ICEX-Invest in Spain

Spanish biotechnology provides attractive business opportunities

The Spanish biotechnology sector has enjoyed major innovative, scientific and business activity in recent years, leading to its consolidation. A strong scientific base, highly qualified human capital, state-of-the-art infrastructures and technologies, an integrated health system and governmental support have turned the Spanish biotechnology and pharmaceutical sector into one of the most dynamic and competitive industries internationally.

In addition to its traditional competitive advantages related to logistics, geostrategic situation, cultural and educational levels and quality of life, Spain has solid scientific and technological capacities that have enabled a competitive bioindustry with access to European Union, Mediterranean area, Middle East and Africa.

Solid Basic Science
Spain is 10th world scientific country producing more than 3.2% of the global scientific production in Biosciences, and 5th by scientific production in the European Union due to a long and strong tradition in biochemistry and molecular biology scientific output. This knowledge provides a valuable source of business opportunities for foreign companies and investors.

Excellent infrastructure for innovation
There is an exponential growth of science and technology parks, nearly 80, research centres and institutes of technology. These innovation centres contain more than 6.280 companies of which 4.3% are related to biotech activities and 6.4% to healthcare. Spain’s infrastructure also incorporates the latest technology for life science projects, international renowned research centres as The National Oncology Research Centre (CNIO), The Severo Ochoa Molecular Biology Centre (CBM) or the National Cardiovascular Research Centre (CNIC).  In addition, more than 80 universities, both public and private, and a number of biobanks associated to the extensive hospital network are facilitating the advance of translational medicine throughout the country.
The Spanish National Research Council is the most important public research organisation in Spain. The autonomous regions house 126 centres and 145 associated units, which conduct research in all scientific areas at international level.

Consolidation of Spanish biotech sector
Biotech companies are growing faster here than in other countries and currently there are more than 3,000 companies involved in biotech activities and 625 strictly biotech. These companies are employing around 203,000 employees and 9,000 are dedicated to R+D activities, producing a turnover of over 80,000M € and investing 523M € in R+D. There is also a strong spin-out culture and every year public institutions create between 10 and 12 new companies.
This growth is reflected in a solid macroeconomic impact, directly and indirectly, biotech sector accounted for 7.80% of Spain’s GDP.

An integrated health system
Spain has an extensive network of 800 hospitals that are the backbone of an extremely dynamic, collaborative and innovative healthcare system, which enables the execution of research projects in conjunction with other centers of scientific excellence. This infrastructure provides an excellent scenario for the implementation of highly productive translational medicine and research, which enables optimum results in the prognosis, prevention, diagnosis and design of new medicines.
There are currently about 3,000 clinical trials underway at Spanish hospitals. This means Spain is 5th in clinical testing in the European Union.

Highly qualified workforce
There is a surplus of talent for competitive and innovative projects and a favorable cost-benefit ratio of human capital. The cost per hour is less than average for EU25, salaries are lower but the attraction of working on scientific or biotech projects is high. Currently, the staff employed in R & D is 9,3 per thousand of the total employed population.
More than 40% of young people have university studies and in some areas of Spain the percentage of workers with post-graduate studies is higher than the European average.

Government support and private finance
The central and regional governments are providing support for R&D offering a set of measures, loans and grants during the start-up and growth phases of life science companies. It should be pointed out its fiscal system, the 2nd most favorable fiscal incentives for R&D among OECD countries, and the Technology Fund of the European Regional Development Fund focused in helping to attract foreign investment with a high R&D component.
Among others, The Centre for Industrial Technological Development (CDTI) has got a wide range of grants and loans at competitive low interest rate for technological projects and The Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness (MINECO) also offers support by its National Plan for Scientific and Technical Research and Innovation 2013-2016 with grants and loans for technological projects to cover materials, personnel, investments and collaborations.
About the private finance, there are several venture capital funds specialized in biotech activities. In fact, biotechnology sector is the 2nd in number of venture capital transactions with 13.8% of the total deals and the 2nd in investment volume with 14.5% of the total investments.
All these strong points shows that Spain has a lot of important competitive advantages in order to became a worldwide competitive pole in biotechnology. In fact, leading biotechnology and pharmaceutical multinationals are already located in Spain many of which have successfully chosen our country for the establishment of Research Excellence Centres, Production or Distribution Centres.

Success Stories

  • Merck has concentrated its global growth-hormone production in Spain and has recently announced a 14M € investment to increase by 50% the production capacity of its facility in Madrid.
  • Novartis announced in 2013 a 60M€ investment to expands its facilities in Cataluña for the manufacturing of the entire production line of inhalers. The expansion will create 70 jobs.
  • Lilly has in Madrid its research centre for medicinal chemistry, one of the biggest in the world. In 2015 it was announced that this plant will take over production from Lilly’s central in USA, increasing its productivity in 30%.
  • Bayer has concentrated its global aspirin production in Asturias investing 6M €.
  • Celgene opened its first research centre outside the United States in Seville. The Celgene Institute of Translational Research Europe (CITRE) plans to focus on advanced therapies and regenerative medicine investing 60M €.
  • GSK has in Madrid its research centre for tropical diseases, Molecular Discovery Research and Drug Discovery activities. In 2014, GSK announced that they plan to invest 20M € in the next 4 years in their production center in Castilla y Leon.
  • Pfizer has invested 12M € in its European Biometric Centre, which has support functions for the rest of Europe and USA.
  • TEVA manufactures in Spain all the omeprazol that export to Europe. From 2008 to 2014 it has invested 33M € in its factory in Zaragoza.

INVEST IN SPAIN is the Directorate in charge of attracting foreign direct investment in ICEX-Spain Trade & Investment, government enterprise under the Secretary of State for Trade (Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness).
At INVEST IN SPAIN we provide companies with professional, confidential and free services throughout the process of investing in Spain: from investment planning and evaluation, to set up and post-investment.

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