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Number of companies in Catalan biocluster has doubled since 2000

Biocat, the organisation responsible for coordinating and promoting the life sciences sector in Catalonia, presented the 2013 Biocat report in Barcelona. Since its creation in 2006, by the Catalan Government and the Barcelona City Council, Biocat has sought to consolidate the life sciences sector by bringing together researchers, companies and other professionals in the field of biotechnology and biomedecine from Catalonia and other countries in the world. With 65 % of its biotechnology, pharmaceutical and medical products sold on the international market, the Catalan ‘Bioregion’(biocluster) is amongst the leaders in the sector. The cluster is currently made of 512 companies, meaning twice as many as in 2000, 56 research centers dedicated to life sciences or related disciplines, 17 university hospitals and 11 universities offering training in biosciences. It also relies on numerous other technology poles. This year’s report stressed the significant increase in private funding for the Catalan BioRegion over the last 4 years (€ 5.7 million to € 25.6 million) while highlighting the drop in public aid.

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03 December 2013 04:57 PM

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ACN

Barcelona (ACN).- Biocat, the organisation responsible for coordinating and promoting the life sciences sector in Catalonia, presented the 2013 Biocat report in Barcelona. This report, published once every two years since 2009, is dedicated to exploring the current state of the sector and providing new perspectives to develop it further at both Catalan and international level. Since its creation in 2006, by the Catalan Government and the Barcelona City Council, Biocat has sought to consolidate the life sciences sector by bringing together researchers, companies and other professionals in the field of biotechnology and biomedecine from Catalonia and other countries in the world. With 65 % of its biotechnology, pharmaceutical and medical products sold on the international market, the Catalan ‘Bioregion’(biocluster) is amongst the leaders in the sector. Itis currently made of 512 companies,meaning twice as many as in 2000, 56 research centers dedicated to life sciences or related disciplines, 17 university hospitals and 11 universities offering training in biosciences. It also relies on numerous other technology poles. 


This year’s report stressed the significant increase in private funding for the Catalan BioRegion from € 5.7 million to € 25.6 million between 2009 and 2013. On the other hand, public funding registered a drop estimated between 50% and 75% in 2012. The Director of the report Adela Farré explained that while the number of companies in the sector had considerably increased since 2000, in the year 2013 there had been more businesses closing down than newly created ones.

‘Bioregion’, the biocluster of Catalonia in figures

According to the 2013 Biocat report, the Catalan Bioregion is currently made of 512 companies, meaning twice as many as in 2000. Along these businesses are 56 research centers dedicated to life sciences or related disciplines, 17 university hospitals and 11 universities offering training in biosciences.

The Bioregion also relies on two large research infrastructures, the Barcelona Supercomputing Center (BSC -CNS) and the ‘Sincrotró ALBA-CELLS’(a synchrotron radiation facility also near Barcelona), 118 scientific and technical hubs, 12 technology centers and 16 science and technology poles conducting activities in the field of bioscience.

More private funding and less public aid

Since the previous Biocat report, that is to say between 2001 and 2013, private funding in the sector of life sciences in Catalonia has grown significantly while public aid has dropped.

More broadly, between 2009 and 2013, private investment in Bioregion companies was multiplied by five while two biotechnology companies, ‘AB-Biotics’ and ‘InKemia IUCT Group’, have successfully exited the ‘Mercat alternatiu borsari’ Catalan Government program, helping newly-created small companies to launch themselves on the market.

“Access to funding remains the main challenge for further sector growth” said the Director of Biocat Montserrat Vendrell. Between January 2012 and September 2013, investment in life sciences companies in Catalonia amounted to
43 million that is to say over twice as much as the 2010 and 2011 figures (19 million).

“We have to try to reach the maximum funding for research and seek tools to raise private funding “ stated Vendrell, who stressed that State investment in R&D had dropped by 30 % last year, a fact that “definitely stood in the way of research in Catalonia and that was to be frowned upon”.

According to the report, the reluctance to take risks, the lack of knowledge of the sector and the absence of success stories and appropriate incentives hinder private funding and the commitment of investors to the Bioregion companies.

Vendrell also pointed out that in 2012, public aid for companies fell between 50% and 75%. The drop was particularly significant for Spanish Government funding. The Catalan Government, on the other hand, continued to encourage research by cutting funds to a lesser extent.

A majority of small/medium businesses

The report reveals that 512 companies, and over 33,000 people are currently working in the field of life sciences. They produced a turnover of
11.52 billion in 2011, contributing to 5.8% of Catalonia’s GDP.

It also highlights that over 80% of these companies are Small-medium companies and that a majority of these (43%) are actually micro-companies (with less than 10 employees and a turnover of
2 million per year.)

In 2013 the number of companies closing down (60) exceeded the number of newly-created businesses: Director of the report Adela Farré explained that “the impact of the crisis was specifically significant for a range of small companies that had weaknesses and needed financial and technical support in order to develop”.

On a more positive note, the report also confirms the consolidation of Bioregion’s leadership in life sciences research, reassessing its international competitiveness and stressing the increase in public -private partnerships.

Finally, it analyzes the degree of internationalization of Catalan companies in the sector. The data shows that 65 % of biotechnology, pharmaceutical and medical products are sold on the international market.

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  • The Director of Biocat Montserrat Vendrell, and the author of the report, Adela Farré (by ACN)

  • The Director of Biocat Montserrat Vendrell, and the author of the report, Adela Farré (by ACN)