The health startup ecosystem in Catalonia has managed to defy the downward trend seen across the globe, with a staggering 87% increase in investments recorded from the previous year. This is data from the Study on investment in Life Sciences & Health sector in Catalonia 2022 promoted by CataloniaBio & HealthTech and EY. The study presented recently revealed that investments in the biotech and Medtech sectors in Europe and the U.S. experienced notable declines in 2022. However, the Catalan ecosystem continued to thrive and reached an impressive figure of €445 million.
Venture capital (V.C.) funds remain the go-to funding source for companies in Catalonia, with consolidation as the primary source of financial support. These funds have helped raise €445 million in the past year, representing 77% of the total. Over the past year, there have been noteworthy deals such as Medtech Impress, which secured €122 M, and the biotechs Minoryx Therapeutics and SpliceBio, each raising over €50 M, making them the most significant players in their respective sectors.
“Catalan companies know how to open up to new markets, which investors consider key to giving visibility to the health sector”
Joan Puig, president of CataloniaBio & HealthTech
Silvia Ondategui, EY Global Partner of Life Sciences, commented, “In the U.S. and Europe, investment in the biotech and Medtech sector has registered a significant decline during 2022. Contrary to this international trend, in Catalonia, investment in startups in the health sector has increased by 87% to reach the figure of €445M due to an investment of more than €200M in three companies. It remains to be seen how it evolves in 2023“.
By subsectors, MedTech is experiencing a steady rise in investments, with the current figure at €193 million. This is a significant increase from the €7 million invested in 2018. Biotechs have also bounced back from the funding gap experienced in 2021 and have set a new record with €185 million invested.
The digital health sector has achieved €39 million in capital, and operations increased by almost 20% in 2022. Furthermore, service providers and other companies in the ecosystem have witnessed a substantial capital increase raised, with €28 million generated in 2022, compared to just €22 million in 2021.
Regarding the source of investments, it’s worth noting that local shareholders still have a strong presence. Around 90% of shares for each company are owned by Catalan investors, except for larger pharmaceutical companies that tend to rely more on foreign investment. Of course, this pattern does affect the average for startups. Nevertheless, it’s worth pointing out that there is a growing trend in international investment. For instance, digital health companies in Catalonia are already seeing an average of 14% of foreign investment.
“The year 2022 marks a clear trend towards success in attracting and investing foreign capital. However, companies have the challenge of maintaining this trend and demonstrating that international interest is not just the merit of a few companies in specific cases. And Catalan companies have also known how to open up to new markets, which investors consider key to giving visibility to the health sector,” says Joan Puig, president of CataloniaBio & HealthTech.
Collaborations between companies in the health sector and research institutes continue to generate added value. Interestingly, microenterprises, SMEs, and research centers have been the primary partners that companies have collaborated with in more R&D projects, with 35% and 28%, respectively.
Regarding the sector, Catalan biotech companies are the ones that most collaborate with other micro and small companies, with 56%. In the service companies, it’s worth mentioning that the digital health group regularly collaborates with micro-enterprises and research centers (38% and 32%, respectively), and the service sector is the one that collaborates most with universities, with 37%.
Regarding research areas, oncology has been the main area where efforts have been focused, with 22% of companies carrying out R&D projects. However, other areas, such as advanced therapies, have also been a common focus for companies in the sector (especially in MedTech), the second area where most effort has been invested.
The study’s data is based on direct surveys of member companies and institutions of CataloniaBio & HealthTech. This year’s report includes the investors’ perspective, providing a new and complementary view of the sector.
8 out of 10 companies reported having achieved the objectives they had set themselves for 2022. Product development companies, part of the biotech and Medtech sectors, achieved their goals in 71% and 82% of the cases. In addition, 92% of the digital health companies also achieved the objectives, while in the service sector, the affirmative answers represent 71%. The pharmaceutical industry has shown a high performance despite the extraordinary results of 2021, with 100% of the pharmaceutical companies surveyed admitting to having met the objectives set.
Both companies and investors are satisfied with the performance of the health sector in 2022. Most of the companies have met the objectives they had set themselves despite the adverse circumstances. Furthermore, investors perceive and value the industry’s resilience in Catalonia as an example of the ecosystem’s quality and the sector’s professionalism.
Catalonia Trade & Investment is the public agency that works to attract foreign investment to Barcelona and Catalonia, promoting the area as an attractive, innovative and competitive business location.