A draw for talent

After doing a postdoc at Harvard, I spoke with scientists working in Barcelona and realized that it was a vibrant, cosmopolitan city: a place to do great science. And I moved here.

Elvan Boke, Group Leader at the Centre for Genomic Regulation (CRG)

Catalonia attracts professionals from around the world to a research, development and innovation system recognized as a worldwide benchmark of excellence in research in areas such as biomedicine, photonics, energy, economy and nanotechnology.

Since 2001, ICREA (the Catalan Institution for Research and Advanced Studies) has been hiring top-notch scientists and scholars to compete with other research systems on similar footing, which has largely contributed to boosting the excellence and competitiveness of Catalonia’s research system.

254
ICREA researchers from 26 different countries (29% in life sciences)
€90M
in competitive funds attracted by ICREA researchers in 2017 (40% in life sciences)
24
spin-offs from ICREA (20 in life sciences) which have attracted +€90M

To be honest, I wasn’t aware of the structures and ambitions of the Catalan research system, but I was impressed by the vibrant science ecosystem in Barcelona, and I was given a very competitive offer that gave me the support I needed to create my own research group.

Lorenzo Albertazzi, Junior Group Leader at the Institute for Bioengineering of Catalonia (IBEC)

Catalonia is open to international talent. The percentage of international researchers is higher in the senior positions

Source: Secretariat for Universities and Research 2017

A land of entrepreneurs

Catalonia is a hotbed of entrepreneurs thanks to the role played by public institutions that encourage creativity, innovation and talent. This is an example that we hope impacts the world and can be followed by many other regions and territories.

Mobile World Capital

8%
Entrepreneurial activity in catalonia. european average = 7.8%Source: Global Entrepreneur Monitor Report, 2017
1
New company per weekSince 2010
144
New companies in 2015-2017
Yearly evolution of BioRegion of Catalonia companies (2005-2017)

Source: Biocat

Companies in the BioRegion generate
+€17,800 M
Turnover (2016)
2.4%
Average annual growth between 2000 and 2016
+53,700
Jobs
Evolution in number of employees in BioRegion companies (2010-2016)

Source: Biocat and SABI

Catalonia relies on a broad network of CMOs, CROs, hospitals for trials, consultants, regulatory advisors, market-access specialists, technology, etc. Any company can execute operations at the top level just by using local providers and professionals
Biocat Report 2017 / Informe Biocat – BioRegion of Catalonia network

The availability of investable teams is actually one of the main assets of a thriving ecosystem. Although the current proportion of first-timers is higher and seasoned teams are still scarce, the capabilities are evolving rapidly because there is a large base of professionals able to adapt to the rules of start-up, and also because it is very easy to import talent from abroad to be settled in Barcelona.

I am moving from Silicon Valley to Barcelona in 2019. Barcelona is at an exceptionally exciting time, while Silicon Valley suffers from an extremely high cost of talent acquisition, difficulty retaining talent and valuations that all too often outstrip promise.

Marta Gaia Zanchi, Director of Digital Health at Stanford Byers Center of Biodesign