The spring edition of BIO-Europe is returning to the city after the success of the editions held here in 2010 and 2013. It is doing so with unprecedented numbers: 110 companies and entities and 195 delegates from the BioRegion have registered so far, twice as many as the previous year.
“The record number of our companies participating in this edition reaffirms Biocat’s firm commitment to attracting this type of events to Barcelona, as they foster companies’ presence and opportunities for doing business with international partners and help position the BioRegion on the circuit of top congresses in the sector,” says Biocat CEO Albert Barberà. In addition to collaborating on the organization of the fair, Biocat is helping Catalan companies participate by negotiating favorable economic conditions and competitive advantages. Catalan companies make up almost 72% of the Spanish total at this year’s event.
Núria Betriu, director general for Industry and CEO of ACCIÓ, highlights that BES being held in Barcelona “shows that Catalonia has one of the most developed ecosystems in Europe in biotechnology and the pharmaceutical industry. Thousands of professionals and companies in the healthcare and life sciences sector around the world will come to Barcelona for three days. It is a great opportunity for all participating Catalan companies and start-ups to scout for investors, new partners and, in short, boost their international presence”.
BIO-Europe is organized by the EBD Group – a company that specializes in partnering among key stakeholders in the life sciences sector around the world – with collaboration from Biocat and ACCIÓ heading up the Host Committee, which also features the following members: Asebio, Barcelona Activa, Cataloniabio, EIT Health, Farmaindustria, Government of Catalonia, ITEMAS and Invest in Spain. The event also receives support from companies in the BioRegion like Almirall, BCN Peptides, Esteve, Gebro Pharma, GP Pharm, Mosaic Biomedicals, Palobiofarma, Oryzon Genomics and Ysios Capital.
All of them see BES 2017 as a key opportunity to move towards their business goals. For Almirall, “these international congresses are a great opportunity to consolidate the company as a global partner for medical dermatology and aesthetics, as well as strengthening its relationship with patients and clients around the world.” BCN Peptides goal is twofold: “to offer up our services manufacturing peptides to companies that use them in clinical studies and to scout for partners for projects we are working on in the preclinical and clinical stages.” Esteve says they are actively seeking “special opportunities in the later stages of development for the European market and innovative treatments with a clearly differentiated market value for unmet needs.”
Gebro Pharma believes that, “in addition to gaining visibility internationally, it is an excellent opportunity to explore licensing projects in the advanced stages to increase our portfolio in rheumatology and pain.”
GP Pharm says its main interest is “finding and contacting with potential partners for licensing and distributing our products outside of Spain, as well as finding companies that can supply us with products to broaden our portfolio nationally and CMO opportunities.” Mosaic Biomedicals hope to find future partners to fuel growth and see BES as “a unique opportunity to raise awareness around the world of initiatives like Mosaic, created in Catalonia from top-notch scientific research.”
Palobiofarma has three clear, direct goals: “licensing, licensing and licensing.” Oryzon Genomics stresses that their goal is to “strengthen ties with the most important potential partners to develop and market ORY-2001, our groundbreaking clinical program for neurodegenerative and neuroinflammatory diseases.” And, finally, Ysios Capital wants to “be in contact with opportunities to invest in scientifically disruptive companies that can provide solutions to unmet medical needs. We’ll also be looking to strengthen ties with the international investors present.”
Magnet for foreign investment
The fair is an excellent opportunity to reaffirm the strategic position of Catalonia and Barcelona as one of the leading international business centers in healthcare and the life sciences, attract foreign investment and take advantage of the benefits for the hosts and local companies both before and during the Congress. This year, the fair will bring 2,500 delegates to Barcelona, 8% more than the previous edition in Stockholm, and more than the 2013 edition in Barcelona, which had over 2,000 delegates from 1,219 companies and organizations, including 58 from Catalonia. The fair had an estimated economic impact for the city of €2.2 millions. According to EBD Group, this year the fair is expected to bring together executives from 1,400 countries generating 12,500 one-to-one meetings and more than 3,500 licensing opportunities.
