BCN Health Booster accelerator companies raise €51.8m in the first year of the programme
The first generation of companies participating in the BCN Health Booster accelerator programme raised €51.8m in public and private funding during 2022, the first year of its launch. The figure represents a 106% increase compared to the €49 M they had already raised before joining this programme, led by the Barcelona Science Park (PCB) and the Barcelona City Council, with the support of Barcelona Activa and the collaboration of Biocat. These and other figures have been presented at the biotechnology fair BioSpain 2023, which is taking place at the Fira de Barcelona in Montjuïc from 26 to 28 September.
The BCN Health Booster accelerator has an investment of €1 million and a duration of 3 years, and was created in the context of the Barcelona Science Plan to promote innovation in health and the return to society of investment in research. The Barcelona City Council’s contribution is €468,936, of which €343,240 will go to partially subsidise laboratory rentals at the PCB, and €125,696 to finance Biocat’s business support programme. For its part, the PCB invested €685,334 in adapting new spaces to house the accelerator in the Clúster II building.
According to Maria Terrades, director of the Barcelona Science Park, “Accelerated companies have gained financial muscle; they have grown their human team; they have given greater prominence to women in their management structure; and they have opted to combine local and foreign talent”. For Joan Guàrdia, Rector of the University of Barcelona and President of the Board of Trustees of the PCB, “BCN Health Booster has demonstrated in just one year that the interweaving of research, transfer and social impact are fundamental for the development of the city and the country as knowledge societies”. For his part, Jordi Valls, Deputy Mayor for Economy, Finance, Economic Promotion and Tourism of the City Council, said that “this increase and consolidation of startups in health has a direct impact on the welfare of citizens and the sustainability of the city” and stressed that “through initiatives such as BCN Health Booster, the research centres, universities, hospitals and organisations that make Barcelona a benchmark city at international level in all these areas are highlighted”.
Eleven participating companies
The 11 companies selected are the following five spinoffs and six startups: Adaptel, Artificial Nature, Bioliquid, DeepUII Diagnostics, GAT Biosciences, GAT Therapeutics, MiMark, Nuage Therapeutics, Ona Therapeutics, OneChain and Zymvol. By the end of 2022, the private investment of the 11 companies participating in the programme reached €16.4M, and the uptake of public funding exceeded €35.4M. In addition, during the same year, the companies received a 65% subsidy on laboratory rental at the Barcelona Science Park and a free business support programme from Biocat, with more than 185 hours of personalised training, mentoring and consultancy.
When they joined BCN Health Booster, the companies had already secured part of the intellectual property with a total of 17 registered patents. During the first year of the programme, this figure increased by 12% to 19 granted patents and 30 pending. The main indications where innovations are being carried out have not changed during the first year of the programme’s activity: seven companies are in the discovery phase of therapeutic products, three are developing diagnostic systems for different diseases, and one is developing biomaterials for the health sector. More than half (64%) are working in the field of oncology.
In 2022, accelerated companies increased their workforce by 48%, from 66 to 98 professionals. Female leadership also increased by 43%: the number of women in senior positions increased from 14 to 20. By the end of the first year of the accelerator, all the companies had a female presence in the management or founding team.
Financial support, tailor-made advice and access to capital
The Barcelona Science Park has allocated an area of 527 m2 in the Cluster II building for the accelerator. In 2022, the 11 selected companies received a 65% subsidy on the rental of laboratories and general services, representing a total amount of 184,794.96€. In addition, the companies had access to a free Biocat business support programme, adapted to their needs, which included 9 hours of training and 176 hours of mentoring and consultancy in strategic areas such as business plan development, tech-transfer, intellectual property, regulatory aspects, effective communication, market access, financing and internationalisation.
In parallel, Biocat provided personalised support to facilitate relationships with private funding sources and pharmaceutical groups. During 2022, it promoted more than 55 actions to boost the connection of companies with investment funds/corporates, and offered all BCN Health Booster companies the possibility of registering in its InvestBioRegion Portal programme, a matchmaking platform to promote licensing, co-development and financing agreements between emerging projects in the BioRegion and the private sector. These and other indicators of the BCN Health Booster’s first year were officially presented at the BioSpain 2023 biotechnology fair, held 26-28 September in Barcelona.