Health & Life Sciences

A world-class network of medical institutions, hospitals, research centres, biotech startups and pharma companies has turned Barcelona and Catalonia into a leading life sciences hub.

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Barcelona-Catalonia, a hotbed for innovative life science businesses.

Top global companies that have installed their production centers and R&D departments in Catalonia and already trust the excellent pool of local providers are Boehringer Ingelheim, AstraZeneca, Sanofi, Novartis or Roche, to mention just a few.

The health, well-being and life sciences industries include a wide range of sectors like pharma, medical technologies, biotechnologies, cosmetics, veterinary and nutraceuticals; as well as diverse agents like hospitals, insurance companies, universities and clinics.

Global leaders in pharma and life sciences

Catalonia is Europe’s densest pharma environment. It is the birthplace of the five biggest Spanish pharmaceutical companies (Almirall, Esteve, Ferrer, Grífols, and Uriach) and home to 1,300+ companies in the life sciences industry (2021). Compared to 2020, the number of companies has increased by 8%.

Catalonia also concentrates half of the industrial pharma companies in Spain: a total of 79 industrial plants are located in the region and have 15,806 employees.

Exports represent €7.78B in life sciences and healthcare products (2021), Catalonia being Spain's number 1 exporter region in this sector. Furthermore, since 2008, capital investment in Catalonia’s life sciences companies has multiplied by 12, and life sciences startups are the 2nd most numerous within the Catalan startup ecosystem.

A hotspot of research and innovation activity

​​​​​​​Catalonia has 91 leading scientific, technical and research centers working in the health, well-being and life sciences industries. Major scientific facilities include the Alba Synchrotron, the MareNostrum Supercomputer or the National Genome Analysis Centre.

Internationally renowned hospitals which perform groundbreaking work in different medical fields are the Hospital de la Vall d’Hebron, Hospital Clínic, Hospital Sant Joan de Déu or Hospital Quirón, among others.

“The school of work in health sciences in Catalonia is extraordinary”

Jaume Vives, Managing Director Roche Diagnostics

  • 1,300+ companies

  • €21.33B in turnover

  • 57,718 employees

Catalonia, a leader in clinical trials in Europe and the world

Catalonia is ranked among the top 10 in the world in number of participations in clinical trials. Looking only at oncology, this position rises to the European Top 5 and remains in the World Top 10, as it does for other leading specializations.

Since 2001, the number of clinical trials carried out in Catalonia has continued to increase and, in the past ten years, the figure has doubled. Catalonia is currently participating in over 1,200 active clinical trials to test new therapies and drugs in patients.

At a European level, Catalonia ranks 6th in number of participations in trials and 8th worldwide, only behind countries like the United States (9,532), Canada (1,905), France (1,896), United Kingdom (1,633), Spain (1,595), Germany (1,583) and Italy (1,460). Moreover, Catalan centers take part in 75% of all active trials carried out in Spain.

Investment opportunities in digital health

Catalonia has a fast-paced, expanding medical devices sector and a strong digital health technology ecosystem. The large and innovative pool of companies, together with the early-adopter Catalan society, makes our region the perfect place for developing digital health solutions.

In the last decade, the number of companies in Catalonia in digital health has multiplied by 10. Today, more than 200 companies work in the sector and some of them have set up digital hubs in Barcelona-Catalonia, such as Teladoc Health, Zur Rose-Profarma, Sanofi, Novartis, Roche Diagnostics, and Ypsomed.

In the medical devices area, we can find international companies such as Bbraun Surgical, Roche Diagnostics, Qiagen, Grifols Diagnostics, Werfen, Hartmann, or Avinent.   

A powerful beauty and wellness industry

​​​​​​​The beauty and personal care industry is a broad sector that includes the areas of cosmetics and make-up, fragrances, personal hygiene, and skin and hair care. It is a highly internationalized sector in Catalonia, with 576 companies, that account for nearly half of Spanish industry exports.

Regarding wellness and well-being, there is a growing number of Silver Economy companies in Catalonia mostly engaged in the fields of health and quality of life.

Main players and events.

Check below which are the main institutions and players that make Barcelona-Catalonia life sciences sector a success.

Related success stories.