According to EBD Group Managing Director Anna Chrisman, “BIO-Europe Spring is a top-notch partnering event on a global level and we are proud to work with Biocat and the Government of Catalonia to bring companies from throughout the biotechnology value chain to Barcelona for three days of strategic partnering.”
Attendees will have three days to hold 30-minute private meetings with other international executives and business developers, with the option to have up to 20 meetings each day. The BioRegion of Catalonia will have a booth with more than 50 m² of space (number 41) coordinated by Biocat, where local and international delegates can network. Although the strong point of BIO-Europe Spring is the partnering meetings, there’s also a program of more than 120 conferences and debates on key topics in the sector featuring many Catalan speakers and activities to foster networking among attendees.
Biocat is organizing several activities at the fair, including the panel discussions on regenerative medicine and transatlantic cooperation in precision medicine.
The first of these activities will deal with the critical process of making sure scientific advances in regenerative medicine make it out of the laboratory and to patients. On hand to debate the topic will be experts in the matter from Canada, Japan, the United Kingdom, Catalonia and a representative of the European Medicines Agency. The second activity organized by the European bioXclusters plus consortium and TO Health!, with support from Biocat, aims to compare business environments for the development and internationalization of personalized and precision medicine in Canada and Europe. The event will share best practices and key tips to encourage synergies and innovation from representatives of the cluster and success stories from throughout the Atlantic region.
Furthermore, as value added, eight Catalan companies will have the opportunity to present their enterprise to global leaders in biotechnology, pharmaceuticals and the financial industry. They are: Laboratorios Rubió, SOLTI, Almirall, Esteve, Gebro Pharma, Minoryx Therapeutics, Oryzon Genomics and Chemotargets.
Two contests to get Catalan start-ups off the ground
The most innovative start-ups will have the chance to showcase the potential of their projects in two activities to be held on Tuesday and Wednesday.
The first, Startup Slam Barcelona, is a competition among start-ups focusing on biopharma, medtech and digital health. Sponsored by Johnson & Johnson with collaboration from Biocat, the contest will select the best emerging companies focusing on developing new therapies, diagnostic kits and medical devices and give them the opportunity to present their business model to investors, pharmaceutical companies and top opinion leaders in biotechnology. Of the finalists, 19% of the companies are Catalan including three biotechnology firms.
The second, called the HealthTech Start-up Competition, is a similar activity organized by Biocat and ACCIÓ, which is exclusively for Catalan start-ups. In this session, the best digital health and medtech initiatives in the country will present their projects to a panel of international experts in entrepreneurship. Ten companies have been selected to participate based on their business plan, feasibility, innovation and competitiveness. These 10 companies range from medical technology to digital health. The winning company will receive a cash prize and mentoring from an international company.
The BioRegion of Catalonia will also offer a program of parallel activities, including two networking breakfasts to forge contacts in the United Kingdom and Scandinavia, where Biocat will participate actively in presenting the Catalan ecosystem.
BioRegion of Catalonia
The healthcare and life sciences sector in Catalonia is experiencing ongoing growth. According to the latest figures from the Biocat directory, regarding private organizations, the BioRegion has 871 companies: 249 biotechnology firms, 51 pharmaceutical corporations, 89 innovative medical technology companies, 91 healthtech, 218 suppliers and engineering companies, 144 professional services and consulting firms, and 29 active investment firms. The BioRegion also has 41 science and technology parks, 12 universities and 104 hospitals, 18 of which are university hospitals. The sector has close to 150,000 highly qualified professionals.
With €160 millions raised over the past two years, Catalonia is one of the 4 most important centers in Europe in this sector. Despite being one of the smallest countries in Europe by population, it has more pharmaceutical companies per capita than any other country in Europe. It is also ranks third country in Europe in number of biotechnology companies per capita (after Sweden and Switzerland) and fourth in number of medical technology companies (after Sweden, Switzerland and Denmark).