficacy of drugs in humans, can drive the market value of Catalan biomedical research significantly higher —explains Dr. Marta Príncep, scientific director of the 2011 Biocat Report—, but entail a dramatic increase in the need for funding to complete product development, which jumps from the thousand-euro range to the millions. Thus, it will be more important than ever to help our companies access capital.”

In the field of medical technology (in-vitro diagnostics, healthcare devices, electromedicine, etc.), the Catalan sector has 323 products in the pipeline, 169 of which are already in the production phase, about the go on the market.

Despite the predominance of biomedicine, we must also note the important presence of research in white biotechnology (that with industrial applications) in the BioRegion of Catalonia, which is the focus of 39.1% of the research groups and 47.1% of the R&D companies, and green biotechnology (agrifood), to which 32.6% of the research groups and 28.1% of the R&D companies devote their work. The importance of the chemical and agrifood sectors in Catalonia make these two fields an opportunity for strategic development, which growth trends seem to highlight (activity in bioprocesses has tripled since 2009, from 8% to 23%). Likewise, the Biocat Report also points to a lack of application of industrial standards as one of the weaknesses that could stifle competitiveness in the Catalan industrial arena.

High participation
The data used to create the report was obtained from a survey send out in December 2010 to 450 companies and 435 research groups active in the life sciences (40% of all consolidated research groups in Catalonia), more than 50% of which responded. This high participation has allowed Biocat to make projections about the BioRegion as a whole, which give a much more precise snapshot of its size and its importance to the economy and employment.

However, the study does highlight some weakness detected in the Catalan biotechnology sector, which must be posed as challenges to overcome perforce. These challenges are:

  • Fostering technology transfer, by creating mechanisms to foster the generation of patents and companies from the research arena. Specifically, chapter 9 of the report, which includes a detailed study of the patent portfolio in the sector over the past 10 years, points out that the public sector has only generated 10% of all inventions (3.014) over this period of time.
  • Internationalizing the sector, improving its presence in key markets, like the United States, where only 10% of Catalan companies are present and 24% have partnership agreements. 
  • Achieving a critical mass as a sector and as business units. Most companies are still very young and small —37% are micro-companies— and there are few business associations and little public/private synergy, which stifles their ability to compete and take on important projects. 
  • Strengthening human capital, by fostering the professionalization of executive management teams, on one hand, and national and international mobility of personnel —which is now scarce—, which is key to creating a network of contacts for business development. 
  • Fostering the creation of companies specializing in investment in the sector (currently, 15% of companies in the BioRegion), which are key partners for attracting important foreign investors that can bring the financial resources our companies need in the current stage of development. 
  • Facilitating the move to market for innovative products generated by Catalan companies and research, which is now hindered by administrative obstacles like the lack of appropriate orientation of public purchasing.

“Above all in the biomedical arena, we must ensure that technology transfer and public purchasing are structured around a virtuous circle, which will allow us to apply public research to the development of innovative products that will improve quality of life but which also allows us to efficiently incorporate these into the public healthcare system to improve it and make it more sustainable”, stressed Montserrat Vendrell.

According to the CEO of Biocat, over the coming two years, it will be key to create valorization instruments that will help identify research projects with the potential to address real needs and market demands, as well as building the appropriate fiscal and legal framework for the development of a sector “that has the potential to become a driving force for Catalonia’s economy”.

The 2011 Biocat Report received support from Amgen.

Note: The report is available on the following link

For more information:


Press office • M. 662 315 523 •
Silvia Labé • M. 662 315 400 • Tel. +34 93 310 33 69 •

Subscribe to our RSS
You can also follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn  

¿Necesitas más información?

Contacta con nuestro equipo

silvia labe 2
Silvia LabéDirectora de Marketing, Comunicación, e Inteligencia
Laura Diéguez
Laura DiéguezResponsable de Prensa y Contenidos(+34) 606 81 63
Suscríbete a nuestras newsletters

Toda la actualidad de Biocat y del sector de las ciencias de la vida y la salud en tu badeja de entrada.