Outstanding biotech rounds and increase in available funds

In July, two of the most important biotech crowdfunding rounds of the year was closed. IMIDomics, spin-off of the Vall d'Hebron, has closed a round of financing of $16.5 million, and the Catalan company VEnvirotech, which uses bacteria to transform organic waste into biodegradable plastic, raised €11 million.

Moreover, GroenlandiaTech intends to open a funding round in January or February 2022 to boost international growth. Right now, the startup from the BioRegion, which develops traceability and temperature control solutions for healthcare logistics, wants to land into central and northern Europe after having consolidated its national success. Also a funding round for spinoff Exheus is being prepared with its sights set on the European market. The company specializing in mRNA testing has broadened its product portfolio and is now ready to expand into Spain, despite having been set up only three months ago.

As for investment funds, Asabys Partners has announced that it has reached €86.4 million in its first healthcare fund to focus on life sciences projects, especially biopharma, digital therapy solutions and medtech. Capital Cell has also protagonised a major milestone: in just seven months, it is already on the verge of exceeding the total funds it raised last year: €13.9 million. Currently, the equity crowdfunding platform has five rounds underway, which aim to raise between €4 to €6 million.

Meanwhile in industry, Hipra plans to kick off the clinical trials for their Covid 19 vaccine in August after successful pre clinical testing against the different variants of the virus. Grifols has announced that a production plant for intravenous solutions will be built in Nigeria. The winner of the Best Company of 2020 awards organized by El Periódico, Reig Jofre, has strengthened its international investment in the UK by acquiring 100% of its subsidiary to consolidate its position in the country.

New scientific hub in Barcelona and cutting edge research in hospitals and research centers

A major breakthrough came with the agreement between the 'la Caixa' Foundation and Barcelona City Council to set up the CaixaResearch Institute, a new research center in Barcelona promoted by the 'la Caixa' Foundation and dedicated to healthcare and life sciences. Due to its proximity to CosmoCaixa, the facility will be a new scientific hub at the foot of the Collserola mountain range that will combine top notch international research with bringing science closer to society. The "la Caixa" Foundation has also announced its support for 9 projects selected in the CaixaResearch call on Health Research 2021 for Catalan research centers. These are biomedical and health research projects par excellence, as part of a program that has selected a total of 30 projects from research centers and universities in Spain and Portugal. The total allocation is €22.1 million.

As for research, the latest study published by researchers at the Hospital Clínic in Barcelona aims at switching chemotherapy treatment in young women with low risk breast cancer for an alternative treatment with injections for five years. This same center, together with the Hospital Sant Joan de Déu and the Fetal and Perinatal Medicine group at IDIBAPS, has shown that people born with low birth weight show differences in their heart structure and function. As for Covid 19 research in Catalonia, the Foundation University Institute for Primary Health Care Research Jordi Gol i Gurina (IDIAPJGol) has announced that several research projects related to persistent Covid 19 are being carried out. Moreover, the Catalan multinational pharmaceutical company Hipra will receive funding from the European Union to lead a research project on Covid 19 and its variants.

Talking about hospitals, the SJD Barcelona Children’s Hospital has become the first hospital in Spain to have a control center where a team of professionals can access and evaluate a large volume of key data on the functioning of the hospital in real time, so as to regulate the flow of patients and improve hospital management. The Vall d'Hebron University Hospital has also been recognized as the first hospital in Spain to have a medicine dispensing robot designed 100% for pediatric patients. The robot makes it possible to increase patient safety and improve the traceability of each container of medication. In addition, this same center has made headlines for having performed the first lung transplant in Spain on a post Covid 19 patient.

Entrepreneurship made easier

After the Barcelona City Council announced in June that it would make it easier for entrepreneurs to start up in the city, this month the Spanish government took a step towards improving the startup ecosystem by approving the draft Startup Law, a measure that reduces taxes, increases tax exemptions for stock options and creates a special tax regime for digital nomads.

In the same vein, Barcelona is one of the three most popular cities to set up a startup, just behind London and Berlin, according to the Startup Heat map Europe 2021, a sign of the city's ongoing commitment to attracting talent and generating knowledge. This is how Tech Barcelona (until recently, Barcelona Tech City) has announced the creation of new headquarters and thematic hubs with the aim of having different Urban Tech Campuses. The only one that already has a location is the health one, which will be established in Via Laietana and is expected to be ready by the end of 2021 or early 2022.

A new startup has been created in the BioRegion this July: Innervia Bioelectronics has emerged from a partnership between the pharmaceutical company Merck KGaA and InBrain Neuroelectronics. The goal of this collaboration is to jointly develop novel graphene bioelectronic devices for vagus nerve therapies. Developments have also been announced in two BioRegion's digital companies: LactApp and Social Diabetes. The first has been selected by a jury of experts in the social innovation sector, investors and representatives of UNICEF Spain and ISDI, to generate positive impact for children and adolescents around the world. The second has signed a global partnership and data integration agreement with Innovation Zed Ltd., the developer of the new Insul Pen add on device "InsulCheck CONNECT", a collaboration that will allow them to join forces to promote and sell their products as a unique integrated system to improve health for people with diabetes.

As part of its commitment to promoting entrepreneurship and contributing to the development of talent in the BioRegion, Biocat has launched Ignite·Health Barcelona, a new 4 month hybrid program where participants will learn the keys to becoming successful entrepreneurs in the health sector. If you are interested, deadline for registration is 27 August!

Recognition and awards

The Vall d'Hebron Institute of Oncology (VHIO) has been accredited by the Ministry of Science and Innovation as a Severo Ochoa Center of Excellence, a distinction that recognizes the best research centers in Spain and guarantees them stable funding of €1M per year for four years. Moreover, the director nurse of the Anoia Healthcare Consortium has been awarded the International Award of Catalonia 2021, along with three other outstanding women in the field of medicine from different European countries, who have played a decisive role in the fight against Covid 19.
This month has also seen the names of the new delegates of the Regional Ministry of Health and the territorial managers of four health regions of the Catalan Health Service.

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