Today the Biomedical Cluster promoter group met at the Palauet de Can Buxeres to monitor the status and news of the project. The mayor of L’Hospitalet, Núria Marín; the mayor of Esplugues de Llobregat, Pilar Díaz; the director of the Bellvitge Biomedical Research Institute, Dr. Gabriel Capellá; the knowledge and research director of the ICO, Dr. Anna Clopés; the manager of the Southern Metropolitan Territorial Management of the ICS, Dr. Montserrat Figuerola; the Vice-Dean for Research of the University of Barcelona, Jordi García, and the Director of Innovation and Knowledge of the Sant Joan de Deu Hospital, Jaume Perez. In the meeting, there was also the Secretary General for Industry and SMEs of the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Tourism, Raül Blanco.
The Biomedical Cluster wants to contribute to promoting and consolidating a health ecosystem in Catalonia that favors a new economy based on innovation and knowledge in the metropolitan territory, as well as the location of new companies based on the urban transformation of the area of Bellvitge.
The municipalities of L’Hospitalet and Esplugues de Llobregat concentrate leading institutions in the field of research, health and knowledge such as the Bellvitge University Hospital (HUB), the Catalan Institute of Oncology (ICO), the University of Barcelona-Bellvitge Campus (UB), the Bellvitge Biomedical Research Institute (IDIBELL), as well as the Sant Joan de Deu Hospital, which makes this area one of the largest health campuses in Catalonia.
Currently, the promoter group is working on the drafting of a project based on the conclusions collected in the Cluster Master Plan, where the differentiating knowledge areas with high competitiveness capacity are identified, capable of contributing to improving the ecosystem of innovation in health in Catalonia and give a new economic boost to the sector.
A master plan that confirms that the information systems in the Bellvitge environment contain complete clinical information, with a quality and level of data integration that is ahead of other environments. In addition, it highlights that there is a strong tradition of epidemiological research around IDIBELL and innovation in digital health around the Sant Joan de Deu Hospital. The possibilities of managing and analyzing these data are an important asset both in terms of health management and for clinical practice and research. Personalized medicine, which is adapted to the needs of each patient, wants to be one of its differentiating areas.
To develop the biocluster, the project proposes the creation of new infrastructures and new services based on the creation of the Smart Health Community, which will make it possible to take advantage of all available technological resources and use them to contribute to improving the health of citizens.
A community that will grow from six pillars: digital health and personalized medicine; artificial intelligence and big data; innovative and advanced therapies; empowerment and social impact; open innovation community; and design thinking and training and teaching.
The cluster project will be presented to the Next Generation UE funds and already has the support of the Barcelona Provincial Council, which has included it in Next Diba.
The mayor, Núria Marín, stated that at a time when the world is fighting against the global pandemic, it has become obvious that investing in health and research is essential: “European Next Generation funds offer us the opportunity to face new challenges to resolve the deficits detected, the provision of new infrastructures, and new services that allow the development of all the research and knowledge potential generated in this area. They are a great opportunity for the cluster, but without them the project will continue. This is one of its great strengths.” And she added that “the public and private alliance is absolutely necessary. Therefore, we are working on a strategy to approach companies linked to biomedicine and health sciences, which strengthens and completes the project.”
For the mayor, Pilar Díaz, “in Esplugues we have been working for a long time on innovative projects and attracting talent, especially in the field of digital transformation and biomedicine. The alliance with the university, the definitive start of the biomedical hub or the new possibilities that Next Generation European funds will bring are an opportunity to accelerate all these projects.”
Gabriel Capellá, director of IDIBELL, said that “the biomedical cluster is an opportunity to strengthen the health ecosystem in the south of Barcelona and s firm commitment on a knowledge society whose pillars are first-class research and innovation that, working side by side with health centers, help improve people’s health. Strengthening the links between the different agents of the cluster will speed up the transfer between research and clinical practice and accelerate the development of personalized medicine.”
For Dr. Anna Clopés, ICO’s Director of Knowledge and Research, “the Catalan Institute of Oncology gives all the support and is working within the Biomedical Cluster project. Cancer as a health problem is the other pandemic, which has been, is and will be, and it is one of the social health problems of our country. For this reason, it is essential to promote the generation of knowledge and innovation to prevent and treat cancer. For this reason, the Catalan Institute of Oncology as a member of the cluster wants to promote Health ecosystem as an environment for promoting talent and innovation.”
Montserrat Figuerola, manager of the Southern Metropolitan Territorial Management of the ICS, considers that “the Bellvitge University Hospital, a highly complex center of the public health system, makes a firm and collaborative commitment to the new biomedical development pole of L’Hospitalet. The preparation and experience of its professionals will be key to helping equip the new cluster with the high levels of knowledge it will need to excel. And, at the same time, the companies and institutions that join will be able to provide the public health system with new technological tools and new ideas and resources, based on real care needs, to continue innovating to provide the best possible service to all citizens.”
For Jaume Pérez Payarols, Director of Innovation and Knowledge of Sant Joan de Deu Hospital, “the Biomedical Cluster fits very well into the innovation strategy of our Hospital, in order to promote the health and well-being of the population. It is an initiative that will generate knowledge, quality jobs and, in addition, it will attract Biotech companies”.
According to Jordi Garcia, Vice-Rector for Research at the University of Barcelona, “the Biomedical Cluster includes the three branches in which the UB is a leader in the biomedical field, from training through the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, to bottom-up research and transfer, with new spin-offs and technological infrastructures of the University. This cluster is part of a large biomedical metropolis in which the UB is strategic, and this project is key to rounding it off”.
Among the issues to be addressed in the coming weeks by the partners is the validation of the map of infrastructure and service needs, as well as the definition of the legal structure and with it the governance model that will allow the management, dynamization and projection of the biomedical cluster.