Guest blog post by Regina Revilla Pedreira, President of ASEBIO
In 2012 ASEBIO set out on its adventure in Latin America. A delegation of the Board of Directors of ASEBIO, the Spanish Bioindustry Association, which I have the honor of chairing, traveled from Spain to Colombia in order to explore opportunities of cooperation between the bioindustries in both countries. This mission became the first tangible milestone of our Association’s new international strategy approved in 2011, which for the first time looked at Latin America as a priority region for scientific, financial and business relations with the Spanish biotechnology sector.
Many institutions and people believed in the creation of a project called Biolatam, a partnering forum with a global reach and a Latin American approach, one which would be open to companies, research fellows and venture capital organizations. From Colombian institutions such as Innpulsa, Invest in Bogotá, Bogotá Town Council, the Government of Cundinamarca and Proexport, to Spain-based ones, like CDTI and ICEX, all immediately understood the extent of the challenge and the opportunities that this project meant both for Colombia and Spain. Biolatam had necessary and ambitious projects: achieving a platform for the development of bioenterprises in Latin America; becoming a showcase for the rest of the world to know about the unmet challenges and the advances of the region in biotechnology; and, as a new regular meeting point for the Latin diaspora that occupies relevant positions in biotechnology enterprises and institutions worldwide.
In total, Biolatam was attended by 700 delegates of 298 enterprises from 29 countries, who participated in 850 formal business development meetings and several partnership agreements were reached involving enterprises such as Amgen, Grifols, Sartorious, Biópolis, Owl Metabolomics, Neol Biosolutions, InKemia IUCT Group, Genetrix, 3P Biopharmaceuticals and BTI Biotechnology Institute.
This event helped us look at how in different Latin American countries—even those smaller in terms of size or scientific development—public sector and small biotech enterprises tackle endemic problems using biotechnology, problems that no one else is going to solve for them, like improving agricultural and livestock species of local interest or fighting against less well known diseases.
This double opportunity of, on the one hand, having Latin American biotechnology contribute solutions to the rest of the world and, on the other, applying local biotechnology to regional problems, is the basic concept behind Biolatam.
Latin America has large and untapped biological resources. It also has increasingly developed and expanding innovation systems and strong economic sectors (food, pharmaceutical, cosmetics, veterinary, energy, chemical) that are increasingly finding themselves in a new open-economy scenario in which biotechnology innovation can help them find the competitive advantage they are seeking.
We committed ourselves to creating the necessary event to attain these goals in Latin America—and to make it happen on a biennial basis. We have met that goal too, since this year, we are holding the second edition in Santiago de Chile November 16–17, in collaboration with EBD Group and with the support of Chile Biotech. There will be a fair, a partnering event organized by EBD Group’s partneringONE® and a program of lectures focused on advanced therapies, biosimilars, bioeconomy, diagnosis and treatment of infectious diseases, venture capital, animal health animal, health technologies, personalized health, cosmetics, food and food biotechnology, biodiversity, aquaculture, access to markets and biotechnology-cluster policies.
Chile is currently in the middle of changing its health system to make it easier for patients to gain access to innovation and receive innovative treatments. The Chilean government has made a commitment to improve the health of its population, especially of those affected by chronic diseases. This has brought about the creation of a strong local cluster committed to launching promising new treatments. Latin American countries and the idiosyncrasy of their economy, one mainly based on natural resources, offer excellent opportunities for Spanish biotechnology.