Biotechnology from around the world comes together in BIOSPAIN 2021 to promote collaboration in a year affected by the Covid-19 crisis

  • The President of Navarra, María Chivite, has described this sector as strategic for economic recovery and with great potential for job creation.
  • This international benchmark event, organised by AseBio, in coordination with the Government of Navarra, has more than 900 attendees from 30 countries and more than 2,000 one-to-one meetings have already been held.
foto inaugural
Pamplona, España

The most long-awaited event in Spanish biotechnology began today with a speech from the President of Navarra, María Chivite, who stated that this sector is “strategic for boosting economic recovery and has great potential for job creation”.

Biospain 2021 will take place from the 27th of september – 1st of october in person on the 29th and 30th September and virtually every day, in the Congress Palace and Navarra-Baluarte Auditorium in Pamplona-Iruña. More than 900 professionals from the sector, from more than 550 companies coming from 30 countries in America, Africa, Asia and Europe shall attend this edition, which is very different because of the ongoing Covid-19 situation, but important due to the leading role that Spanish biotechnology has played during the pandemic. More than 2000 one to one meeting have been held to boost innovation and collaboration, crucial for the sector to grow, and to develop new business opportunities.

During her speech, President Chivite spoke of Navarra’s drive for “health in general and biotechnology in particular” over the last few years, "supported by the entrepreneurial base and the talent from the Foral Community". In this regard, she pointed out that the Navarra government has developed a Personalised Medicine Integral Strategy, "to promote preventative medicine, genomics, advanced diagnoses and personalised treatment". More than 30 Navarra companies are part of this industry, and there are 40 companies in other areas of Health, and 5 research centres employing 2400 professionals, 2 universities and 2 leading hospitals.

The Secretary of State for Commerce, Xiana Méndez, who was also present at the inauguration, showed her support for Spanish biotechnology companies and pointed out our industry’s strengths. “This is an extremely innovative, enterprising and transforming sector, with significant public-private collaboration where women have a very relevant part to play, female students currently representing 60% of those studying Biotechnology. We support the industrialisation and international expansion of biotechnology”, she pointed out.

She also drew attention to one of the main challenges in the biotechnology industry, where internationalisation and funding shall be key levers to accelerate its dynamism. “The science and health sectors shall be a top priority for the next two years in our 2021-2022 Spanish Economy Internationalisation Action Plan”, she stated. According to the Secretary of State for Commerce, directly attracting foreign investment shall be promoted via ICEX-Invest in Spain and participation in top international trade fairs.

During the inauguration, emphasis was placed on the potential of the ‘biotech’ sector in Spain, pointing out that our country is the eighth strongest in the world for producing scientific knowledge, and the fifth for developing and using advance therapies. But above all, it was stressed that its strategic character also resides in its commitment to science and innovation, great levers of economic growth. “More than ever, Biotechnology has crossed borders, acting swiftly and efficiently and we cannot forget that Navarra has a health sector which is host to one of the most attractive and internationally recognised Spanish biotechnology companies”, stated Ana Polanco, President of AseBio. 

Why is BIOSPAIN so important in this crisis year?

Following the inauguration, a press conference was held. Participants included Mikel Irujo, Counsellor for Economic and Business development of the Navarra Local Government, Ion Arocena, CEO of AseBio, and Pilar Irigoien, Managing Director of Sodena. They all emphasised the need and importance of creating solid, long-lasting public and private collaborations. 

In this regard, Irujo stressed that innovation is a key factor needed to make the European Union (EU) offer its citizens prosperity and the chance to overcome challenges in the future. “Economic progress, social wellbeing, and quality of life in Europe depends on the ability to boost productivity and growth, which in turn depends greatly on the ability to be innovative”, he affirmed. 

After more than a year living with a pandemic, AseBio would like to place biotechnology at the heart of Spain’s recovery, to boost our economy’s green transition and to strengthen our National Health System. This is one objective which was mentioned by Arocena during the press conference, where he took the opportunity to remind the public that strengthening the role of the ‘biotech’ industry, and having more R&D support and help for Spanish ‘biotech’ companies, we can face future challenges. “The sector is currently subjected to regulatory barriers, affecting the complete development of their I+D as well as barriers for collaboration in the science and innovation system”, he added. 


In fact, in the words of Arocena, “BIOSPAIN 2021 will significantly help to position this sector as a reference at European level, not only in terms of research but also in the promotion of technology transfer, entrepreneurship and the development of new projects”

In addition, Irigoien explained why Navarra had once again been chosen to host BIOSPAIN, eleven years later, emphasising the fact that Navarra is a reference for health, a strategic sector for the region. “This meeting shall help us to expand our knowledge of this topic and to form relationships with top level national and international stakeholders”, stated the Managing Director of Sodena. 

Specifically, Irigoien presented data to support her message, such as the fact that Navarra’s health sector employs more than 2400 people as part of pioneering research with a high index of specialisation in pharmaceutical and biotechnology products. 17,1% of patents are concentrated in Navarra, with 13,1% of patents in Spain and 7,5% in the EU and there is an extensive public and private healthcare network.

This was backed up by Irujo, who concluded by saying that “Navarra has a very favourable ecosystem, under progressive consolidation which is vital to boost bio-entrepreneurship, aspiring to be a reference in Europe”. 

These sessions of international reference are organised by the Association of Spanish Bio-companies (AseBio), in coordination Navarra Local Government and collaboration with Merck, ICEX Spain Exportation and Investments, the Galician Innovation Agency, GAIN and CINFA.


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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.