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Photo: Barcelona Science Park.

Barcelona Science Park companies break record after raising €142M in 2022

2022 has been a historic year in economic and innovation indicators for the ecosystem of companies that form part of the Barcelona Science Park (PCB), comprising more than 124 entities. The funding raised by the companies that form part of the PCB Community, in transactions identified in 2022, reached €142M, an absolute record, of which €85M (58%) came from private capital. This figure, which reflects the consolidation of the life science sector in Catalonia, comes in the year the University of Barcelona celebrates the 25th Anniversary of the PCB Foundation.

These data imply a four-fold growth in the funding achieved in transactions identified in 2021, the year in which the companies installed in the Park carried out transactions for the value of €39M. Just one  year later, individual transactions have closed that already exceed this accumulated amount in 2021. This is the case with SpliceBio, a biotechnology company for gene therapy based on technology developed at the University of Princeton, which leads the Park ranking in the amount raised in rounds.

Private funding

The ‘deep tech’ SpliceBio raised €50M, the highest third round in 2022 registered in the BioRegion, the largest series A raised by a biotechnology company in Spain and the highest round ever for a company based at the Science Park. It was recognised as “Series A of the year” at the European Lifestars Awards. The transaction was co-led by UCB Ventures (Belgium) and Ysios Capital (Spain) with the participation of New Enterprise Associates (NEA, United States), Gilde Healthcare (the Netherlands), Novartis Venture Fund (Switzerland) and Asabys Partners (Spain).

The second round in amount was closed by DeepUll which continues its gradual growth combining public and private financing. The company which specialises in the development of affordable culture-free diagnostic solutions for the early identification of sepsis and other acute infections, raised €13M in a Series B round to progress in the early detection platform for sepsis. The transaction was led by Innvierte (Ministry for Science and Innovation of Spain – CDTI), and a strategic investor that has not been made public, as well as the pre-existing participation of Kurma Partners, Alta Life Sciences, UI Investissement (advised by Mérieux Equity Partners) and Axis Participaciones Empresariales. In 2022 DeepUll also received a €20M loan from the European Investment Bank (EIB).

In 2022 Pangaea Oncology, connected to Barcelona Science Park as an associate company, has carried out one of the most relevant transactions this year in the Spanish stock market BME Growth. The company, leader in precision oncology medical services, has secured €12M through two capital increases. The new shareholders have been led by relevant institutional investors.

Standing out within the group of companies that raised between €1M and €3M in private funding are: Newborn Solutions (€2.7M); CIRCE Scientific (€1.71M), GAT Biosciences (€1.33M) and GAT Therapeutics (€1.5M). Other companies in the Park that achieved an investment of less than €1M are Bioliquid and IDP Pharma.

“The Park continues positioning itself, with the activity it generates, as a fundamental part of the Diagonal Health Hub. The figures of strong growth in financing and investment carried out by our entities are a sign of the trust and commitment to these projects, most of which portend a very hopeful future for the whole health ecosystem, starting with industry and ending with the patient. I also want to highlight the success of SpliceBio, a company that is strongly connected to the Park, which has become the highest third round in a territory as competitive on a European scale as the BioRegion”, explains Maria Terrades, Director of the Barcelona Science Park.

Public funding

Various companies in the Park turned to public funding in 2022 through regional, national and European tenders for aid, to considerably expand their financing capacity.

This is the case with INBRAIN Neuroelectronics, a spin-off of the Catalan Institute of Nanoscience and Nanotechnology (ICN2) and ICREA, which was chosen to receive funding from the EIC Accelerator programme of €17.5M for its role as a strategic company for Europe’s Healthcare Innovation. The investment will support the development and marketing of its graphene neural interface.

Aptadel Therapeutics, a pre-clinical company co-funded by IDIBELL developing the first therapy based on RNA nanoparticles against the childhood cancer, Ewing’s Sarcoma, raised €3.65M in public funds in 2022: €1.87M from a Eurostarts grant (EUREKA programme and Horizon 2020 from the EC) and €1.78M aid from the Ministry for Science and Innovation through the State Programme of R&D&i Aimed at Society Challenges of the State Research Agency (AEI).

For its part, Gate2Brain, a spin-off of the University of Barcelona (UB), the Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB Barcelona) and the Sant Joan de Déu Research Institute (IRSJD)- Sant Joan de Déu Hospital (SJD)– received a total of €3.12M in public funding in 2022 to boost the preclinical regulatory stage of its drug G2B-002, targeted at brain tumours with intact barriers: €2.5M from the EIC Accelerator programme; and other aid from the CaixaResearch Consolidate call of “la Caixa” Foundation and the Neotec programme of the Centre for the Development of Technology and Innovation (CDTI).

Other outstanding transactions of companies installed at PCB involved Newborn Solutions -focussed on the development of a first-in-class device for the non-invasive detection and monitoring of childhood meningitis and other infections in serous body fluids- which obtained €3.48M:  €2.5M from the EIC Accelerator programme, and other contributions from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and the Listen2Future project, a KDT JU (Key Digital Technologies Joint Undertaking) within the Horizon Europe programme.

Other companies that raised between €1 and €3M  are: OneChain (€3M); Oxolife, (€2.4M), MiMARK (€1.2M), IDP Pharma (€1.2M), GAT Therapeutics (€0.8M), Roka Furadada (€0.8M) and Dan·na (€0.4M). Three of these companies: OneChain, MiMARK and Dan·na are part of the BCN Health Booster accelerator, created by the Park in 2021 with the collaboration of Barcelona City Council, Barcelona Activa and Biocat. And among those that won public tenders for less than 1M it is necessary to mention CIRCE Scientific (€0.6M), Bioliquid Innovative Genetics (€0.5M), Nuage Therapeutics (€0.2M), GAT Biosciences (€0.2M) and Pharmacelera (€0.2M).

Consultancy firms and venture building

For its part, the consultancy firm GENESIS Biomed contributed to the creation of 2 new startups and spin-offs (Anais Medical and RetinaReadRisk) and helped close two rounds of funding for another two that were already incorporated (Mowoot and Thytech) for €1.6M. Also, in 2022 with FI Group and Crowd4Ventures, to continue GENESIS Ventures funds, currently in a divestment phase, the company incorporated its second vehicle, GENESIS Tech Transfer Boost, with €1M for the next 4 years and aimed at early stage projects in the field of healthcare research. In 2022 it was recognised with the Best Biomedical Consultancy Firm Award at the 11th edition of the “El Suplemento National Awards” and closed the year with a turnover growth of 28% compared to the previous year.

Finally, in 2022 Arian Internacional, a strategic consultancy firm in internationalisation and European funding for innovation, specialising in technology startups, advised 23 startups and SMEs, 75% of which led by women, working on the development of their strategy of international growth and access to European funding (EIC Accelerator, EIT Health, Eurostars, Innowwide and WomenTech EU). The results of the advised companies in the biotech sector, 11 in total, have been very positive, obtaining more than €5M in public grants and €16M in venture capital.