Catalonia, an international reference hub

With 15 years promoting and leading the life sciences and healthcare ecosystem, Biocat is an example of a strategic commitment made in order to prioritize a decisive sector for the future of the country, managed from the beginning with knowledge, talent, hard work and dedication, and nourished by a vision for the system that has not only held steady but evolved, adapted to changes and looked to the future to address challenges to come.

My first words, therefore, are to congratulate Biocat for 15 years at the forefront of the sector, and to recognize the value of the work done. We’ve been able to embrace each other again thanks to biotechnology, research, innovation and technology transfer in healthcare. This whole sector must remain a priority for the better prepared and more resilient society we so often refer to.

Some months ago, Biocat published the 2021 BioRegion of Catalonia Report, calling this “an exceptional year”. The report I have the pleasure of opening with these lines, as president of the Biocat Board of Trustees, compiles the organization’s contribution at a time when there was the greatest effort channeled into innovation in health in Catalonia and when the sector had the greatest impact on the country’s wealth. Hard work today means opportunities tomorrow, and Biocat has intensified its commitment to maximizing opportunities and responding to the needs of the post-pandemic world, with some unexplored challenges.

It is essential to strengthen this commitment to the sector and its ability to transform, to answer the big questions, and to expand a quality production model, with this value added of talent, economic and human capital, shared prosperity and sustainable progress, which uniquely contributes to achieving the United Nations development goals for 2030. A 2030 that poses more and more challenges.

The commitment is being strengthened throughout the sector, and focuses on two strategic capacities resulting from the facilitating technology where Catalonia is on the cutting edge: on one hand, creating an international benchmark hub that is a leader in creating and developing new advanced therapies and personalized medicine; and on the other, accelerating patients’ access to new technological solutions. These are initiatives being carried out through public-private partnership that have a direct impact on society’s wellbeing and the country’s competitiveness.

I am very proud, and we can all be very proud, of this entrepreneurial country, of its research staff and innovative talent, of the 91 research institutions and over 1,300 companies that, despite the pandemic, have never stopped working to build the future. This sector makes up 8.7% of the Catalan GDP, employs 9% of the working population and generates €37.7 billion in wealth for the country. A leading ecosystem in Europe that puts Catalonia where it belongs internationally.

In addition to my congratulations and recognition, I also wish Biocat continued success in their strategic work as a catalyst of this crucial ecosystem, able to determine how we will grow as a country and how we will live as a society.

Mr. Pere Aragonès, President of the Generalitat de Catalunya and President of Biocat Board of Trustees

Re-energizing Biocat, reinforcing the BioRegion

In 2021, we celebrated Biocat’s 15th anniversary while also beginning a transition within the organization towards a new era, conditioned among other things by the departure of my predecessor, Jordi Naval, who I would like to thank for all his hard work over the past years at the helm of this organization.

Because all the internal changes and cumulus of knowledge acquired over these years have put Biocat on the cutting edge of the strategic push the life sciences and healthcare ecosystem needs. And even more at this historic time for the sector, given the social, political and economic circumstances we are in.  New times, new challenges, new ways of tackling difficulties, and new solutions being developed daily in our sector.

2021 was the year Biocat prepared to reinvent itself and, above all and most importantly, to begin this new period with an updated vision of an ecosystem that has an excellent foundation, but requires strategic initiatives to catalyze the sector to take this huge leap forward and become a true benchmark hub for Europe and the world.

The digital transformation, personalized medicine and advanced therapies, accelerating innovation adoption and bringing new solutions to patients, access to health data for technological development, the healthcare system’s economic and environmental sustainability... All of these are global challenges that are a top priority for Biocat and the rest of the stakeholders in the BioRegion in beginning this transformation towards an era of growth and leadership of projects driving the ecosystem.

But beyond these outlooks on the future, 2021 was an excellent year in terms of the sector’s economic impact and the investment secured by health startups, with new records in all the indicators and an upward trend expected to continue, as the 2021 BioRegion of Catalonia Report shows. The commitment to health innovation on a global scale, in part due to the pandemic, is reflected clearly in the growth in our ecosystem.

And it is precisely this new global situation that has led us to consolidate and grow our international connections with networks like CEBR, organizations like EITHealth, and infrastructures like EATRIS; gaining weight and presence in various EU decision-making spaces; and taking an active role in strategic initiatives that aim to draw up a new European framework that is more resilient and better able to tackle future healthcare crises.  All of this allows us to boost Biocat’s influence, as well as the importance and connectivity of the BioRegion in Europe and the world. 

In terms of business acceleration and talent development, we held the 4th edition of CRAASH Barcelona, launched the Ignite·Health Barcelona program, and hosted a new Open Innovation Forum, among many other initiatives in this arena. 

The consolidation of the lines Biocat has been working on for over 15 years and identification of new challenges we are facing in the short- and middle-term made 2021 a turning point for a new, stronger BioRegion with a greater capacity to make an impact.

This report compiles the main activities we worked on this year to tackle new challenges and achieve goals, always with a close eye on the evolution of the ecosystem and global trends.

Robert Fabregat, CEO of Biocat