2020 AseBio Report shows huge jump in Spanish biotechnology in pandemic year

Biotech companies launched 70% more products and services to market and Spain moved to eighth in the world in scientific production in biotechnology

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This Wednesday, the Spanish Bioindustry Association (AseBio) presented its 2020 AseBio Report, which compiles data on the Spanish biotechnology sector for this landmark year. The event took place at the Spanish Institute for Foreign Trade (ICEX) with Secretary of State for Trade in the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism and President of ICEX Xiana Méndez and Minister of Science and Innovation Pedro Duque, with support from Merck. 

AseBio Chairwoman Ana Polanco highlighted the importance and resilience of biotechnology during this crisis. “Science and innovation are allowing us to get back to our normal lives after the huge impact of the pandemic.” In fact, figures show the biotechnology industry responded and grew on all levels in 2020. 

Scientific production is up, as is its contribution to GDP and employment 

First of all, Spain is now ranked eighth in the world in number of papers in biotechnology. Plus, following the same upward trend, companies have launched 70% more products and services to market, thanks to those associated with Covid-19. In this same line, the number of companies working in this innovative industry is expanding considerably, to 3,585 in total and 790 with biotechnology as their main activity, according to the latest available data. 

The joint activity of these companies generated over €10.1 billion in income, which is 0.8% of the Spanish GDP, and they saw nearly €12 billion in turnover, or 1% of the GDP. Plus, they created 117,700 jobs, 0.6% of total employment nationwide. 

Alejandra Davidovics, Biotech Site director at Merck in Tres Cantos, which is a clear example of the research and manufacturing that can be done in Spain, said of these figures: “The industrial network in biotechnology gives us a more resilient healthcare system that is better prepared for future challenges, as well as generating wealth and high-productivity employment.

Collaboration and investment, key for continued growth

This has been possible thanks to the biotechnology sector’s hard work and the unprecedented collaboration among all the stakeholders in the system,” Polanco also noted. This can be seen in some of the most significant figures in the report. Biotechnology has sought to create new products, from diagnostic tests to treatments and vaccines, to stop the spread of Covid-19, working more closely with other stakeholders in the system. Biotech firms forged 59% more alliances than the previous year and 40% of them were with organizations from the public sector.

In this same line, private investment in Spanish biotech firms rose nearly 50% in 2020. This year saw over €150 million in private capital invested, as we announced a few weeks ago. Plus, the volume of operations with international participants rose again this year, to nearly €100 million

Biotechnology talent and R&D

The biotechnology industry is knowledge-intensive, which means it has a higher percentage of researchers to total employees than any other sector. Plus, at biotech firms nearly 60% of R&D workers are women, which is much higher than the average for other sectors. 

The 2020 report shows the sector’s commitment to R&D. The latest data from the National Statistics Institute (INE) hit a record €940 million in R&D investment, making up 6% of all Spanish R&D investment. Of this total, over €671 million was from biotech firms, which invested twice as much in R&D as they did ten years ago.

“In the government we want to keep pace with growth in the biotechnology sector. It gives us hope despite the difficult circumstances,” concluded Minister of Science and Innovation Pedro Duque at the end of the event. 

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Agathe Cortes



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Who we are 

AseBio brings together more than 290 entities and represents the Spanish biotechnology sector as a whole. Its mission is to lead the transformation of the country, positioning science, innovation and especially biotechnology as an engine of economic growth and social welfare. Its members include companies, associations, foundations, universities, technology and research centres that carry out their activities directly or indirectly related to biotechnology in Spain.