Life Sciences live a healthy life in Catalonia

With a pharma industry as a historical driver of the local economy, life sicences activities account today for 6% of Catalan GDP, have an annual turnover over €11,000 M, and employ some 35,000 people in over 500 companies. The sector includes all fields of life sciences, pharmaceutical, medical technology and biotech. 

As a destination of foreign investment projects, between January 2003 and December 2014 Catalonia was the fourth Western European region in terms of job creation in the life sciences sector and the second, in terms of medical technologies.

The origins of pharmaceuticals in Spain is today a great place for international pharmaceutical companies

Within the context of Spain, Catalonia concentrated 46% of Spanish pharmaceutical production during 2008-2013 and 36.33% of Spanish pharmaceutical exports during the period 2003-2014 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. Furthermore many international companies have established here, such as Novartis, Sanofi, Boehringer-Ingelheim, Bayer, Pfizer, Roche, Menarini, Pierre Fabre, BBraun, GE Healthcare, Zoetis, Otsuka, Invent Farma, Intas, Accord, AstraZeneca, Synthon or Angelini, to mention just a few. Know-how, talent, infrastructures and a strategic location, make Catalonia the right place from which to operate in South European markets and beyond, including North Africa and Latin America.

The biotech connection

Catalonia is the leading biotech region in Spain, holding 22% of Spanish biotech companies. Amgen, the world's first biotech company,  has its Iberian headquarters in Barcelona. 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.  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, Traiber, Avinent, Grifols or Texpol- and leading medical devices companies. Among these last ones we can find Olympus, Roche Diagnostics, Hartmann, Biokit, Dako-Agilent, BBraun, Siemens, GE Healthcare, Stryker, Siemens, Boston Scientific, Hologic, Gore, Menarini Diagnostics, Azbil, Johnson&Johnson or Zimmer.

Catalonia’s active research climate gives added dynamism to the life sciences sector

Catalonia has 56 research centres with a joint budget of more than €380 million yearly working in life sciences or related disciplines (nanotechnology, photonics, etc.). These centres have formed over 900 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 7,200 people, 4,500 of which are researchers, and the 17 Catalan university hospitals have more than 3,500 researchers devoted to biomedical research. The recognition of seven Catalan research centers as “Severo Ochoa” centres of excellence, out of a Spanish total of 18, is a positive indicator of the level and impact of the Catalan research system.

Seamlessly connected to an advanced clinical trials research network

Barcelona Clinical Trials Platform (BCTP) is a strategic instrument promoted by the Catalan Health Department at the Government of Catalonia and Biocat (the organization that coordinates and promotes the life sciences sector in Catalonia), to improve the coordination, integration, quality, and speed of clinical trials in the region. The initial list of member institutes includes 7 university hospitals with overall clinical research capacity of 5 million patients and 2000 investigators to which BCTP provides a single point of access. Currently, more than 3000 trials are ongoing, either in one site or across multiple sites.

A sector with great business opportunities

  • New developments in chronic diseases

    In 2030 around 24% of the Catalan population will be over 65, a fact that is increasing the number of secondary interventions and chronic diseases. In fact, chronic patients now account for 20% -25% of the total and consume 65% -70% of the resources. This means that multinational pharmaceutical and biotech companies are devoting more resources to research drugs for diseases in this area: ranging, for example, from cancer to Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
  • P4 medicine: Personalized, Predictive, Preventive & Participative

    Medicine is becoming less reactive and more preventive. This means empowering both the patient and the physician with more personalized medical treatment — focusing on integrated diagnosis, treatment and prevention of disease in individual patients. The healthcare industry, public policy sector, and consumer industries are currently creating new and creative business models and products to lead this transformation. 
  • Nutraceutical products & probiotic foods

    Nutraceuticals are products that provide health and nutrition benefits in addition to the basic nutrition value present in foods. The global nutraceutical market (functional foods, beverages market and dietary supplements) was valued at around $250 billion in 2014. This market is expected to reach around $385 billion by 2020, at a compound annual growth rate of 7.5% from 2014 to 2020. In the area of prevention the use of probiotic foods that offer health benefits is also on the increase. 
  • Strategic partnerships, joint ventures & acquisitions

    With pharmaceutical companies struggling to launch new therapies given the difficulty in obtaining R&D resources, they have realized that the performance of its internal innovation is lower than what you can get through alliances. This has led to more alliances between companies and R&D Centers both nationally and internationally, to smaller biotech companies becoming a source of new discoveries that can be sold to large companies, and to companies specializing in their more profitable business units and getting rid of lower performing units.
  • Increase of OTC consumer health products

    Thanks to lower regulation both in price terms and in development controls, laboratories get higher returns from products that do not need a doctor’s prescription at the point of purchase, such as nutritional supplements, oral hygiene products, cosmetic dermatological products, etc. In Spain the consumer health market has grown at a rate of 2.1% annually since 2010, according to figures from IMS Health. 
  • The generic medicine market and biosimilars

    In 2020, about 70% to 80% of medicines will be generic or biosimilars, according to the study of the EGA, European Generic Association.  In the same year it is expected that patents for drugs with a cumulative sales valued $ 259,000 million will expire. In Spain— one of Europe’s largest generic manufacturers —only between 2014 and 2015, eight patents will expire on molecules accumulating over 500 million sales, representing huge opportunities for new generic drugs.

    Biosimilars are an area of major interest for both innovative and generic pharmaceutical companies. They refer to medicines developed to be highly similar to existing biological medicines (the ‘reference medicine’). Since 2006, when they were first approved, the EU approved biosimilar medicines have generated more than 400 million patient days of clinical experience worldwide. 6 biological medicines with sales of €10.1 billion in 2013 in Europe will lose exclusivity by 2020, offering huge opportunities for biosimilar medicines
  • mHealth and eHealth growth

    The global mHealth market is expected to reach around $23 billion in 2017 and to concentrate in Europe, North America and Asia Pacific. There are more than 97,000 health apps according to the last IMS Institute for Healthcare informatics study. eHealth and mHealth allow the provision of healthcare services at a distance, improve healthcare system efficiency and enhance patient care. Telemedicine (remote medical assistance) is extending to new services, from the fall prevention to the management of chronic diseases.

    Catalonia offers a good climate to start a business in the mHealth sector: an entrepreneurship an innovative attitude, a mobile and tech friendly atmosphere (WMC – 22@ innovative district – smart city initiatives), and a deep interest and cooperation of physicians, hospitals, tech companies and 

Great business opportunities

New developments in chronic diseases, P4 medicine, nutraceutical products & probiotic foods, OTC consumer health products, the generic medicine market and mHealth and eHealth growth in Catalonia are great opportunities for strategic partnerships, joint ventures & acquisitions, trade and profitable investments in Southern Europe.

Barcelona Biomedical Research Park

Research centres and talent

Catalonia’s active research climate gives added dynamism to the life sciences sector

Hospitals and clinical trials

Seamlessly connected to an advanced clinical trials research network

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