Catalonia: A biotech region worth competing for

catalonia biotech

With a global Spanish speaking health market valued at $276bn waiting for your products and services, and the ideal conditions to successfully position ambitious biotech and life science companies to seamlessly enter this market, Catalonia Trade & Investment recently organised a selection process for UK firms.

It gave ambitious UK life science and biotech companies the opportunity to pitch for personalised and expert assistance on entering this global market.

The event was run by the Fast-Track Programme to Barcelona-Catalonia Life Science Hub, and UK companies pitched to an expert panel that included representatives from Asabys, Amgen, Grifols, DDR, as well as Biocat, the institution that supports the life sciences and healthcare innovation sector in Catalonia.

The ideal gateway to a huge market 

The interest in Spain as a base for biotech firms is based on solid reasons that make the region of Catalonia an extremely attractive gateway to this huge life science market.

Firstly, it is already full of highly specific and affordable local talent due to its longstanding position in the pharma industry, as well as the attention the region has given to ensuring that it is evolving in line with the current market needs.

Moreover, this attractive Southern European location has no problem in attracting international professionals who often have few issues with packing up and moving to a great Mediterranean lifestyle.

Secondly, the availability of labs at extremely efficient rates means that companies can easily develop products there.

Furthermore, Catalonia is home to 12 of the largest global life sciences companies and concentrates over 50% of Spanish pharma and biotech activity. Spain also ranks 4th worldwide for the number of clinical trials, half of them being conducted in Catalonia, while Barcelona is one of the most important European cities in terms of scientific production.

The companies chosen for fast-track access

After the selection process, the chosen companies were AparitoEagle GenomicsExploristicsGBUK Group LtdKirkstallNorthWest EHealthOrphan Reach LtdPerspectum, and Talisman Therapeutics Ltd.

The companies are working in areas ranging from analytics software and wearable technologies to clinical trial platforms.

After their initial pitch to the panel of experts evaluating their proposals, they will now move on to a market access session this February.

This will be led by the UK government’s Department for International Trade and by Alira Health, an international advisory firm specialising in Spain and Latin America.

Throughout the process, they will also get introductions to investors, large corporations and suppliers in the Spanish life sciences sector.

They’ll also receive support in connecting with the region’s vast life sciences talent pool and obtaining fast track visas for international mobility, not to mention special conditions to open new premises in Barcelona-Catalonia, as well as legal, tax, recruitment, and location advice.

Reactions from the participating companies were highly positive and recognised the potential of Spain and Catalonia in helping firms grow in their sector.

“Being a leader in the life sciences and biopharma industries, Catalonia represents an amazing opportunity for Eagle Genomics to continue to grow and develop multinational partnerships and relationships,” said Maria Elena Martyak, head of product marketing at Eagle Genomics, which is supplying analytics software to the life sciences industry and applying network science to biology.

Perspectum, which develops products for the detection and measurement of liver, gallbladder, and pancreatic disease, also participated in the programme.

“It was a pleasure to present Perspectum medical technologies to such a skilled panel on the Fast Track Programme to Barcelona-Catalonia Life Science Hub. The level of engagement between the panellists and the companies presenting was a successful example on how governments should support external industry investment into their regions,” said Janete Alves, business development manager at Perspectum.

“The UK is a priority for the Catalan Government when it comes to promoting and strengthening FDI exchanges,” said Roger Costa, manager of FDI promotion & external partners at Catalonia Trade & Investment, during the Biotcat-moderated programme kick-off session. “Catalonia is a very important industrial and tech region within the European framework and the best getaway to access South American markets”.

The Fast-Track Programme to Barcelona-Catalonia Life Science Hub is an initiative from Catalonia Trade & Investment’s office in London, that works to help the UK and Irish companies to enter the Catalan market. Companies can get free support for their soft landing, such as legal advice, tax, business connections, recruitment, and location search.

This article is published as part of a paid partnership with Catalonia Trade & Investment, the Catalan Government’s agency that promotes foreign investment and business competitiveness.