In 2019, Biocat continued working to scale up the BioRegion of Catalonia and make it one of the international benchmark ecosystems in healthcare and the life sciences. To this end, several programs were consolidated that target its strategic priorities: developing professional talent, sharing the sector’s knowledge, innovation, and accelerating projects and companies by fostering their access to investors from various markets.
If we look at talent, the sixth edition of d·HEALTH Barcelona consolidated its place as one of the health innovation and entrepreneurship postgraduate programs par excellence, taking on a new hospital partner, Germans Trias i Pujol Hospital, and impacting more than 1,100 people in the ecosystem. Of the short programs offered through the Moebio innovation in health accelerator, Keys to Bioentrepreneurship held its ninth edition last year, giving over 70 participants guidelines for starting up their own business. The initiative to promote international debate that was born out of a collaboration between Biocat and the ”la Caixa” Foundation, B·Debate, hosted two conferences with over 140 participants and 49 international speakers.
In the innovation and acceleration focal point, under the framework of the Open Innovation Forum program, over 60 meetings were held where 60 companies got solutions to their innovation challenges from more than 150 researchers. In the field of project acceleration, three editions of The Investment Readiness Series were held, two of which focused on diagnostic medical technology and digital health. The third edition opened it up on an international level, bringing together investors and companies from France and the BioRegion, in an event with support from Cuatrecasas and co-organized by Business France and ACCIÓ Paris. In total, 85 companies and projects held 118 meetings with 23 potential investors. New this year, Biocat launched a program called Here comes your lead, in order to help accelerate the drug discovery process. The event used the marketplace model, with 31 projects participating that held 85 meetings with 7 national and international platforms, CROs and big pharma corporations.
In 2019, several activities were carried out within the focal point on international positioning. Biocat coordinated a mission to China for four companies from the BioRegion, under the framework of the Sino-Europe Innovation Week of Health Technology, to foster contact with Chinese investors. Participation also continued in European projects like Onconet, which aims to set up a permanent network of excellence in oncology in southwestern Europe. Furthermore, Biocat also participated in the mission to Israel under the Laser Go Global project that aimed to help life sciences and light sciences (photonics) companies land in key markets.
Other projects Biocat participated in were: Boost4Health, which aimed to reinforce and promote the international competitiveness of SMEs working in the European healthcare ecosystem; Peer2Scale, which focused on actions to assess the quality of partners’ services to companies and SMEs in the healthcare sector; and ORION Open Science, which explored new funding options for European research and biomedicine organizations.
Additionally, on October 31 the last assembly was held of the NEXTHEALTH community: Multidisciplinary Solutions for the Coming Challenges in Health, coordinated by Biocat under the RIS3CAT project. NEXTHEALTH was set up to address citizens’ health challenges and help optimize the Catalan healthcare system, foster competitiveness, promote business opportunities and encourage collaboration among participants. After three years researching how to address today’s main challenges in healthcare, results were presented for the community’s five projects: ADVANCE.CAT, led by the University of Barcelona; Hospital Liquid 4.0, led by Hospital Sant Joan de Déu; NEXTCARE, led by Eurecat; AMMIC, led by IUCT; and INNOBRAIN, led by Institut Guttmann. The event was moderated by Biocat CEO Jordi Naval and featured Robert Fabregat, director general for Research and Innovation in Health, and Àurea Rodríguez, director of the Innovation Unit at ACCIÓ.
The sector’s not-to-be-missed international event was Bio€quity 2019, held for the first time in Barcelona on May 20 and 21 in its 20th year. The conference is the main event for investors devoted to the European biopharmaceutical industry. It brought together 361 companies (59 from Catalonia) and 597 delegates from 26 countries, hosting over 2,025 one-to-one meetings to explore new business opportunities.
The event also featured plenary sessions, panel discussions and workshops, some with representatives from the BioRegion of Catalonia. Twelve projects in the pre-seed phase pitched to a panel of judges made up of investors, and five consolidated Catalan companies were on the pitch program for the conference. There was also a networking space at the reception given by the Host Committee at Palau de Pedralbes, with City Councilor Maria Àngels Chacón and ACCIÓ CEO Joan Romero.
Bio€quity 2019 was organized by BioCentury and EBD Group, with support from the Host Committee, presided by Biocat and ACCIÓ. Caixa Capital Risc and Grifols were Platinum Sponsors and Alira Health, Asabys Partners, Asebio, GP Pharm, Invivo Ventures, KPMG, Locust Walk and WeCubed Partners were Gold Sponsors, and members of the Regional Committee.
The reception at Palau de Pedralbes on May 20, 2019.