Health startups in Catalonia raised 238 million euros in 2021, a record figure

Catalan Economy

27 Jan 2022

Investment in health startups in Catalonia continues to grow and again surpassed the €200 million mark for the second year in a row, despite the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the BioRegion of Catalonia Report presented by Biocat.

In total, companies raised €238 million, the most to date. Venture capital funding was the main driver of this growth, with more than €187 million, or 79% of all capital, three times as much as in 2019.

International investors

83% of the venture capital raised was in operations with international investors. In fact, more than 90% of operations worth over €10 million are syndicated among investors established in Catalonia and international investors.

Investors are mainly from Europe (51) and the United States (31), including noteworthy firms and international corporate ventures like Boehringer, Kurma Partners, Idinvest, Pontifax, Roche and Wellington.

In 2021, a total of 36 operations were closed, fewer than the previous year (41) but worth more each on average. It is worth noting once again the investment channeled through crowd equity platforms, which has been more than €10 million a year since 2019.

Investment trends

Regarding the investment trend, 2021 stood out for the increased investment in medical technology, which was 2.4 times more than in 2020.

This increase was mainly due to two important venture capital operations: €41 million invested in Impress in what is currently the largest round that the BioRegion of Catalonia has ever seen, and the €25 million attracted by Corus Dental, both companies that work in dental health.

Furthermore, digital health companies have seen nearly twice as much investment as in 2020, consolidating the increase in funds raised for the fifth year in a row with over €60 million.

“Without a doubt, 2021 was an exceptional year,” said Biocat CEO Robert Fabregat. “The ecosystem has continued growing despite the pandemic, generating highly valuable research and innovation and attracting local and international investment”.

One startup a week

The startup creation rate in recent years has been one new company per week, with a noteworthy increase in new biotechnology firms working on therapies, up 31% since 2018.

Most of these companies are spinoffs of universities and research institutes like BSC, lCFO, IDIBAPS, IJC, IGTP, IMIM, IRB, Hospital SJD, UPF, and UB.

Investment from local VCs

In addition to the growing number of international investors, Catalonia is also seeing more consolidated activity from solid, specialized VCs established in Catalonia, which invest actively in the ecosystem and outside of the Catalan sphere.

For the second year in a row, the capital committed by local funds was roughly €100 million. Each day that goes by confirms that the Catalan ecosystem has a growing number of specialized investors backing local innovation.

A growing sector, despite the pandemic

The 2021 Report also looks at other macroeconomic and innovation indicators for the life sciences and healthcare sector, including companies’ turnover and employment figures, which are up despite the pandemic and have had an impact on the sector’s GDP, now 8.7% of the Catalan GDP (up 1.4% from 2018).

The sector has over 1,300 companies, which export over 50% of all life sciences and healthcare products from Spain, employs 244,000 people (more than 8% of the working population of Catalonia), and is consolidating its place as one of the most attractive hubs in Europe with international innovation centers arriving on a regular basis.

In this regard, as announced by the CEO of ACCIÓ- Catalonia Trade & Investment Natàlia Mas, “Catalonia has attracted over €700 million in foreign direct investment (fDi Markets) over the past five years in the life sciences and healthcare arena, mainly from Germany, the United States, France, and Japan. This foreign investment has translated into 3,000 new qualified jobs.”

In fact, according to the international rankings, Barcelona is the most attractive location in southern Europe to invest in an R&D center in the life sciences, due above all to its top-notch talent and quality scientific facilities,” she highlighted.

All in all, Mas summed up that the Report shows “Catalonia is a unique setting in Europe given its combination of a strong local industrial fabric in healthcare and the life sciences, an ecosystem of cutting-edge startups, benchmark multinational corporations in this arena, and a strong network of research bodies.”

Download the BioRegion of Catalonia Report

Source: Biocat

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