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Investment in health startups reaches record high of €238 million in 2021

Venture capital cited as main driver of increase, accounting for 79% of total financing

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26 January 2022 12:34 PM

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ACN | Barcelona

Investment in health startups in Catalonia climbed to a record high of €238 million in 2021 in spite of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, spurred on by venture capital which accounted for 79% of the total funding. 

These figures were revealed by a report presented on Wednesday by health and science associations Biocat, CataloniaBio & HealthTech, as well as the Catalonia Trade & Investment group ACCIÓ.

They estimate that around 83% of the funds raised have come from international investors. 

Last year stood out for the growth in investment in medical technologies, which was 2.4 times the amount raised in 2020. Digital health companies meanwhile managed to almost double their funding raised, exceeding €60 million.

“We continue with the growth that we saw in previous years of a new startup per week, which means between 50 and 55 startups a year," the general manager of Biocat, Robert Fabregat, said during a press conference on Wednesday.

Within this high rate of creation, biotechnology companies working in therapies particularly stand out, a subsector that has grown by 31% since 2018 according to the report. Most of these companies are created out of research institutes and universities. 

"Over the last year, everyone has seen it’s necessary to increase public-private partnerships," Jaume Amat, president of CataloniaBio & HealthTech, said, citing Hipra, a company that is developing a Covid-19 vaccine, as an example.

Catalonia has 91 research institutions and 1,300 different companies in the life sciences and health sector. The report hails it as "one of the most attractive hubs in Europe," and accounts for 8.7% of the Catalan GDP - 1.4% more than in 2018 - and employs 8% of the working population.

Although no IPOs took place in 2021, the document highlights the acquisitions of local companies by others, mostly American. In total, 36 operations were closed last year, a lower number than in 2020 when 41 were registered, but higher in terms of average amount per operation.

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  • An oncologist looks at a machine to examine a tumor (image from Catalan Health Department)

  • An oncologist looks at a machine to examine a tumor (image from Catalan Health Department)

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