How do biosciences serve us?
The support for high level international scientific discussion— through the activities of B·Debate - International Center for Scientific Debate and its active dissemination; the development of tools for knowledge regarding the Catalan bioscience sector — such as the Biocat Directory and specialised publications —; and the various media themselves, created by Biocat (websites, electronic newsletters, social networking ...) are outlined as three basic elements to facilitate connection with society and involve it in the objective of promoting life sciences as a strategic sector in Catalonia and in the world.
The 2012 programme, B·Debate, consisted of 12 activities, which ran from March until January 2013, and which had a huge science, media and public impact. To reinforce the informative dimension of the project, in February 2012 the project’s own website was launched (www.bdebate.org).
With regard to the knowledge tools of the Catalan biocluster, in addition to the work in publications [see below], in 2012, various improvements were made to the Biocat Directory, as a result of the agreement signed with the company Venture Valuation (owner of the internationally recognised BiotechGate database). This enabled in January 2013, the launch of a new, more efficient search engine with the incorporation of the files from the Directory of information on financial matters and products of the various registered institutions, this information being previously unavailable. The Biocat Directory contains more than 1,200 files on organisations and companies that make up the Catalan biocluster. The tool uses an internationally recognised classification that enables one to make comparisons with other clusters. The Directory also includes a specific search engine for research groups and a catalogue of scientific and technological platforms (the first of its kind to be published in Catalonia).
A growing audience
In 2012, the Biocat's web has established itself as a point of interaction for stakeholders of the BioRegió. To achieve this, a study was carried out on perceptions and needs of users (surveys and focus groups with employers, entrepreneurs, scientists, technology transfer managers and students) with the aim of planning Internet presence and responding to the demands of Internet users.
In addition, we have posted more content related to technology transfer through reports on success stories of Catalan companies and entrepreneurs.
With constant updating (281 news items, 12 interviews, 7 opinion articles, 6 reports, 445 entries in the calendar of events, 131 job offers and the creation of specific pages for projects and major events, among others) the Catalonia biosciences website increased its number of visitors by 11% compared with 2011, reaching a total 206.924, while the number of unique visitors rose by 15% to 110.544. The average number of monthly visits to the website was over 17,000.
The E-News monthly newsletter, in three languages (Catalan, Spanish and English), has been sent out monthly to more than 9,500 national and international contacts. Parallel to the increase in Biocat’s CRM database, to which the newsletter is sent, in 2012 257 new subscribers, ranging from professionals to citizens interested in BioScience were gained via the form on the web.
Biocat has also committed itself to the use of social networking as a vehicle for dissemination and interaction with its stakeholders; in particular the organisation has strengthened its Twitter channel, in Catalan, Spanish and English,— gaining a total of 3,752 followers in 2012, 118% more than in 2011 — and its LinkedIn, page which closed the year with 850 followers.
The promotion of the website has not, however, diminished the presence of Biocat activities in the media. We have worked actively to qualitatively and quantitively improve media coverage of Biocat’s activities of. Thus 2012 resulted in the publication of 119 articles in the written press, 162 in digital press, 22 appearances on television and 12 on the radio.
Ernst&Young presents in Boston Report 2011 on the Bioregion of Catalonia
The international benchmark meeting for the biotechnology sector, the BIO International Convention in Boston (United States), was the setting chosen for the presentation of the report Catalonia Life Sciences Report 2011. The document, published in collaboration with the consulting firm Ernst&Young with details from the Biocat Report 2011, analyses the situation of the public and private biotechnology sector, biomedicine and medical technologies and represents an indispensable tool for increasing international knowledge of the BioRegion.
The report ratifies Catalonia as the largest biocluster in Spain, and one of the most important in the South of Europe with more than 1,100 companies, bodies and R&D centres registered.
Specifically, there are 520 companies, 54 research institutes/ research centres, 20 science parks, 15 hospitals with bioscience research programmes and 10 universities that offer study courses in life sciences, which altogether employ some 30,000 people. The BioRegion also includes 440 research groups, many of them focusing on the areas of oncology, neurodegenerative diseases, key issues of the Catalan biotech sector.*
Companies are responsible for 85% of the 19,000 patents that the BioRegion has produced in the last 10 years. Among the companies are large pharmaceutical companies such as Esteve and Almirall and Grifols, specialising in plasma derivatives.
In addition to publishing the report, Catalonia Life Sciences Report 2011, in 2012 we also prepared the focus and outline of the Biocat Report 2013 content and started on the collection of data.
* Data for 2013. Source: Biocat Directory