The Biosalud business sector in the Basque Country invested more than 150 million euros in R&D&I areas and programmes in 2022

Álava, Bizkaia, Gipuzkoa, News

Last year, the turnover of the Basque Biosalud sector soared by more than 25%, with aggregate sales of 2,400 million euros.

Employment in the sector in the Basque Country continues to increase and now exceeds 10,000 professionals.

During the BHC Eguna of the Basque Health Cluster, the ‘José Miguel Azkoitia’ Award was presented to Marisa Arriola, director of BIC Gipuzkoa Berrilan.

The business sector linked to Biohealth in the Basque Country is currently experiencing a very sweet moment thanks to the strong investment drive in R&D&I programmes carried out in recent years, with accumulated investments of close to 500 million euros in the last four years. In 2022 alone, Basque companies in the sector launched new investments in these areas worth more than 150 million euros, in line with the amounts earmarked for this purpose in recent years.

These figures were announced at the General Assembly of the BHC, Basque Health Cluster – an organisation that brings together 115 companies and organisations working in the field of health and bio-health in the Basque Country.

This event -included in the BHC Eguna which establishes a reference meeting for the different agents that make up the ecosystem of the Biohealth sector in the Basque Country- brought together more than a hundred representatives of the sector with the institutional opening of the Basque Government’s Minister of Economic Development and Environment, Arantxa Tapia, who reviewed the challenges facing the sector.

During the business meeting, the director of the Basque Health Cluster, Idoia Muñoz Lizán, emphasised “the historic moment” that the sector is experiencing, with record figures in turnover, exports and employment. Thus, the business sector linked to the biohealth industry in the Basque Country generated an aggregate business of 2,400 million euros. This figure is more than 25% higher than the turnover figures achieved the previous year.

One of the keys that explain the good evolution of Basque Biohealth in 2022 is attributed to the good performance of sales in foreign markets, which reached the record figure of 575 million euros, 24% of total sales, with annual increases of over 25%.

Similarly, the good turnover figures have led to the creation of an incipient business hub that now directly employs more than 10,000 people (with an increase in the year of nearly 500 new jobs) and an accumulated estimate of 30,000 professionals, if we take into account the indirect employment generated by ancillary companies and other organisations such as technology or research centres. This is employment with high technical profiles and with a majority presence of women in all areas (especially in areas linked to research).

Strategic challenges for the BioHealth sector

The Basque Health Cluster Assembly – where the appointment of Idoia Muñoz Lizán as the organisation’s new director general was confirmed – presented the strategic lines of the organisation’s 2024-2027 Strategic Plan, with the aim of making the Basque Country an international benchmark in the field of health and biosciences.

To achieve this,” Muñóz Lizán stressed in his speech, “we need to promote collaboration, innovation and knowledge transfer between our members and the different public and private institutions”. In his opinion, the sector must urgently address the challenges of the sector, “at a time of accelerated changes and constant challenges in the field of health, which require close collaboration, agile innovation and the resilience of all the agents involved in the field of Biohealth and Bioscience”.

For his part, the president of the Basque Health Cluster, Asier Albizu, referred in his speech to the challenges facing the Basque sector in the coming years, among which he emphasised the need to attract and retain new professional talent, “increasingly scarce, especially in local specialised profiles that are critical for the sector, such as those who work in the areas of quality or regulation”. Another of the challenges pointed out by Asier Albizu is the difficulty in accessing the market for new healthcare products and services designed in the Basque Country.

In his opinion, “we are witnessing a growing and changing regulation derived from the lack of standardisation in the regulations between countries which affects all European countries and which is delaying the commercialisation processes, especially among SMEs”. Albizu also echoed the need to achieve ad-hoc financing in accordance with the special conditions of this sector, with high investments in R&D&I and long delays in financial returns, among other different aspects of the sector.

José Miguel Azkoitia’ Award

Finally, the BHC EGUNA was the setting for the presentation of the ‘José Miguel Azkoitia’ Award, a doctor from the UPV/EHU who passed away in 2018 and one of the driving forces behind the activation of the BioHealth sector in the Basque Country. This industrial engineer, with a long research career focused on Biomedical Engineering, Health Technologies, Robotics and ICT, combined his research work with the dissemination of science and technology in the media.

In its second edition, the heads of the Basque Health Cluster decided to award the aforementioned prize to Marisa Arriola, general manager of BIC Gipuzkoa Berrilan. In the opinion of the jury, Marisa Arriola represents “a clear example of leadership in the promotion of egalitarian entrepreneurship and intra-entrepreneurship among future generations. She is one of the few women who, in the industrial world of Gipuzkoa in the 1990s, developed process re-engineering consultancy for the take-off of various organisations in the machine-tool sector, importing trends from the USA to improve the competitiveness and results of the companies she supported”.


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