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Maria Terrades with the representatives of the entities that explained their projects in this edition of the meeting (Photo: PCB).

The Park holds the first ‘Coffee Connection’ of 2023 to enhance synergies between its community

On Thursday 16 March, the first 2023 edition of Coffee Connection, Barcelona Science Park’s biannual networking meeting, was held to promote the collaboration and an interchange of experiences and knowledge among its community. On this occasion, the CEO Maria Terrades announced two very significant initiatives to expand the spaces of the Park, and five entities —G&L Healthcare, Vitala, SK8 Biotech the Institute of Bioengineering of Catalonia (IBEC) and Welab Barcelona— explained their most groundbreaking projects. AseBio was the guest presentation. AseBio also participated, as a guest entity, to present BioSpain 2023.

Maria Terrades, CEO of the Barcelona Science Park, opened the meeting, highlighting that the Park is at full capacity. “We no longer have any free space left for laboratories or offices. Now, our commitment is to work to expand our facilities and respond to the high demand of the life sciences sector which continues growing.”

In this regard, she announced the construction of Clúster III, “a new 10,000m2  building dedicated to the field of health research, which will be located on the island of the South Campus of the UB, at the current headquarters of the School of New Interactive Technologies (ENTI in its Catalan acronym).” This initiative forms part of the Strategic Project (MIES-UB), promoted by the University of Barcelona (UB), the Catalan Government and the City Council to promote research and talent in the fields of Mathematics, IT, Economics and Health (MIES in its Catalan acronym) at the Diagonal Campus. Ms Terrades revealed that the Government will finance the new building through the Incasòl, “however, it will be the Park that will manage the services afterwards.”

Terrades also reported the commissioning of another large-scale project: the renovation of the CUB Building (initially intended as an auditorium), which will involve the refurbishment of an additional 1,900 m2 to be used as laboratory spaces. This project also includes an increase in the height of the building, which will go from having one floor to three. “We have submitted the request for the works licence for the change of use and the increase in the roof height to the City Council.” She then added, “that now we have a clear picture, we are starting on the search for funding, amounting to around 6 million euros.” The formula provided is the one used by the Park on previous occasions: the investor will cover the cost of the works and will later recover the invested capital of the rental income and cost-effectiveness made from the occupation of the spaces. “We already have demand, so we know that the space will be filled. We estimate that the building will be available for use at the beginning of 2025.”

In addition to emphasising this period of maximum occupation and expansion of spaces covered by the Park, Terrades also highlighted the economically stable situation achieved thanks to the recent debt refinancing. The positive EBITDA and the fulfilment of the feasibility plan achieved in recent years has allowed the PCB to refinance the expired debt of €36.7 M with the Ministry of Science and Innovation. “The Park is the most influential life science hub in Southern Europe, attracting talent from all over the world, but it has been bearing a historical debt with the Ministry of around 40 million euros. We have worked hard, for a long time… and in February we have signed for the refinancing over 25 years. The Park’s economic balance is guaranteed. This financial consolidation allows us to now start work on new buildings and new spaces in order to continue growing”.

In conclusion, the CEO of the PCB communicated the implementation of a new Multi-purpose Room in Tower R “There are now 3,500 people in the Park, and this new space will have a positive effect on our everyday lives.”

Innovation and talent … The voice of its protagonists

The presentations of the projects of the Park’s entities began with Pablo Tramútolo, the Business Development Director at G&L Healthcare, one of the most recognised scientific consulting companies in the world, with more than 25 years experience at the forefront in the field of regulatory and quality assurance.

Next to take the floor was Gabriel Bestard, CEO of Vitala Technologies, an IBEC spin-off which established itself in the Park with the mission of revolutionising the field of pre-clinical analysis of new drugs, through more sensitive, economic and bioethical technologies than those already existing, such as organs-on-a-chip.

Teresa Galán, coordinator of the MicroFabSpace & Microscopy Characterization (MicroFabSpace) of the IBEC gave details on the services offered by this state-of-the-art infrastructure (which forms part of ICT NANBIOSIS) for the micro-fabrication and characterisation of biomedical devices.

Xavier Cordony, head of Partnership and Consortia of Welab Barcelona, explained the activity and advantages of this R&D platform for new medications, which seeks to provide the technical capabilities, knowledge and experience in the search for new therapeutic solutions to currently uncovered medical needs, through collaborations with research centres and biotech and pharmaceutical companies.

Jennifer Otero, scientific director of SK8 Biotech Europe, who recently joined the Park, explained the company’s activity, dedicated to the research and development of bacteriophages, as well as its production on an industrial scale. A cocktail of bacteriophages to fight against salmonella has recently been patented.

Finally, Stuart Medina, director of International Business Development and Promotion at AseBio, encouraged all attendees to participate in BioSpain 2023, an edition that coincides with the 20th anniversary of the event, and which will be held from 26 to 28 September in the city of Barcelona bringing together more than 1,500 professionals in the sector from around the world.

The meeting concluded with the traditional coffee-networking session, a space to promote the interchange of opinions and experiences, and to encourage the generation of collaborations and synergies between the Park’s community, in a relaxed and pleasant environment.