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Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB Barcelona), a science innovation hub

Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB Barcelona), a science innovation hub

IRB Barcelona

Located in the Barcelona Science Park, it is made up of more than 450 professionals from different backgrounds.

Barcelona has the potential to become one of the leading European cities for scientific research in Europe. In fact, the city is already home to numerous outstanding science and technology research centers, including the Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB) Barcelona, the Barcelona Institute of Science and Technology (BIST), the Institute of Photonic Sciences (ICFO), the Barcelona Supercomputing Center (BSC), and many others.

Located in the Barcelona Science Park (PCB), the Institute for Research in Biomedicine Barcelona brings together universities, business and citizens to gain a deeper understanding of the foundations of health and disease. Its numerous activities involving public participation and science education help to make science more accessible to members of society.

The focus of research at IRB Barcelona is to discover solutions to hitherto unmet medical needs. Lines of research include research into the development of cancer, ageing, and metabolism in order to facilitate diagnosis and treatment.

Research at IRB Barcelona is split into three interdisciplinary research programs that are structured to enable close mutual interaction. This innovative research is carried out by 420 professionals from 35 different countries, ranging from researchers and international leaders in the field of biomedicine to technical and support staff.

"Several companies specialized in biomedicine have emerged from the IRB, including Ona Therapeutics and Inbiomotion, among others"

Technology transfer is of key importance to IRB Barcelona, which has launched six spin-offs since its creation in 2005. As its director Francesc Posas explains, "As a center for basic research, IRB Barcelona’s mission is to transfer our knowledge to society. One of ways we do this is to launch spin-offs that enable our research to benefit patients suffering from conditions that don’t yet have remedies."

The most recent IRB spin-off is Gate to Brain, a company that employs an innovative technology that transports drugs to the brain across the blood-brain barrier, the main obstacle preventing drugs accessing the brain and curing various diseases.

IRB Barcelona has created two companies in the field of cancer treatment: Ona Therapeutics is developing a new drug for the treatment of metastatic cancer and has closed a funding round of 30 million euros this year, the first spin-off in Spain to achieve this amount in an initial round. Managed by Asabys Partners through its Sabadell Asabys vehicle, the fund also has contributions from Alta Life Sciences, Ysios Capital, FundPlus (Belgium) and BPI France (France).

Also in the field of oncology, 2011 saw the creation of Inbiomotionprovides personalized medicine. Its objective is to improve cancer patients’ quality of life by developing biomarkers that can predict bone metastasis. Initially funded by a 2 million euro financing round that included Ysios Capital, Fundació Privada Vila Casas, and JVRisk Technologies as shareholders, the company received 2.2 million euros in 2016 in a second round led by La Caixa.

 Nostrum Biodiscovery and Iproteos are further outstanding spin-offs.  The former is a biotechnology company created in 2016 by IRB Barcelona and the Barcelona Supercomputing Center (BSC-CNS). Its aim is to discover and launch new drugs and biotechnology molecules on the market. The company has received 1.5 million euros in funding to date, including contributions from the Marcelino Botín Foundation, the Ministry of Science, and the Horizon 2020 program. As part its internationalization process, it has now entered the American market.

Iproteos, which specializes in third generation drugs against diseases of the central nervous system such as schizophrenia, epilepsy and atherosclerosis, has just merged with Bionure. The new company was launched with an initial funding round of 7.6 million euros and is called Accure Therapeutics.

Cristina Horcajada, Head of Innovation at IRB Barcelona, asserts that "spin-offs are essential for ensuring that the results obtained in our research end up as market products. In order to achieve this we work to ensure that our research generates ground-breaking innovation and plays its part in meeting new medical challenges."

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