The role of a knowledge-driven Catalonia in a world full of challenges

It is now 2018, a key time for Catalonia on the international scene. One of our most powerful assets is our talent and what we are capable of doing. Catalonia has to strengthen its role as a driver of the economy, politics, knowledge, social and environmental progress, and cultural creation. We want to consolidate and project an economy based on effort, entrepreneurship, innovation, capacity to work and talent. In the forthcoming years, the world will no doubt be different in all spheres, with social structures, commercial and business models, and international relations that will be changing, probably at the usual breakneck speed.  However, what we do know is that in these years we must take advantage of all the opportunities that arise to make sure the world sees that we contribute value and become an essential country. We have universities, research centers, hospitals, large scientific country-like infrastructures, and talent programs that are cutting-edge and have garnered a great deal of recognition.

Yet nothing is guaranteed. We have to keep consolidating a competitive environment pushing business activity growth upon the foundations of a solid Catalan economy that is capable of taking advantage of these coming changes. Future trends and events, like the fourth Industrial Revolution, will enable us to strengthen our entire productive capacity and our entire productive system of large companies, SME’s, and micro-enterprises by harnessing the potentialities of the most advanced technologies.

Yet we have a huge capacity to generate knowledge, a capacity that is virtually one of a kind in Europe; indeed, not only can we compare ourselves with the leading countries in research and innovation, but we do so from more complex circumstances, with the inability to fully spearhead the competitiveness policies that have been proven to be so positive. Some of these policies connect our research institutions with talent, taking extraordinary advantage of both public and private resources to generate a social and economic impact with repercussions on society. This is the pathway we must follow, since the most pressing future challenges – the ones that the United Nations is determined to meet via the 17 global Sustainable Development Goals – which are the outcome of the vast changes awaiting us, shall, by force, be addressed through knowledge. A Catalonia that is sensitive to these challenges and equipped with what it needs to contribute to providing solutions will unquestionably be an essential player on this international scene.

One of the areas destined to provide the most valuable response to future needs is the life sciences and healthcare. The steadfast focus on research in general, and on biomedical research in particular, by the successive regional governments of Catalonia through resources, programs, and outstanding institutions have borne fruit in the guise of international competitiveness. Likewise, Biocat, the solid strategic tool that the regional governments of Catalonia and the Barcelona City Council launched 12 years ago, has amply proven to be a strategic agent in the initial organization, continuous promotion and consolidation, and push to success – especially in recent years – of a life sciences and healthcare ecosystem, the BioRegion of Catalonia, which has been cited by numerous international experts as one of the most valuable of its kind in Europe with the best prospects of growth in the world.

This is why it is essential to recognize the efforts of Biocat and everyone who has contributed to making it possible for its efforts to become a benchmark of success. This government is committed to continue prioritizing the construction of a cutting-edge country in research and innovation in healthcare in order to stay abreast of the times we live in and the future challenges we will have to face.

The Honorable Quim Torra, President of the Generalitat de Catalunya and Chair of the Biocat Board


Transition to a renewed vision

2017 marked a transition phase for Biocat due to the departure of its previous director, Albert Barberà, current director of Research and Innovation in the Department of Health of the Government of Catalonia, whom we wish to thank for his work at the head of Biocat.

Before my incorporation in 2018, the company operated for a few months without a director. In this context, we congratulate the organization, and especially its team, for continuing to maintain the intense pace of activities for which Biocat is known both inside and outside our ecosystem. In 2017, not only did they continue to successfully develop the company's ongoing projects, but they also worked on a new strategic project for the ecosystem, which was launched at the beginning of 2018: the CRAASH Barcelona accelerator.

It is an honor for me to take on the direction of Biocat and to work to transform the great scientific potential generated in the BioRegion of Catalonia into tangible solutions that have a positive impact for society and for patients. In its first 12 years of operation, Biocat and the BioRegion of Catalonia have grown together and have reached a high level of maturity: our goal now is to collaborate in the next phase of the growth of the innovation ecosystem, and to position Catalonia as a global reference hub for innovation in health and life sciences.

This is a very exciting time for Barcelona and Catalonia, with positive indicators that will put the years of crisis and uncertainty behind us. We have many of the factors necessary to consolidate ourselves as an ecosystem of global reference in innovation, and this vision is shared, among others, by the more than 40 international investors who see this moment of opportunity and have already decided to invest in Catalan biomedical companies.

Biocat is currently working on a new strategic plan to help position Catalonia among the three main biomedical hubs in Europe. For this, a new strategic axis that will assume greater importance in the company’s activity is to support innovation and technology transfer: we want to be a catalyst that helps to bring BioRegion excellence research projects closer to solutions that will cure or improve the lives of patients around the world, by creating and supporting scalable companies with a global vision.

Talent is an asset that is more valuable than ever in the sector, so training will continue to be a priority axis for Biocat. Finally, we will continue to work on the knowledge, dissemination and promotion of the sector, so that the BioRegion of Catalonia will continue to be an international brand of excellence.


Jordi Naval, CEO of Biocat