Over 60 executives from CataloniaBio & HealthTech debate the future of solutions for healthcare

by Gemma Escarré,

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More than 60 executives from companies and stakeholders that are members of CataloniaBio & HealthTech participated in the first UnConference, held on 29 November at the Sant Pere de Clarà Farmhouse in Argentona (Barcelona), to debate the future of therapeutic solutions for healthcare in Catalonia and the world. The sector currently makes up 7.2% of the Catalan GDP and companies are raising more than €100 million in investment each year.

The welcome session was hosted by Jaume Amat, president of CataloniaBio & HealthTech and CEO of Specipig, and Albert Barberà, director general for Research and Innovation in Health for the Government of Catalonia.

Many significant voices in the research, business and social arenas participated in the event, including Julio Lorca (DKV Salud), NúriaTerribas (Víctor Grífols i Lucas Foundation), Manel Esteller (Bellvitge Biomedical Research Institute), David Elvira (Sanofi-Genzyme-MSOI), Josep Gatell (Swan Medical, Cardiolink and Ilerimplant Group) and Angie Rosales (Pallapupas). They discussed key issues like the role of business and entrepreneurship in the healthcare system, digital health, personalised medicine and bioethics.

The sessions were moderated by Joan Martí (ACCIÓ), Jordi Naval (Biocat) and journalists Ramon Aymerich (La Vanguardia), Àlex Font (Ara), Agustí Sala (El Periódico) and Gabriel Trindade (Expansión).

Key reflections from the debates and dialogues

Debate on digital health

  • ICT will help us go "from cure to prevention", but culturally the administration, companies and society are not 100% ready for this.
  • ICT gives companies the opportunity to be in contact with patients. This is key for improving and contributing new ideas to address real needs.
  • It will be society that pushes us towards this change, as the government is often more conservative in this regard.

Debate on ethics

  • The advance of science brings up important ethical debates concerning new therapies and technology, although it is growing faster than debate forums can.
  • Patients should be more involved in decision-making regarding their own therapy, in a responsible, informed manner.
  • In some cases, bioethics should be more independent of party politics and economic interests.

Debate on personalised medicine

  • For some time now, more work has been going into precision medicine than personalised medicine.
  • Science has moved ahead enough to personalise treatments, which will lead to changes in healthcare policies (scientific evidence, regulatory issues, purchasing medicines, analysing the value of new medicines, etc.) as this is expected to increase the costs of the healthcare system, which may seem impossible to handle.
  • Personalised medicine isn't a myth; we are already there. The challenge now is to implement it. We must be brave for Catalonia to be a leader in this area.

Debate on business

  • It is important to foster and participate in public-private dialogue to lay out the wide-reaching healthcare policies we have mentioned previously.
  • Improving communication: society must be made aware, in a positive way, of what the sector does and what the public, private and public-private components mean, as this is the only way to move forward in planning and executing the country's healthcare system.
  • In Catalonia, our healthcare research and business model is of a significant size. We must believe it as a country and use all of the tools available to make the most of it.

Debate on entrepreneurship

  • We need fewer regulations that are more robust.
  • In the technology and medical device arena, applicants tend to go for FDA approval as the regulatory path is more straightforward than in the European Union.
  • The goal of entrepreneurs in this sector is to license or sell on the global market, which is 45 times bigger than the Spanish market. To do so, they need strategic regulatory, technology and commercialisation partners.

Debate "A smile for healthcare!"

  • More and more, companies need to remember that they are addressing patients. Personalising services and products, as well as including humour as much as possible, is beneficial to health.
  • Smiling is living, and incorporating it into the hospital setting brings about improvements for patients, families and professionals.

CataloniaBio & HealthTech will host an UnConference each year, keeping the essence of the model that the HealthTech Cluster successfully implemented before the two organisations merged in 2017.


In the media


What is UnConference?

UnConference is a day of debates and dialogues aimed at helping raise awareness, perspective and vision of where therapeutic solutions for health should be heading in Catalonia and the world. With participation from significant voices in science, business and society, the event will feature expertise and points of view that encourage collective reflection with CataloniaBio & HealthTech members in order to understand the needs and opportunities of the sector, as well as the best way to tackle them from companies.

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