The activity of companies and organizations in the BioRegion is intrinsically global, but even more so in a year when international cooperation increased significantly, bringing about new business and funding models and driving more effective collaboration among stakeholders. Actions to position and boost the international influence of the BioRegion are one of Biocat’s three strategic pillars. In this line, actions have been carried out to forge new alliances with the main European and international stakeholders, to project and raise awareness among the international community of the assets and potential of public and private entities in the BioRegion, and to connect our ecosystem with international markets and environments that are key in the life sciences and healthcare sector.
Things were different in 2021 in terms of carrying out the activities planned in this line. The majority of the missions and events designed to boost the business development opportunities for our companies had to be moved online. Nevertheless, 2021 was an intense year in terms of our participation in events to project the ecosystem, providing virtual services to visitors and delegations, activity with European alliances and networks, participation in European projects and consortia, and participation in workgroups to respond to the pandemic.
Participation in virtual and face-to-face conferences and meetings
Conference "Personalized medicine: working together to accelerate transfer and adoption with an ecosystem perspective" organized by Biocat, EATRIS and the Council of European Bioregions (CEBR) and held in June 2021
We took an active role in several virtual and in-person events, including “Cross-cluster learning: Internationalisation strategies” organized by BioRN, “What makes the best ecosystem for Digital Health” organized by OneNucleus (UK), coordination of the Special Interest Group for the CEBR NextGeneration EU workgroup, the seminar “European funds: Tools and opportunities for local bodies. EU4HEALTH”, and as guest speakers at the EIT Health training “Next level Regional Development Agencies: Innovation ecosystem support made self-propelling” and the Inspirational Talk organized by TU Delft for the EIT Health RIS Hub program.
Under the framework of the EER network (European Entrepreneurial Regions), we took part in the peer learning session “Managing and sharing health data”, and the workshop “Mapping, analyzing and interlinking European Entrepreneurial Regions”. Furthermore, this network also provided the framework for the meeting “Regional landscape of resilience and strategic independence in MedTech”, which worked to analyze competences and opportunities to boost regional resilience in the medtech value chain, and the session “Connect and Rebound – Launch for the Helsinki-Uusimaa EER Year and Fostering European Collaboration”.
In the section on the workshops organized by Biocat, one noteworthy event was “Academia-Industry collaboration good practices” under the framework of the EATRIS Plus project.
Promoting new European projects and strengthening links with health clusters
2021 was a successful year in terms of European projects. We led or took part in project proposals to be funded through H2020 and HEU (INNAXE, DS4H, BRIGHT, Biocat Partner, EDAH, BIOMAN4R2), four of which were granted funds in 2021 or the following year based on proposals submitted in 2021.
We reactivated our work with the BioXClusters partners and renewed contact in our negotiations with Osaka Bio. And, of course, we continued to collaborate with our strategic partners like ACCIÓ and its foreign offices, hosting specific events to connect companies in the BioRegion. Specifically, in 2021 Biocat was accredited as an ACCIÓ Internationalization support stakeholder, and we took an active role in committees on funding, talent and instruments.
We also strengthened our bonds with the top European life sciences and healthcare clusters through CEBR (Council of European BioRegions) and forged new ones with the European Clusters Alliance (ECA), taking part in actions to resolve disruptions due to Covid-19, and with the European Enterprise Network (EEN), European Cluster Collaboration Platform (ECCP), and European Entrepreneurial Regions (EER).
In 2021, Biocat was also very present at the activities of the Council of European BioRegions. Specifically, we played an active role in the main milestones the network’s president highlighted during the annual event held in Barcelona in mid-2022: Mapping the value chains of the healthtech industry in Europe, in collaboration with the EC; submitting the candidacy to the HERA Joint Committee, with support from the European Clusters Alliance; taking part in the second wave of mapping European biomanufacturers; contributing to dissemination and presence of Catalan companies at the three matchmaking events to drive development of COVID-19 vaccines and therapies in Europe, promoted by DGR Grow; taking part in three proposals for European projects, all awarded funds the following year (2022). Furthermore, the board also continued work in the Special Interest Group on Next Generation EU Funds.
Capitalisation Boost4Health INTERREG NWE
The Capitalisation Boost4Health INTERREG NWE project aims to reinforce and promote the international competitiveness of biotech and medtech SMEs in the European ecosystem, facilitating and helping boost the TRL of pharma, biotech and medtech projects. In 2021, the Boost4Health project was in the capitalization stage, through which Biocat awarded grants to 15 startups in the BioRegion in different subsectors. These grants aim to accelerate and boost internationalization among life sciences SMEs, efficiently increasing the projects’ impact on more companies. Biocat attended all the partner meetings and networking activities for this project.
EATRIS-Plus is a project that aims to support the long-term sustainability of the EATRIS infrastructure, providing innovative science tools for the research community, strengthening its financial model and reinforcing the leadership of EATRIS in the European Research Area (ERA), especially in research and development of personalized medicine (PM).
BRIGHT is a project that aims to drive the digital transformation of the digital health ecosystem and value chain, boost Biocat’s abilities to provide services for the sector and promote international exchange and collaboration. We hope to achieve these goals by building a portfolio of joint activities, contributing to the digitalization of SMEs in the healthcare sector and transformation of the system by providing support for SMEs in the digital health subsector. Furthermore, we hope to implement the ClusterXchange mobility scheme to foster peer learning and networking among stakeholders in different ecosystems.
The European INNAXE project seeks to strengthen connections among life sciences innovation and health technology ecosystems, to make them more efficient and boost their capacity to address challenges and opportunities stemming from the twin transformation, finally coming to bear in a program of long-term joint actions.
EDAH is a project that aims to foster dialog and development of innovative ecosystems that are more inclusive, dynamic, diverse and interconnected in order to achieve the European Health Data Space (EHDS), developing a joint action plan, in the later stage, to bridge the current gap in the roll-out of digital health in Europe and break up the power over health data to benefit innovative medicine and the healthcare of the future.
The BIOMAN4R2 project aims to improve manufacturing processes, transfer disruptive medical technology, and boost the competitiveness and sustainability of the European health ecosystem, by encouraging long-term collaboration among SMEs, investment funds, research, clinical and knowledge organizations, science and technology parks and other companies in these sectors.
Collaborations on other projects
In 2021, Biocat was proposed as a third party for the EU SafeNMedtech project, which is working to build an innovative open-access platform to provide benchmark companies and labs the capacities, knowledge, networks and services they need for development, testing, evaluation, expansion and exploitation of the market for medical devices and nanotechnology-based diagnostics.
Montse Dabàn, Biocat's Director of Scientific Policy and Internationalization during her speech at the international conference "Cities under COVID-19: A Systems Perspective"