The entrepreneurial community of the Barcelona Science Park, comprising nearly a hundred start-ups and scale-ups that promote innovation in biomedicine and life sciences, continues to grow steadily, attracting investment and strengthening its role as an essential asset for the sector's growth.

According to the operations identified in BioRegion of Catalonia 2023 report, of the total capital invested in 2023 in the BioRegion (€220 M), nearly 40% (€85.4 M) was concentrated in the Barcelona Science Park, which consolidates it as one of the most dynamic and forward-looking R&D and health ecosystems in Europe.

Although this figure was lower than the €142 million obtained by start-ups and scale-ups linked to the Park during the historic 2022 – an exceptional year because three record-breaking mega-deals coincided in the BioRegion of Catalonia (€445 M) – the public and private funding received by these companies in 2023 is more than double the amount achieved in 2021 (€39 M). This suggests that the Park’s community continues to attract more investment, despite the difficult global geopolitical and economic environment.

Private funding (venture capital, private equity and venture debt) was the main source of investment (€67.7 M), and almost quadruples the public funding achieved in regional, national and European competitive calls (€17.7 M).

The participation of international capital in funding rounds continues its upward trend. Half of the 2023 deals involved foreign investors. Furthermore, the €27.5 million in venture debt financing provided by the European Investment Bank (EIB) reflects its willingness to invest in new disruptive projects driven by start-ups and scale-ups with distinctive impact potential.

The biotechnology and medical technology sub-sectors, with €43.7 and €24 million respectively, led the attraction of private investment in health. The most represented therapeutic areas were the nervous system, oncology and immunology. femtech, emerging technologies for women's health, and haematology are attracting increasing interest from investors.

Companies from the University of Barcelona Science Park community have obtained practically half of the financing raised by companies from the BioRegion of Catalonia. This fact, according to the director of the Barcelona Science Park, Maria Terrades, give a measure of “the Park’s relevance and position us as a key player and one of the epicentres of this powerful ecosystem.” And he adds that, in fact, these results are proof that the investment sector and public institutions trust the Park entities and their future projection: “we must continue to work with excellence so that these projects come full circle in our facilities.”

The largest operation recorded in the BioRegion of Catalonia in 2023

Inbrain Neuroelectronics led the most important operation in terms of funding registered in the BioRegion of Catalonia last year. The ICN2 and ICREA spin-off – which has created the world's first graphene neural interface for the treatment of central nervous system (CNS) diseases – received a loan of €20 million from the European Investment Bank (EIB), with which it will accelerate the clinical development of its R&D programmes for Parkinson's disease, epilepsy and speech disorders.

SOM Biotech, specialised in the repositioning of drugs for CNS diseases, closed the third largest transaction (€17 million) in the BioRegion of Catalonia with the EIB (€7.5 million), the US fund Prevail Partners and the current shareholders. The investment will be used to finance several ongoing projects: the phase IIb clinical trial of SOM3355 for Huntington's disease, and the initiation of trials with other molecules in diseases such as tardive dyskinesia (SOM3366) and phenylketonuria (SOM1311).

Nuage Therapeutics took fourth place in the BioRegion of Catalonia, with the €12 million obtained in a funding round led by Sofinnova Partners and Asabys, in which the CDTI (Innvierte programme) and Banc Sabadell (Bstartup) also participated. With this capital, the IRB Barcelona and ICREA spin-off aims to promote its project against prostate cancer and to validate its platform for the discovery of drugs that modulate intrinsically disordered proteins (IDPs).

Among the group of companies that received between €4 and 10 million in private funding are OneChain Immunotherapeutics (OCI), a clinical-stage biotech company focused on the development of CAR-T candidates for oncology diseases, which closed a pre-series A funding round of €6.7 million, and DeepUll, specialising in the development of affordable, culture-free diagnostic solutions for the early identification of sepsis and other acute infections, which received €4 million which builds on the €13 million from a series B funding round held in 2022.

Among the start-ups and scale-ups that attracted between €1 and 3 million in private equity are: Omniscope (€1.8 million), Zymvol (1,3 M€), MiMark Diagnostics (€1.7 million) and IDP Pharma (€1.1 million). Other companies that also received a capital injection in 2023 are Pharmacelera (€922,000), Kumux (€500,000) and Connecta Therapeutics (€200,000).

A leading hub for attracting public investment in health

The public funding received by the companies of the Barcelona Science Park community in 2023 reached €17.7 million, mainly from the European Commission -through various instruments of the European Innovation Council (EIC)- and from the NextGenerationEU fund, through Spain's National Recovery and Resilience Plan (NRRP).

At the top of the ranking is the biotech OneChain (€3.8 M), MiMARK Diagnostics (€3 M), GAT Biosciences (2,2 M€), Leanbio (2,1 M€) and Connecta Therapeutics (2 M€).

Several start-ups and scale-ups at the Park significantly expanded their financial capacity through competitive regional, national and European calls for proposals: Nuage Therapeutics (€861,000), Vitala Technologies (€704.000), Accure Therapeutics (€656.000), Pharmacelera (€600.000), Bioliquid Innovative Genetics (€500.000 €), Innerva Bioelectronics (€416.000 €), Aptadel Therapeutics (€325.000 €) and Real Deal Milk (€324.000 €). SiTec PharmaBio, Gate2Brain and Cytes Biotechnologies also obtained public funding in 2023.

About the Barcelona Science Park

The Barcelona Science Park is Europe's leading ecosystem for scientific, technological, and business innovation in life sciences and health. Established by the University of Barcelona in 1997, it was the first science park in Spain. With a total area of more than 100,000 m2, it is home to more than 120 companies and public entities (including 6 major public research institutes) and nearly 3,500 professionals (58% of whom are women).

One of the things that makes the Park stand out is its wide range of scientific and technological services for R&D, which it offers to both national and international companies and research groups both on the premises and off, complemented by a programme that seeks to enrich the Park’s community by multiplying interaction between its members.

Among the Park's strategic lines are the organisation of activities to awaken scientific vocation and encourage the critical spirit of students. It does so through the RESSÒ-Research in Society programme, which has been running for more than 20 years and organises 100 activities annually, reaching 7,500 pupils aged 10 to 18 throughout the country.

Fuente: Parc Científic de Barcelona

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