The biotechnology sector continues with the good pace of previous years. Private investment increased by 20% compared to the previous year, surpassing a record, with a total of more than 180 million euros in 41 operations, as detailed in the Asebio report 2021presented this Thursday by the Spanish Association of Biocompanies (Asebio). There are other issues in which there have been hardly any changes: international investors are still interested in this sector and, in addition, they participated in the largest operations in the sector, as explained by Ion Arocena, general director of Asebio. The crowdfunding it continues to be an important source of financing for the sector.
Another aspect that was highlighted during the presentation is that the activity of these companies has generated more than 10,336 million in income, which represents 0.9% of the national GDP. Its turnover amounts to more than 12,000 million euros. In addition, this industry contributed 121,755 jobs, 0.7% of the total national employment.
However, there are also negative aspects to this report. the main but is that the investment of the biotechnology sector in R&D was reduced, for the first time since 2014, by 10% compared to the previous year, according to Arocena, due to the effect of the pandemic and the health emergency. Almost 900 million euros were invested in 2020, 6% of the national investment. Despite the decline, the sector remains among the top positions in R&D investment intensity, after R&D services and the education sector.
“Biotechnology has an impact on 13 of the 17 sustainable development goals”
During the presentation, which took place at the ICEX headquarters, more than a dozen Asebio partners took a tour of the attribution that biotechnology makes for the fulfillment of sustainable development. “Biotechnology has an impact on 13 of the 17 sustainable development goals”, Arocena has influenced. One aspect that those present have focused on is the importance of cooperation and collaboration between the different actors in the sector biotech. Ana Polanco, president of Asebio, has insisted that it is the key to success in recent years: “A close collaboration is what made possible, in 2021 and also this year, this wave of innovations that provide solutions that society is suing.”
Other issues that continue to rise is the expansion of the business fabric. If two decades ago there were barely fifty companies that were strictly dedicated to biotechnology, the current figures considerably multiply this figure: “Today we have 860 Spanish companies that are working day by day to find solutions to improve the lives of millions of people on the planet and promote sustainability”, explained Polanco. The areas in which the work of these companies is most concentrated are human health and food. These companies are included in the almost 4,000 that carry out biotechnological activities. Catalonia is at the forefront in the number of companies biotechfollowed by Madrid and Andalusia.
Not only is there interest in the business world, but students are also interested in studying biotechnology, despite its high cut-off mark. For example, at the University of Almería, the current cut-off mark to access this degree reaches almost 11 points out of 14; if it is at the Polytechnic University of Madrid, the mark rises to more than 13. The number of people enrolled in university studies that have been registered during the 2020-2021 academic year exceeds 8,700, between degrees and master’s degrees. 60% are women. Biotechnological companies are the sector, after those dedicated to R&D services, with the highest percentage of researchers over total employees, with 13.23% of the total.
“Our economy as a leading country in scientific production would undoubtedly be better,” added Polanco. That is why he has assured that they will continue working so that the sector is the protagonist of the necessary transformations. They have the support of several ministries, but they request that they look at the biotechnology industry so that it is incorporated into the entire value chain of R&D and innovation “because in it they will find a willingness to collaborate, a commitment to science and innovation and a vector of transformation towards a more sustainable and resilient economy”.
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