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Investment in Catalan biotech start-ups trebles

Major report on health and life science sector in Catalonia shows foreign funding of emerging firms has multiplied by ten in five years


05 December 2018 12:48 PM


ACN | Barcelona

Catalan start-ups in the health and life science sector attracted 340 million euros of investment between 2015 and 2017, three times more than in the 2013-2015 period, according to the Biocat report, the most important on the sector in Catalonia.

As well as forecasting that investments for 2018 are likely to exceed the 107 million from last year, the study also says that foreign investments in medical start-ups are now ten times what they were just five years ago.

According to the report, the number of foreign investors in Catalan start-ups in the sector has gone from zero to 50 in the past decade, with the amounts invested more than doubling, from 85 million euros between 2013 and 2015 to 211 million euros in the 2016-2018 period.

The Biocat report also says that a new start-up company opens every week in the medical and life science sector, with the total number standing at 1,060 at the end of 2017, with a joint turnover of some 17.8 billion euros.

In all, Catalonia's biotechnology sector generates some 31 billion euros every year, accounting for some 7.2% of the country's GDP, while at the same time employing 223,000 people, or 7% of the country's workforce.

Biocat head: "Barcelona is a hub for start-ups"

Biocat head, Jordi Naval, said Catalonia compares with countries like Sweden, Belgium or Denmark. "Barcelona has become a hub for start-up companies," he said, adding that in recent months tech firms like Amazon and Facebook have opened innovation centers in the Catalan capital.

Naval also highlighted some of the projects currently underway in the biotech sector, including work on 18 new medicines, 11 more than in 2013, with three of them in the latter stages of development. The Biocat head predicted that by 2025 there will be at least 10 products on the market that will have been developed in Catalonia.

President Quim Torra was at the report's presentation, and while celebrating the fact that in the biotech sector Catalonia matches Europe's most advanced countries, he regretted that Spain doesn't provide "the context" necessary for turning this innovation into wellbeing.

"We envy the innovative capacity of those countries, which can easily apply knowledge to help their society progress… Thanks to being able to develop these values in freedom, these countries can enjoy the fruits of their efforts in improving the general wellbeing," he said.


  • The Biocat report was presented at an event with President Torra (by Biocat)

  • The Biocat report was presented at an event with President Torra (by Biocat)