The activity of companies and organizations in the BioRegion is intrinsically global, but even more so in a year when international cooperation was significantly increased, bringing about new business and funding models and driving more effective collaboration among stakeholders. Actions to position and boost the international influence of the BioRegion are one of Biocat’s three strategic pillars and, in this line, actions have been carried out to forge new alliances with the main European and international stakeholders, to project and raise awareness among the international community of the assets and potential of public and private entities in the BioRegion and to connect our ecosystem with international markets and environments that are key in the life sciences and healthcare sector.
It goes without saying that 2020 was a difficult year for carrying out the activities planned in this area. We had to cancel or postpone missions and events designed to boost the business development opportunities for our companies (mainly with India and China), and others had to be moved online. Nevertheless, 2020 was an intense year in terms of our participation in events to project the ecosystem, providing virtual services to visitors and delegations, activity with European alliances and networks, participation in European projects and consortia, and participation in workgroups to respond to the pandemic.
We hosted or took an active role in several online scientific diplomacy events (webinar “Sweden and Catalonia: minds and talent at work” with the Delegation of the Government of Catalonia to the Nordic countries and support from STUNS, and the Barcelona-London Innovation Day hosted by SciTechDiploHub, among others).
We led proposals for projects to be funded through H2020 (HEALT-IT+, Social Reactor, BRIGHT), one of which was later assessed for funding (in 2021).
Likewise, we signed a memorandum of understanding with a Chinese entity (iCCAMT-International Co-Innovation Center for Advanced Medical Technology) to facilitate access to the Chinese market for companies in the BioRegion. And, of course, we continued to collaborate with our strategic partners like ACCIÓ and its foreign offices, hosting specific events to connect companies in the BioRegion with partners and investors in China (BIOCAT/ACCIO: Webinar biotech Cat/China) and the US (Disruptour ACCIO/Biocat Silicon Valley).
We also strengthened our bonds with the top European life sciences and healthcare clusters through CEBR (Council of European BioRegions) and forged new ones with the European Clusters Alliance (ECA), taking part in actions to resolve disruptions due to Covid-19, and with the European Enterprise Network (EEN), European Cluster Collaboration Platform (ECCP), and European Entrepreneurial Regions (EER).
In this regard, Biocat was once again appointed to be a CEBR board member, one of the main European associations of clusters and ecosystems in the life sciences and healthcare, representing SMEs and research organizations from all over Europe. Biocat, which has been a member for many years, played an important role in 2020 by organizing and coordinating various activities to improve synergies between the organization’s strategy and our ecosystem, and coordinated workgroups like the Special Interest Group on the Next Generation EU funds.
Capitalisation Boost4Health INTERREG NWE
The Capitalisation Boost4Health INTERREG NWE project aims to reinforce and promote the international competitiveness of biotech and medtech SMEs in the European ecosystem, helping boost the TRL of pharma, biotech and medtech projects. In 2020, the Boost4Health began its capitalization period, through which it seeks to accelerate growth and boost internationalization of SMEs in the life sciences in a larger area of north-western Europe, efficiently increasing the project’s impact on more companies. This was achieved by expanding the B4H network and methodology to two new regions (North Rhine-Westphalia and Ireland) and more actively targeting SMEs in subsectors like digital health and nutrition. Biocat attended all the partner meetings and networking activities for this project.
EATRIS+ is a project that aims to support the long-term sustainability of the EATRIS infrastructure, providing innovative science tools for the research community, strengthening its financial model and reinforcing the leadership of EATRIS in the European Research Area (ERA), especially in research and development of personalized medicine (PM). Biocat took part in the following tasks: 1) Helping analyze national and European stakeholders to draw up the communication plan; 2) Hosting two events for collaboration between industry and academia; 3) Hosting a panel discussion with European bioclusters; and 4) Facilitating connections with other bioclusters and networks of SMEs. The project also included attending partners meetings and various events hosted by the consortium.
The Peer2scale-Health project is based on peer-learning among four regional healthcare agencies that act as clusters: Biocat, Eurasanté, BioM and LifeTech.Brussels.The activities under this project in 2020 included hosting a workshop on scaling up, benchmarking the best practices in acceleration programs and drafting the Design Options Paper, a document with all the results of the project.
Collaborations with other projects
• Biocat took part as an associate partner in the CRG ORION Open Science program, which seeks to explore new paths for opening up to society the way research in the life sciences and biomedicine is funded, organized and carried out. Biocat attended the yearly meeting for the project and provided support for dissemination.
• We also collaborated on the Codex4SMEs project, which is working to facilitate and improve adoption of personalized medicine in north-western Europe. It aims to set up a network to support SMEs throughout the value chain developing companion diagnostics (Cdx). The goal of this collaboration was for companies in the BioRegion of Catalonia to benefit from the project’s network.
• Collaboration on the EER Med Tech Action project, supporting ACCIÓ as a regional partner, to increase the number of innovative startups and scaleups in medical technology.