Catalonia health startup investments in 2022 top €296M to overtake 2021 tally

Barcelona. Photo/

Life sciences organization Biocat says midyear investment in startups in the BioRegion of Catalonia in Spain is 2.5 times higher than the same period last year, at €296 million ($301 million).

The total for the entire year 2021 was €238 million ($242 million).

The first semester included a round of €100 million ($101.8 million) by Impress, which helped surpass the total secured in all of 2021. Venture capital remains the main source of investment, at 87% of the capital raised. This is followed by the stock market, public grants and crowd equity.

Regarding the investment trend, the rebound in investment in biotechnology was noteworthy, which at €150 million ($152.7 million) surpassed the previous high-water mark of €147 million ($149.6 million) in 2020. 

The increase was mainly due to two venture capital operations: €51 million ($51.9 million) invested in Minoryx Therapeutics and €50 million ($50.9 million) in SpliceBio. Also of note is the growth in the medical technology subsector, which with €110 million ($112 million) saw an all-time high.

total inversio 1q2q2022

This first half of 2022 closed with a total of 25 venture capital operations, 95% with international participation.

International investment

The participation of international venture capital in the BioRegion of Catalonia has grown in recent years, to 110 international investors. The most significant growth was seen between 2019 and 2022, when the number of international funds invested in healthcare business projects doubled (43 to 110), also coinciding with an increase in the total investment secured.

In general, the international investment funds that invest in the BioRegion are mainly from Europe (67%) -most from the U.K, France and Germany– the U.S.(26%) and Asia (12%). Kurma (France), Mangrove Capital (Netherlands), Idinvest (France) and Fund+ (Belgium) are the international funds that have co-invested in the most startup rounds in the BioRegion.

The participation of specialized venture capital funds established in Catalonia, like Ysios, Alta Partners, Asabys, Invivo Capital, Inveready and Caixa Capital Risc, is key to the success of these operations. 

According to Joël Jean-Mairet, founding partner of Ysios, “with just one or two local operators that want to co-invest in a round, we can find international capital to go along with it. What matters is that the projects are interesting.” 

inversio subsector 1q2q2022

Biocat CEO Robert Fabregat added: “Having funds based in Barcelona has been one of the key factors for attracting international capital to Catalonia, along with top-notch research and talented entrepreneurs and researchers.”

In terms of areas of investment, 41% of the co-investment rounds went to biotech companies, and the rest were spread fairly evenly between digital health (30%) and medtech (23%) startups.

The next six months

The upwards trend in operations and investment seen in the BioRegion this first semester of the year is far from the general international situation for all segments of the industry, particularly biotech, but also medtech and digital health. The falling valuations, number of operations and stock market activity in European and American markets makes it difficult to predict what will happen in the second half of the year.

Nevertheless, most of the specialized investors in the BioRegion are optimistic.

“Part of what is happening is a correction of the valuations in certain markets, which were particularly inflated in the United States,” said Asabys managing partner and co-founder Clara Campàs. 

“That makes investment funds more cautious, but there is still capital to invest in good projects, and we expect the flow of private capital to the healthcare sector to keep growing.”

Joel Jean-Mairet, founding partner of Ysios Capital, said: “In terms of capitalization, there is a lot of venture capital money and startup dynamics won’t change. In fact, it’s an opportunity for many because late-stage investors are investing in more early-stage projects. What could change from now are the conditions: we’re moving into a much more selective period because we can’t see how long this downturn will last.”

Montserrat Vendrell, partner at Alta Partners, said: “The general feeling is one of waiting for a correction in valuations and for M&A to start taking off in the second half of the year. Pharmaceutical corporations like Pfizer, Astrazenca and others involved in COVID-19 vaccines have to pay out capital.” 

Lluís Pareras, founding partner of Invivo Capital, said: “the global crisis is extraordinary, and funds are holding back capital to bolster their portfolio with more follows-ons, so they’re investing in fewer new companies. Good companies will always be able to secure rounds of funding, but it will take them longer.”

Full year report

The data are from an initial sectoral analysis Biocat conducted in July 2022, which will be used – with complete data as of December 2022 – to compile the next edition of the BioRegion Report, to be presented on February 13, 2023 in Barcelona.

Biocat is the organization that maximizes the economic and social impact of the life sciences and healthcare innovation ecosystem in Catalonia. It was created in 2006 by the Government of Catalonia and Barcelona City Council and its governing bodies include representatives from all areas and levels of the BioRegion of Catalonia: Administration, business (biotechnology, pharmaceutical, medical technology, digital health and services), universities, hospitals, research centers and institutes, science parks and sector support organizations.

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