The confluence of institutions from all areas of the value chain, from the university to the company, gives a special dynamism to the Galician biotech space.

“A real turning point”. This is how the Clúster Tecnolóxico Empresarial das Ciencias da Vida de Galicia (Bioga) defines the past year for the biotechnological ecosystem of the community. After a 2022 of growth, both in the number of companies and in turnover, during 2023 Galicia consolidated this progression, positioning itself as the second most bioentrepreneurial autonomous region in Spain, according to the data provided by the Asebio 2023 Report. A situation that has attracted the attention and interest about what is happening in the northwest corner of the peninsula both in terms of new projects and investment in an area that is presented for the coming years as “the lever” to promote innovation in more traditional sectors of the economy.

In this sense, last year Bioga welcomed 21 new members that allowed it to exceed for the first time the hundred associates, totaling 115. In addition, with institutions from areas throughout the value chain, from universities, research centers and technology centers to biomedical foundations, companies and investment funds.

This is precisely what makes Galicia stand out in the national biotechnology sector, as it is a very dynamic business ecosystem, made up of highly innovative startups that arise thanks to the transfer of knowledge from universities, as well as SMEs in the process of expansion and large companies that are beginning to show their ability to boost the business fabric of the community.

That is why, with a view to 2024, Bioga points out that the objective is to stabilize and strengthen this position, having already passed the halfway point of the Consolidation Strategy that the sector set for the period 2021-2025. But, thanks to this tailwind, they do not lose their ambition and will also seek to ensure that Galician biotechnology achieves greater international expansion, so that Galicia can be a reference not only at the national level, but also at the European level.

However, in order to achieve this, it is essential to attract funds and investments, especially in a period in which the rise in interest rates makes project financing substantially more expensive. In this aspect, Bioga has already proposed solutions such as the promotion of Bio&Tech Smart Capital -the Galician investment fund specialized in biotechnology-. This does not mean that everything is done. The sector stresses that it is essential to maintain public-private collaboration and attract new investors to make larger bets, in order to facilitate the scaling of those companies that have already demonstrated the viability and success of their business model.

To do this, they have a very important endorsement and that is the growth potential of a sector that has already been designated by the European Commission as one of the key areas, along with Artificial Intelligence or quantum technology, to increase the competitiveness and modernization of the European Union industry. Moreover, in the case of Galicia, it is expanding in economic areas as diverse as the management and use of marine resources, the production and use of agricultural, livestock and forestry products or the development of new technologies for personalized medicine, in addition to the production of drugs and vaccines. Always with a focus on environmental sustainability and circular economy. In short, a sector fully aligned with the main economic and social challenges that lie ahead in the immediate future.

The turnover of Galician biotech companies last year amounted to 1,500 million euros, which represents approximately 2% of the community’s GDP. Bioga forecasts that during 2024 the growth path of the sector will increase, exceeding 1,700 million euros at the end of the year.

The biotech sector generates 5,600 direct jobs in Galicia. This figure is growing at around 10% per year. Therefore, Bioga’s objective for 2030 is to reach the figure of 10,000 people involved in biotechnological activities, with a high percentage of employees dedicated to research and development tasks.

“Biotechnology is starting to make the Galician economy more dynamic”.

Interview with José Manuel López Vilariño, president of Bioga:

  • It is reasonable to think that public-private collaboration is fundamental to generate a strategic sector around biotechnology. Has this collaboration been effective?

Undoubtedly, the public-private collaboration promoted in recent years has been essential to provide the business fabric with the necessary tools to generate an ecosystem conducive to its growth and consolidation, with a special focus on retaining and attracting talent, promoting entrepreneurship and generating value through the transfer of research results. With these support tools, growth has been higher than expected, exceeding at all times the expected indicators, which indicates that the bet made has been correct and that it is time to maintain it, in order to begin to reap the fruits of a good and intense work.

  • In this sense, Galicia will hold its autonomic elections on 18-F. What do you expect from the government that comes out of the polls?

Mainly two things: that they analyze the growth that has been achieved and that they are capable of seeing where they can go. Blind faith is not necessary, that moment has already passed, because the numbers and the growth achieved endorse the potential of the sector. It is true that biotech companies need long periods of maturation, but right now it is possible to observe a solid structure, with a great capacity for growth in a sector with very high added value. When we talk about betting on the future of a region, we have to focus on areas that are capable of boosting the economy, and biotechnology is beginning to achieve this in Galicia. It is necessary to continue on this path of public-private collaboration that provides predictability and prolongs actions and commitments.

  • Biotechnology companies are already generating employment in Galicia, do you think that this is a sector that can help to avoid the drain of talent trained here?

Undoubtedly, and this drain or retention of talent is possibly one of the most important aspects that will define the evolution of the Euroregions in the coming years, differentiating those that are committed to growth based on knowledge. Today, the only way to retain highly qualified workers is through ambitious, medium- and long-term projects, and the only way to attract productive investment is to guarantee the presence of talent.

  • And in the short term, what are the challenges facing the sector?

The challenges we face to consolidate the sector are multiple but, in addition to retaining and attracting talent, I would highlight the mobilization of investment capital that allows companies to grow and develop new products and services, digitalization and internationalization. Biotechnology is growing at an accelerated rate in the countries around us and those who lag a little behind due to the loss of some of the levers of support may miss the opportunity to be an active and valuable agent.

Original news: Bioga exceeds one hundred members and consolidates as a reference in the state biotechnology sector ( – 05/02/2024.

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