Strengthening the BioRegion
Biocat’s activities in 2014 were marked by the process of reflecting on strategy that was initiated in late 2013 with a view to revising and updating the organization’s vision and mission, as well as its strategic focal points. The goal was to align Biocat’s activities with the changing national and international panorama and a restrictive economic situation.
One key milestone in 2014 came at the end of the year, when the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) selected Innolife (EIT Health) to set up a knowledge and innovation community (KIC) in healthy living and active ageing. A success for the BioRegion and recognition of the work done by Biocat, which is an associate partner in EIT Health and, since 2008, had been working to promote this bid, coordinating and dynamizing the organizations that make up the Catalan/Spanish node. These include companies like ATOS and Ferrer Internacional, and institutions and centers like the University of Barcelona, IBEC and IESE, among others. The co-location center (CLC) for the Spanish node of EIT Health will have its headquarters in Barcelona.
The successful EIT Health bid highlights one of Catalonia’s assets in innovation, the first postgraduate biodesign program in our country: Design Health Barcelona (d·HEALTH Barcelona), which is part of the Moebio talent development initiative. In 2014, the first class of health innovators graduated from this program promoted by Biocat to foster innovation in health, entrepreneurial spirit and professional development in the biomedical arena.
In the first edition, d·HEALTH Barcelona fellows identified nearly 1,200 new unmet clinical needs at Hospital Clínic Barcelona, Hospital Sant Joan de Déu and Institut Guttmann, 40% of which offered business opportunities. One of them is now a reality: usMIMA, founded by program fellows and the winner of the BioEmprenedorXXI award.
Biocat, once again, has helped take biotechnology to the main international events, like BioSpain, with more than 60 Catalan companies, and the BIO Convention, the top event in the sector in the world, which took 26 Catalan companies and institutions to San Diego (California).
Boosting the BioRegion’s international projection and the transfer of research to market is also the aim of one of the European alliances Biocat worked with in 2014: Transbio SUDOE. Under the framework of this project, one of the most noteworthy actions was the Summer School on Medicines held in Barcelona, as well as the second edition of the Transbio Emergence Forum, which brought more than 140 participants to the city for 200 partnering meetings.
Another key focal point that put the BioRegion at the center of international scientific attention was B·Debate - International Center for Scientific Debate, a joint initiative of Biocat and the “la Caixa” Foundation that has been bringing top-notch scientific events to the city since 2009. In 2014, eight debates were held, bringing to Barcelona more than 1,000 international researchers in areas like mental health, respiratory medicine, epigenetics and cancer, biomedicine and regenerative medicine, among others.
Finally, the Barcelona Clinical Trials Platform (BCTP) project must be mentioned, as it was set in motion in 2014 and will kick off publicly in 2015. This platform aims to make centers that do clinical trials in Catalonia more effective, boost their recruitment potential and inform and educate patients. This project, promoted by Biocat and the Government of Catalonia Department of Health, aims to support and build collaborative ties among the top clinical research institutes in the BioRegion, positioning Barcelona as an international hub for clinical trials.
Towards a RIS3CAT community in Health Innovation
In 2014, Biocat participated actively in creating and dynamizing the RIS3CAT community in the health arena, and in designing its strategic agenda along with ACCIÓ and other stakeholders in the sector.
The Research and innovation strategy for smart specialization in Catalonia (RIS3CAT) defines the framework under which the Government of Catalonia will carry out actions and programs in R&D&i from 2014 through 2020 and supports the creation and development of innovative projects. Under RIS3CAT, the sectors defined as strategic in Catalonia will be organized into communities. Each community will carry out initiatives to facilitate collaboration among sectorial agents, boost competitiveness and generate solutions to society’s needs. Once they have been accredited by the Government of Catalonia, these communities will be the tools through which companies and stakeholders in the R&D&i system in these strategic sectors can access ERDF funds for Catalonia 2014-2020.
Among other specific activities, Biocat has worked on mapping the sector, which has served as a base for the new Industrial Plan for the Health Sector and has called meetings with stakeholders in the system to set up the RIS3CAT Health Community, expected in 2015.