The past 8th and 9th of May an association of biotech companies from Galicia (Spain) organized a trade mission with the support of the CED (Society of Spanish researchers in Denmark) and ACES (Spanish researchers in Sweden) to the region known as Medicon Valley. This region comprising the Copenhagen greater area and the region of Skåne (south Sweden) was its goal. Beginning with a visit at the Medicon Village of Lund (Sweden) organized by the representative of ACES, Eva Ortega-Paino, in collaboration with Invest in Skåne, a visit to the COBIS, as well as the attendance to the Danish IP Fair in Copenhagen organized both of them by the chariman of the CED, Dario Vazquez-Albacete.
Both CED and ACES act as a contact point not only for academic purposes but also as a gateway for private companies in Spain that wish to expand their activities to the Nordic countries. One of the biggest difficulties for companies aiming to expand to these countries is to figure out ways to establish contacts with big companies in the area and with universities as well as the different funding sources in Scandinavia. This is probably due to multiple factors such as their own idiosyncrasy, different values, language, timing and ways to work with others. For this reasons our societies of researchers have decided to support companies in this sort of initiatives because in the long term will help them to increase their business turnover. By doing that, we think it will allow creating more job positions and will revert in a more diversified economy for our country of origin.
Why is this region of so much interest for biotech companies?
As the CEO of Medicon Valley Alliance, Peter Hartman, mentioned on repeated occasions, the growth of the biotech sector in this region is has been spectacular over the past twenty years. It has been thanks to a combination of factors, but on top of all to a substantial capital contribution from the private sector (mainly through private foundations and large companies) to the research and development ecosystem. Moreover, there are a high concentration of excellent research facilities, universities and technology platforms, which are the innovation engines of the private sector. If we add up the great international experience in exporting to the largest customer of the world, USA, and easiness to establish networks, it is not difficult to understand why this region has become the landmark of the European biotechnology. Large companies such as Novo Nordisk, Carlsberg, Novozymes, Lundbeck or LEO Pharma have to incorporate new technologies to sustain their positive growth, and Spain can offer them.
What is the role of researcher association in this trade mission?
The CED and ACES provided essentially structural/logistic support to the Bioga mission. On one hand, introducing Bioga to some of the main actors of the biotechnology ecosystem that operate in the region, as well as providing a place where to meet them. We have acted as consultants involving them in the most important aspects to collaborate with companies and universities in the region after analyzing and identifying their expertise areas. Together with our previous experience, we do believe that we have an international vision of how to organize and promote activities with scientific content. This could be of great value not only for companies in Scandinavia but also in other countries where making you product or invention to outstand it is a critical aspect to be heard by the potential partners.
Although our associations have only a very small infrastructure and limited resources, our purpose is to carry on providing help with regards to internationalization both to companies and institutions. Conversely, we have as main goal being heard and be acknowledged based on the knowledge and the importance of science in our society. For this reason we will dedicate any benefit generated from these activities to continue communicating the excellence of our scientists within our working fields.
Yet a lot to be done
As we have remarked previously, the lack of resources in our associations is a reality. However, we believe that this kind of actions will have positive outcomes for the sector in the long run. We make a call to encourage both the public and private to support to our associations. Not using them as a political instrument or a national flag, but as a tool to tell the world that our country has a lot to offer. The economic support should not be exclusively dedicated to events or particular action but also to maintain the structure of the associations since they have already proved their usefulness. Countries like Denmark, Sweden or France have bet to dedicate resources to boost science abroad through trade offices or embassies. Nevertheless, the associations of Spanish researchers abroad are already established, they are independent, transparent and with experience in many fields as they already demonstrated their management capabilities. Let’s take advantage of these skills to boost international collaboration.
What can Bioga’s associates offer to the Medicon Valley?
Companies took part in a speed dating with us in order to explain what was their expertise and their goals in this trade mission:
- QU Biotech: Offers an integrated software for nuclear medicine signal processing. In particular the software allows fine automated quantification of PET/NMR images in a clinical environment, helping physicians to make their decisions. QU Biotech came to Denmark with the aim of finding potential customers interested in this technology such as hospitals or clinical research facilities.
- HG Beyong: Has developed a hydrogel biomaterial capable of acting as a drug delivery device in a cost-effective way. Its unique formulation allows loading of a myriad of small molecules or drugs into the hydrogel. The ideal application is to use it for manufacturing contact lenses that deliver the aforementioned molecules. HG Beyond is seeking partners in the ophthalmic sector in order to bring its invention to the clinic as a medical device.
- Galchimia: Is a Company with an outstanding expertise in organic chemistry and custom organic synthesis. The company offers a high quality and personalized service to third parties. Galchimia visited Denmark to expand its horizons and find customers in the Medicon Valley, a region with a long tradition in drug development.
- MD-USE: This innovative Company offers an integrated platform for simulation and visualization using and augmented reality and virtual reality. The platform can be used for both small molecules and large molecules such as proteins, although MD-USE has a great expertise in complex system simulation of cyclodextrins. The Galician company is eager to partner and find customers who wish to use this sort of platforms for research or educational purposes.
- Nanogap: Owning a patented technology for Atomic Quantum Clusters (AQC) this company offers a diverse catalog of applications using different nanomaterials with magnetic, luminescent, conductive or antimicrobial properties. AQC are ideal for surface functionalization and the company would like to find partners in Denmark and Sweden that can use their technology for example, for conjugation of biomolecules with luminescent AQCs for diagnostic purposes.
- Oncostellae: It is a Company with expertise in drug development within oncology, inflammation and autoimmune diseases up to phase II. The company is looking for partners for some of its drugs in phase I or II and for developing new ones.
CED and ACES is what their members want them to be
We reached consensus when we decided to organize this trade mission, both at the board level and to the members we surveyed. Even so, we would like to give the opportunity to our membership to get actively involved in these initiatives. Either helping us contact companies and institutions or playing an active role in the organization of the activity. We want to know your opinion and have you on board to build our future. If you have an initiative and ambition to work independently for a common goal, do not hesitate in contacting us.
Dario Vázquez-Albacete, Chariman at CED
Eva Ortega-Paino, Representative of ACED in Lund