Skip to main content
< Back to news
The Report of the BioRegion of Catalonia 2023 was presented in an event with over 700 professionals from the sector. Foto / Biocat.

The healthcare entrepreneurial ecosystem in Catalonia raises €220 million in 2023

Healthcare startups and scaleups in Catalonia secured €220 million in 2023, a year that was complicated by the global geopolitical and economic situation. However, investment in the healthcare entrepreneurial ecosystem held steady at the level prior to the exceptional year in 2022, with over €200 million for the fourth year in a row. This is just some of the data from the 2023 BioRegion of Catalonia Report, presented this morning in Barcelona at an event with over 700 professionals from the sector. The study, published since 2009 by Biocat -based in the Barcelona Science Park- has become the most solid and wide reaching analysis of the assets, achievements and trends in the life sciences and healthcare sector in Catalonia within an international framework.

Venture capital remains the main source of investment for startups and scaleups, with €114 million (52%). This figure is down from the previous year, mainly due to the cautiousness of financial environments in all international markets and the decrease in capital available, which made it more difficult to put together large investment operations and, as a result, to attract international investment.  So much so that in 2023 in Catalonia 58% of all private capital secured included international investors, which while noteworthy is far lower than the figure for the previous year (95%).

If we compare venture capital investment in 2023 to the previous year, the drop is more significant because 2022 was an exceptional year. Startups and scaleups in Catalonia secured €445 million in investment, mainly due to three large operations that coincided in the same year: a megaround of €122 million closed by Impress that made up 27% of all funding raised, and the two biggest biotech rounds ever in the BioRegion and Spain: €51 million raised by Minoryx Therapeutics and €50 million secured by SpliceBio.

The second biggest source of funding was competitive grants, which saw an all-time high of €60.8 million (27.5%), helping offset the drop in venture capital. Venture debt also hit a record high with €28 million (13%), followed by crowdequity (4%) and the stock market (3.5%).

Looking at the trend in investment by subsector, the rebound in digital health companies was noteworthy, and at €63 million was close to the all-time high of €64 million in 2021. This compares favorably to other international markets, where investment dropped. The 61% increase from the previous year was mainly due to important operations like Qida (€18 million), Iomed (€10 million) and Top Doctors (€8 million).

Despite the drop, biotechnology firms secured more investment than any other segment in 2023 with €110 million, fueled by operations like SOM Biotech (€17 million), Nuage Therapeutics (€12 million) and Oryzon Genomics (€8 million). The medical technology subsector attracted €45 million, holding steady at the 2020 level.

In terms of investment by type of technology, the 85 healthcare startups and scaleups in Catalonia that work in AI (artificial intelligence) applications raised over €73 million in 2023, the highest figure in history, and have seen steady growth over the past 5 years.

The 2023 Report also looks at other macroeconomic and business indicators for the life sciences and healthcare sector, which made up 7.9% of the Catalan GDP in 2022. The sector has over 1,400 companies, which export more than 30% of all life sciences and healthcare products from Spain, employs 264,000 people (more than 6.5% of the working population of Catalonia) and is consolidating its place as one of the most noteworthy healthcare innovation hubs in Europe.

In fact, Catalonia and the Barcelona metropolitan area are constantly welcoming international innovation centers and multinational corporations, which in the past 5 years have set up 25 new hubs of excellence. These include AstraZeneca, which helped beat records in 2023 in foreign direct investment (some €1.025 billion) and new jobs created (some 1,843).

“The sector continues growing and this can be seen in the healthcare innovation indicators in the Report, the many business and research initiatives from all the stakeholders, and also the strategic countrywide projects like the Innovation Adoption in Healthcare program and the Advanced and Emerging Therapies Network of Catalonia. These initiatives will drive the digital transformation, improve treatments and the ecosystem’s sustainability, and fuel the shift towards the personalized medicine of the future,” declared Biocat CEO Robert Fabregat.

Biocat CEO Robert Fabregat. Photo / Biocat.

Excellence in healthcare innovation and research

Catalonia is among the top 10 countries in the world in participation in clinical trials, ranked 5th in Europe and surpassed only by countries like France, Spain (with Catalan centers taking part in 88.5% of all active clinical trials in the country), Italy and the United Kingdom. On the global ranking, led by the United States and China in the first two positions, Catalonia is ranked eighth. In terms of clinical areas, 34% of the clinical trials Catalan centers take part in are in oncology, where Catalonia is ranked fourth in Europe and seventh in the world.

The timeframe for research and new therapies having an impact on patients is reflected in the BioRegion’s pipeline, with 73 therapies in total being developed in a wide variety of clinical areas, led by oncology, the central nervous system and dermatology. Nearly 70% of the treatments are close to hitting the market and becoming available to the public (phase II and III).

The pipeline includes 19 advanced therapies in clinical development, where oncology is once again the main area of research. Hospital Clinic Barcelona (FCRB-IDIBABS) is the most noteworthy, having developed the first CAR-T therapy in Europe for multiple myeloma and CAR-T ARI-0003, its third therapy, for lymphoma.

Pere Aragonès, president of the Government of Catalonia. photo / Biocat.

President of the Government of Catalonia Pere Aragonès and Catalan Minister of Health Manel Balcells took part in the event. In this 2023 edition, the report was published and presented to the public thanks to support from Amgen, Almirall, AstraZeneca, Alira Health, Cuatrecasas, Esteve, Pfizer, Roche and Sanofi, and with collaboration from ACCIÓ, CataloniaBio & HealthTech, Farmaindustria and Fenin. The presentation kicked off the second “Barcelona Health Innovation Week”, organized by Biocat and dedicated to innovation, acceleration and technology in the healthcare sector. This week, there will be over forty activities showcasing the richness and diversity of the life sciences and healthcare ecosystem in Barcelona, which is exactly what the BioRegion of Catalonia Report shows.

► Read the BioRegion of Catalonia 2023 report [+info]