Networks and programmes to promote the internationalisation of SMEs

Throughout 2013, Biocat has continued to actively participate in the European Council of BioRegions (CEBR), of which the CEO of Biocat, Montserrat Vendrell, has presided over since 2012. In January, the Biocat team took part in the annual meeting of the Council, which was held in Mallorca. On 20th and 21st June, the 'Successful cluster positioning and internationalisation beyond Europe' seminar, took place in Turin (Italy), where Biocat presented its experience in giving support for internationalisation of businesses, and a few weeks after, in July, it hosted the annual meeting of the Steering Committee of the CEBR in Barcelona. The year of activities with the CEBR culminated with the participation in a conference on clinical innovation held in Stockholm on 21st and 22nd November (ICT and life sciences in meeting clinical and patient needs, Sectorial cluster convergence and the role of the cluster manager) and in the Horizon2020 for Cluster Managers workshop, held in Brussels on 2nd December

In addition, Biocat has taken on the role of General Secretary of the European Diagnostic Cluster Alliance (EDCA), whose mission is to promote internationalisation, competitiveness and collaboration among SMEs working in in-vitro diagnostics (IVD). Notable among the most important activities carried out during the year was the incorporation as a new member of the Medicen Paris Region cluster (June) and the promotion of the Catalan participation at the Euromediag International Convention (25th-26th September in Montpellier). Also, in July a document was presented evaluating the proposal for the new European Commission on the regulation of medical devices for in-vitro diagnostics (IVD), which the European Parliament must approve for it to enter into force in 2015.

Access to strategic markets

With the aim of improving the access of biotechnology and medical technology SMEs to the three strategic markets (the United States, China and Brazil), Biocat has continued working as a partner in the European project, bioXclusters (2012-2013), financed by the European Union. The other partners are the LyonBiopole (Rhône-Alpes, France), BioM (Bavaria, Germany) and BioPmed (Piedmont, Italy) bio-clusters and the economic promotion agency Entreprise Rhône-Alpes International (ERAI).

In 2013, we organised, in collaboration with ACCIÓ, the 'Promoting Internationalisation (II): China' conference, with the presence of Gao Ronghui, life sciences consultant. This activity was given continuity with a mission to China to find new business opportunities which took place in May and in which 13 European companies took part, three of them from Catalonia (Enantia, Janus Developments and Archivel Farma). The bioXclusters partners signed two collaboration agreements with two of the main scientific parks in Shanghai: the Shanghai Juke Biotech Park, with whom Biocat already had an individual agreement; and Zhangjian Hi-Tech Park. The mission also took part in two sectorial partnering events: the 15th Shanghai International Forum on Biotechnology & Pharmaceutical Industry (BIO Forum Shanghai) and the Sino-Euro Bio-Partnering (SEBP).

For the USA, under the bioXclusters aegis, Biocat and ACC1Ó organised, on 9th April, the 'Promoting Internationalisation (III): United States' conference, with the participation of Dr Karin Hollerbach, founder and CEO of the Taku Group of consultants. It was organised by the trade mission to the USA, from 28th to 30th October, and was mainly aimed at SMEs and research organisations in the field of personalised medicine. Attendees took part in sessions with experts on accessing the North American market and were able to see at first hand the Healthbox and MassLander accelerators and the Massachusetts Biotechnology Council (MassBio).

Finally, it is worth mentioning that the trade mission to Brazil, organised in 2012, has already borne its first fruits in the form of a collaboration agreement. In April, the four European partners of the project signed a memorandum of understanding with the Fundação Instituto Polo Avançado da Saúde de Ribeirão Preto (FIPASE) to stimulate collaboration between European and Brazilian SMEs in the field of the life sciences. And, in September,Biocat travelled to Brazil with a delegation from the European Commission and eight leading European life science clusters to encourage interchange with institutions and companies from the country. The 2013 mission was centred around ‘BioPartnering Latin America’, a benchmark event for the sector in South America; the European delegation visited the facilities of Bio-Rio, Rio de Janeiro's biotechnology hub, the business group Axis Biotec and the Ambio company, all located in the park.


European technology transfer projects

In addition to the projects aimed at finding new markets, Biocat is also part of alliances whose aim is to encourage the transfer of research in the health sciences to the market. One of these projects is Transbio SUDOE, driven by new partners from eight regions of southern Europe: Université Toulouse III-Paul Sabatier (Midi-Pyrénées, France), Instituto de Tecnologia Quimica e Biologica (Lisbon), Universidad de Santiago de Compostela (Galicia), Institut Européen de Chimie et Biologie (Aquitaine, France), Universitat de les Illes Balears and BioIB (Biomedical Cluster de les Illes Balears), Université Montpellier 2 Sciences et Techniques (Sole-Roussillon, France), Fundación InnDEA (Valencia) Biocat.

Transbio, which provides continuity to the Interbio project (2009-2012) was launched in April of 2013 and comprises a total of 32 organisations, including partners and collaborators. In Catalonia, the associated organisations are the Parc Científic de Barcelona (PCB), the Parc de Recerca de la UAB (PRUAB) and CataloniaBio.

Among the most notable activities of the year was the organisation of the Summer School of Medicine SSM5 and the holding of Transbio Emergency Forum in Montpellier (25th-27th September), a partnering event to facilitate inter-regional collaboration agreements between companies and research organisations. More than 200 meetings were held between companies, research centres, technology transfer offices and scientific-technical platforms. From the BioRegion, Oryzon, Aniling, Leitat Technology Center, Laboratoris Ordesa, the Centre for Research in Agricultural Genomics (CRAG) and the Centre for Technological Nutrition and Health (CTNS) of the Universitat Rovira and Virgili all took part.

Another project in the field of the transfer is Health-TIES, a consortium formed by Medical Delta (Holland), Oxford and Thames Valley (United Kingdom), the Canton of Zurich (Switzerland), the region of Debrecen (Hungary) and Biocat with the aim of promoting innovation in medical technologies and bringing the research in this area closer to the needs of patients. The project, started in 2011, ended at the end of October with a meeting in Debrecen (Hungary).

In 2013, HealthTIES Findings Seminar was organised under the umbrella of the Biotrinity 2013 fair; it hosted a visit from the members of the consortium to Barcelona so they could acquaint themselves with the assets of the BioRegion, in which the PCB, the Bosch and Gimpera Foundation, the PRBB and the CRG collaborated and the final documents of the HealthTIES Dissemination plan and the Wider Societal Implications of the HealthTIES project were produced.

The last international project to be highlighted is the ETT-BIO cooperation programme, which produces a catalogue of criteria for evaluation of the transfer of technology in order to identify good practice in the participating regions and to bring together a collection of regional policy recommendations and implementation plans.

The ten organisations that work on the project, funded by the European Union, met in March in Barcelona, where they brought together the analysis reports on technology transfer from each region in order to identify opportunities for collaboration. At the September meeting in Warsaw work began on the catalogue of recommendations.