Euro Exim Bank

Better Biotech-Spanish Biotechnology Sector, a Success Story

Over the last years Spain has witnessed the consolidation of its biotechnology sector as a consequence of the growth in the number of companies and the overall turnover, as well as internationalisation processes. Particularly since 2008, when central government support for the sector started to act as a catalyst in attracting the interest of foreign investors. Nevertheless, there has traditionally been a lack of political recognition for the role played by biotechnology in the transformation of the economy and society, as well as a lack of a clear strategy in regards to economic support for the sector, with financing being subject to immediate rather than long term factors.

That is why decisions such as regulating innovative public purchasing; the creation of the Law of Support for the Entrepreneur and its internationalisation, which includes tax breaks for investors and companies; the redesigning of the INNVIERTE programme, and the application of the Plan Profarma to the sector are all contributing factors towards creating an attractive and competitive environment for a sector that is on the rise in Spain, particularly from the perspective of project financing. Horizon 2020 and the ERDF fund, which now have a greater focus on innovation, open up the range of options for the creation of co-operative consortiums which Spanish companies have so much experience with.

According to data provided by Invest in Spain, part of the Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness, the main countries investing in Spanish Biotechnology are the Netherlands and the United States. Both countries have a critical mass of biotechnology companies with a high level of growth potential which are looking for business alliances and the joint development of new products for the international markets, Spain being one of their chosen destinations. Equally, there is interest for the Spanish market in countries such as Germany, France, the United Kingdom and Switzerland.

Interest in specific projects has already been shown by companies including Forbion Capital, Wellington, TPG, Aisling, Sofinnova, Credit Agricole Private Equity, Life Science Partners, Novartis, Novo Nordisk and Lundbeck.

Among Spain’s main advantages for foreign investors in the sector, some factors which stand out include the existence of solid scientific-technological capabilities upon which a globally competitive biopharmaceutical industry is being consolidated and, in particular, a strong scientific base, highly qualified human capital, cutting edge infrastructures and technology, an integrated health system, and governmental support, all of which lead foreign investors to show interest in the Spanish biotech sector.

The latest venture capital operations in biotechnology were carried out by Spanish investors, According to the Spanish venture Capital Association (ASCRI), although increasingly, Spanish venture capital funds are the receiving interest from the main European venture capital funds.

There are large biotechnology companies that have decided to come to Spain to build a research centre or a production plant, as is the case with Celgene, which in 2010 established the Celgene Institute for Translational Research Europe (CITRE) in Seville, or the transfer to Spain, by Pfizer, of part of its production in animal health. The fusion of the Belgian company TiGenix with the Spanish company Cellerix has also caught the interest of foreign investors since its very inception.

For some years ASEBIO has been managing the internationalisation plan for the biotechnology sector.


For some years ASEBIO has been managing the internationalisation plan for the biotechnology sector. Over the last few years, principally since 2008, this aid scheme has allowed more than 130 companies to take part in more than 35 international activities in countries in a wide range as Canada, the United States, Israel, Colombia, the United Kingdom, Italy, Austria, Germany, Sweden and France.

Biospain 2014

Last edition of BioSpain was held in Bilbao from the 19th to the 21st September 2012. The event was organised by SPRI and Biobasque, both coming under the Government of the Basque Country. The 2012 figures show the great success achieved by BioSpain and the growing importance of biotechnology in our country. In fact, in this edition BioSpain was positioned as the fifth world event in the biotechnology area regarding business development meetings and partnering, with a total of 2,775 meetings, representing a 29% increase over the former edition held in 2010. With these figures, BioSpain has risen from the seventh position achieved in 2010 to the fifth. This sixth edition was also characterised by a widespread increase in the number of participants, with a total of 1,850 sector-related professionals, from Spain and abroad, 32% more than the previous event held in 2010 in Pamplona.

With regard to future editions, 97% of attendees of the 2012 edition are considering taking part in the forthcoming edition of BioSpain.

Jointly organised in the 7th edition by the Spanish Bioindustry Association (ASEBIO) and Xunta de Galicia (Government of the Autonomous Community of Galicia), Biospain 2014 will take place in 24-26th September 2014 in Santiago de Compostela (Galicia, Spain). In 2014, Biolatam, ASEBIO’s last major event outside Spain hosted by Invest in Bogota in Bogota (Colombia) the past 9th and 10th of December 2013, comes to BioSpain as Biolatam Showcase, allowing the Latin American bioindustry to be part of one of the largest life sciences events in the world. <p>


• In 2011, the number of companies stating that they perform biotechnology activities has risen to 3,025, an increase of 76.4% on 2010, underscoring the strengthening of sense of belonging to this sector.

• 660 companies stated that biotechnology is their main and/or sole activity (biotech companies), representing an increase of 7% on 2010.

• The sector employed 202,250 people in 2011, creating 38,724 new jobs in the last year (an increase of 23.7% on 2010).

• However, focussing solely on biotech companies, employment in this group of companies has dropped by 7.61%.

• Despite the adverse economic situation, the turnover for companies stating that they are biotechnology users has increased by 26.5% in 2011, to reach 76,069 million Euros.

• In 2011, the shared GDP of biotechnology user companies amounted to 7.15% compared to 5.72% for the previous year (or 2.98% in 2008).