Moving forward in a time of transition

Biocat’s activity in 2015 addressed the four strategic focal points established as a result of the organization’s strategic reflections in 2014: knowledge and projection of the sector; leading and coordinating large strategic system-wide projects; developing talent and entrepreneurship; and business valorization and growth. This aims to reinforce the lines of work in which Biocat has a proven track record as well as those to add more value to the Catalan life-sciences ecosystem.

One: Knowledge and projection of the sector

In 2015, additional sessions were held of B·Debate - International Center for Scientific Debate Barcelona. This initiative of Biocat, with support from the “la Caixa” Foundation, brought together more than 1,000 and participants and 226 speakers for the ten sessions held in 2015 to debate regenerative medicine, plant genetics, impact of climate change on health, synthetic biology, biomedical research and mental health, among other issues.

In order to improve interaction among stakeholders in the sector and boost international visibility, in 2015 Biocat launched a new website, a source of information where foreign companies and organizations can learn about the companies, research groups and bodies, hospitals, universities, administrations and the support structures for knowledge and innovation transfer that make up the ecosystem.

Preparing the 2015 Biocat Report was another of the core projects that kept the team busy this year, which will see the light – with an innovative format in terms of contents and shape – in the first quarter 2016.     

Two: leading and coordinating large strategic system-wide projects

The large strategic projects Biocat has kicked off this year include the Barcelona Clinical Trials Platform (BCTP), an initiative promoted in conjunction with the Government of Catalonia Ministry of Health. After a first phase to define the concept, in 2015 BCTP worked to pool public and private resources to start working. BCTP strives to make talent and technology in research institutes available for clinical trials and integrate them into medical practice through personalized medicine.

2015 also saw the kick off of EIT Health, the largest European initiative in innovation and entrepreneurship for healthy living and active aging. EIT Health has nodes in Spain, Germany, France, the United Kingdom/Ireland, Belgium/Netherlands and Scandinavia. EIT Health Spain, which Biocat has worked very hard to promote and is currently an associate member of, has 50 core partners and 90 associate partners from 14 countries in the European Union that are committed to innovation in health and its impact on improving quality of life for society in general. The node hopes to generate 70 start-ups per year and get one million students involved in its programs.

Three: developing talent and entrepreneurship

Biocat continues to foster entrepreneurialism in the medical technology arena through the program Design Health Barcelona (d-HEALTH Barcelona), which is one of only four European training programs inspired by the Stanford University biodesign methodology that has fellows identify business ideas by participating in the every-day operations at hospitals in the city, including Hospital Clínic, Sant Joan de Déu and Institut Guttmann.

Since Biocat kicked off this training program in 2014, 100% of the graduates in the two classes are still working in the health sector and two thirds are still working at their own start-up. Plus, the six teams of fellows that finished the program have established five start-ups, four of which are still active.

Plus, Biocat once again opened up some of the d·HEALTH Barcelona sessions to the public through the MOEBIO Short Programs, training sessions geared towards students, professionals and entrepreneurs to give them practical knowledge on key aspects of healthcare, innovation, management and business spirit.

Four: business valorization and growth

With the aim of giving the sector access to information and knowledge on innovative trends, key issues in business and scientific development and internationalization, as well as promoting networking among stakeholders in the sector, Biocat held a series of events throughout 2015, noteworthy of which was Health & Bio Team Dating. Nearly 80 scientists and managers participated in the event, which brought science and business together with the aim of creating new business projects. Organized by the Banc Sabadell BStartup program, along with Biocat, CataloniaBio and the Bosch i  Gimpera Foundation, more than 200 meetings were held during the event.

Biocat and CataloniaBio worked together again in 2015 on the second edition of the Lessons Learned project, offering sessions aimed at allowing professionals from companies in the healthcare and life sciences arena to share their experiences and to network. More than 350 people came to the six sessions held throughout the year, where experts on strategy and product development, legal and financial issues shared their expertise, experience and viewpoints on key issues for the development of companies in the sector.

Another event Biocat held and organized in 2015 was the workshop Innovating in Medtech. Experiences and collaborations from EU and USA, which brought together one hundred people. This event, under the framework of the European BILAT USA 2.0 project, worked to identify key aspects of regulatory issues, reimbursement and market access when introducing a new medical technology device, focusing especially on the regulatory differences between the EU and the US.

Biocat also led international missions for the BioRegion, fostering the presence of Catalan companies and organizations in the US market by leading a delegation to BIO Convention 2015, the top biotechnology fair in the world, which took place in Philadelphia (United States) from 15 to 18 June 2015, with a total of 37 Catalan organizations -29 companies and 8 institutions.

This was in addition to other missions organized by Biocat, including the one to Japan and South Korea in February, the Catalonia-Netherlands Technology Bridge in October, participating in BioEurope in November, and going to the first Health Forum in Bucaramanga (Colombia) in November, among others.

Participation in international projects

Once again this year, Biocat has headed up or participated in projects funded by the European Union that have channeled European resources towards Biocat’s priority lines of action, including technology transfer, training and entrepreneurship, and internationalization to benefit companies and organizations in the biocluster.

In 2015, Biocat participated in the preparatory phase of a whole range of European projects that, once approved, will be carried out in 2016 and 2017. These include initiatives like bioXclusters+, which gives biotechnology SMEs the tools they need to boost international competitiveness in strategic markets like the United States, China, Brazil, Japan and Australia; and ENTBIO, a project that carries on where previous initiatives INTERBIO and TRANSBIO left off, focused on creating and growing biotechnology companies by promoting entrepreneurship and higher education.

Another project that will kick off in 2016 is BOOST4HEALTH, an Interreg north-west Europe program to help SMEs from northwestern Europe to grow internationally by launching innovations from the life sciences on the European market.

Approval for the Onconet SUDOE project is expected in 2016. This Interreg SUDOE program aims to establish a permanent network of excellence in oncology by mobilizing healthcare stakeholders in the SUDOE region around prevention, diagnosis, care and translational research.

Finally, Biocat also participated in and promoted several events under the BILAT 2.0 program, under the European Union 7th Framework Program to promote cooperation in research and innovation among stakeholders in Europe and the US and encourage policies and strategies that foster bilateral collaboration.