At the end of the 1990s and at the start of this century, important business initiatives in the field of biotechnology emerged in Spain, mostly from universities and public research organisations, many of which are located in Madrid.

In addition to these new initiatives, areas very close to biotechnology, well-established companies based in Madrid, such as pharmaceutical companies, are already incorporating biotechnology in their R&D. All this is forming an industrial biotechnology fabric which is increasingly interrelated and consistent with the other players composing the biotechnology sector, ie, universities, research centres, science and technology parks, and regional development agencies.

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Back-up network

Madrid has a network of 15 universities, 30 public research bodies, more than 70 hospitals, and more than 400 companies directly and indirectly related to biotechnology. This high concentration of knowledge and strong support from institutions and public administration has allowed substantial development to take place in biotechnology in Madrid, to the point that it is considered one of the most important R&D centres for life sciences in Europe.

Innovation initiative

The Technological Innovation Plan 2005-2007, established in line with the Madrid Region Science Law, and in co-ordination with the Regional Plan for Research, Science and Technology Development, underlines the development of technological infrastructure (scientific-technological parks) and the creation of centres of high technology (clusters) as one of its priority programmes. As a result, the Madrid Region Parks and Clusters Network was created with the intention of developing the largest scientific, technological and university concentration in southern Europe.

Vectors for development

A total of 11 clusters will also be created, which will become vectors for development in strategic economic sectors in Madrid. One of these is the Madrid Biocluster, a cluster of biotech companies in the Madrid region established in early 2007, which proposes the following working objectives:

  • To promote co-operation between enterprises. universities and R&D centres in order to build marketable projects and improve quality of life for the citizens of the region.
  • To develop the companies internationally and attract FDI to Madrid.
  • To create and develop new financial tools appropriate to the biotechnology sector, to accelerate business growth and to help strengthen the economic development of the region.
  • To promote the education of students and workers in the biotechnology sector in Madrid.
  • To ensure the provision of the most suitable geographical environment for the development of biotech companies in the form of technological infrastructures, such as science and technology parks, of which there are already five with two more already under construction.

 

Economic fallout

Now that the consequences of the economic crisis are being noticed all over the world, in some countries more than others, interest is turning to new patterns or models of development that are different from those considered to be exhausted or a failure. Everywhere, there is talk of the need to invest more in R&D, to produce more sustainable development.

This is exactly what investments in biotechnology can generate and it is what has been under way in Madrid, with resulting growth indicators such as business turnover, employment, and the creation of new businesses, at more than 20% annually.