With a pharma industry as a historical driver of the local economy life sciences activities account today, according to Biocat, for 7,4% of Catalan GDP, have an annual turnover over €16,000 M, and employ some 46,000 people in over 871 companies.
Since 2010, 50 new companies are set up yearly in the Catalonia’s Bioregion, meaning that every eight days a life and health sciences company opens. Furthermore, these companies have an extremely high survival rate, given that over the last five years only one company closure is registered per year.
Catalonia is a great place for international pharmaceutical companies
Within the context of Spain, Catalonia concentrated 47.07% of Spanish pharmaceutical production during 2014 and 36.56% of Spanish pharmaceutical exports during the period 2006-2016 came from Catalonia.
Catalonia, as the leading and birthplace region of pharmaceuticals in Spain, is home to the five biggest Spanish pharmaceutical companies: Almirall, Esteve,Ferrer, Grífols and Uriach. Catalonia is also home of Lacer, Indukern, Salvat and Isdin, and to the main API companies in the country. Furthermore many international companies have established here, such as Novartis, Sanofi, Boehringer-Ingelheim, Bayer, Roche, Menarini, Pierre Fabre, BBraun, GE Healthcare, Zoetis, Otsuka, Invent Farma, Intas Pharmaceuticals, AstraZeneca, Synthon or Angelini, to mention just a few.
The biotech connection
Catalonia is the leading biotech region in Spain, holding almost 20% of Spanish biotech companies. Amgen, Inkemia, AB-Biotics, Biokit, Salvat, Reig Jofre, Oryzon,Advancell, Gendiag, Readycell, Bionure, Alexion, GP Pharm, Endor or Lipotec are part of the biotech industry in Catalonia.
The Catalan biotech firms hit investment figures of 100 million euros last year for the very first time, a figure 80% greater than the previous year’s given that in 2016 four major operations were closed with STAT-Diagnostica, Oryzon Genomics, Aelix Therapeutics and AB Biotics.
Since biotech and pharma are increasingly more interrelated industries, the importance of the Catalan biotech sector is another asset for pharmaceutical companies to set up in Catalonia.
Catalan and international medtech companies
Catalonia leads the distribution of medical devices production in Spain, with a 42% of total production. Health Technology industry in Catalonia combines local companies -Phibo, BioSystems, Deltalab, Stat-Diagnostica, Avinent, Grifols or Texpol- and leading medical devices companies. Among these last ones we can find Olympus, Roche Diagnostics, Hartmann, Werfen-Biokit, Dako-Agilent, BBraun, Siemens, GE Healthcare, Stryker, Boston Scientific, Hologic, Gore, Menarini Diagnostics, Azbil, Johnson&Johnson or Zimmer.
Catalonia’s active research climate gives added dynamism to the life sciences sector
According to Biocat Outlook, Catalonia has 41 research centres with a joint budget of more than €400 million yearly working in life sciences or related disciplines (nanotechnology, photonics, etc.). These centres have formed over 780 active research groups and more than 360 research projects in main areas of bioinformatics, genetics/genomics and nanotechnology and in the therapeutic areas of cancer and neurodegenerative diseases.
These research centres have a combined workforce of 11,000 people, 5,660 of which are researchers, and the 18 Catalan university hospitals have more than 5,000 researchers devoted to biomedical research. The recognition of 11 Catalan research centres as “Severo Ochoa” centres of excellence, out of a Spanish total of 18, showcases the level of the Catalan research system.
An advanced clinical trials research network
Barcelona Clinical Trials Platform (BCTP) is a strategic instrument promoted by the Government of Catalonia to improve the coordination, integration, quality, and speed of clinical trials. The initial list of member institutes includes 7 university hospitals with overall clinical research capacity of 5 million patients and 2,000 investigators to which BCTP provides a single point of access. Currently, more than 3,000 trials are ongoing, either in one site or across multiple sites.
Strategic partnerships, joint ventures & acquisitions
There is a growing number alliances between companies and R&D Centers. Both Catalan R&D centers or spin-off companies are becoming a valuable source of new discoveries for Pharma and Biotec companies.
At the forefront of the sector’s newest trends
R&D Hub for Biopharma CompaniesCatalonia enables cooperation between small biotech companies (with top-level scientific projects in multiple therapeutic areas) and those pharmaceutical companies interested in such developments. In Catalonia, there are world-class research centres, hospitals and universities that are becoming the outsourcing partners within the open innovation process that pharma companies are undergoing.
Medical Technology InnovationChanging demographics and the increasing prevalence of chronic diseases are driving the demand for high-quality medical devices, diagnostic and imaging equipment, and innovative eHealth solutions. In Catalonia, there are 249 companies working in the field of medical technology, employing more than 11,400 people. Catalonia is becoming one of Europe’s hotspots for innovation in medical technology with 89 medtech companies being set up in the BioRegion of Catalonia over the last 10 years.
3D Printing for Personalized medicine3D printing has become the standard process already in the manufacturing of certain devices, such as hearing aids or dental implants. In Catalonia, there is the talent and the technology to develop 3D Printing applications in the field of health. A clear, differential asset is Hewlett Packard’s worldwide 3D printing development centre in Sant Cugat and all the related industry that is emerging near it.
Digital HealthThe management of large health data sets (Big Data), Telemedicine, electronic and mobile health (eHealth, mHealth), gamification, electronic medical histories and personal genomic sequencing are business areas being developed in Catalonia with new initiatives and local companies with innovative products and proposals. From both academia (Bioinformatics Barcelona initiative) and from the vocational training area, important work is being done to promote and strengthen the link between biology and computing. Catalonia offers a good climate to start a business in the mHealth sector: an entrepreneurship an innovative attitude, a mobile and tech friendly atmosphere (MWC – 22@ innovative district – smart city initiatives), and a deep interest and cooperation of scientists, hospitals, tech companies and government.
Increase of OTC consumer health productsProducts that do not need a doctor’s prescription at the point of purchase, such as nutritional supplements, oral hygiene products, cosmetic dermatological products, etc. are growing significantly. Catalonia is home to important and innovative local OTC and Beauty companies such as Puig, Isdin, Martiderm, Dermopharm and to the whole chain of suppliers, including advanced active ingredients and packaging.