Spain · Life Sciences: Promote R+D, Far More Than An Investment

17 March 2020 - Antonio C. Jiménez Abraham

The coronavirus crisis has disrupted all of our lives. In very few days, normality has gone up in smoke and all our personal and employment-related actions, whether we like it or not, revolve almost exclusively around the pandemic that is threatening thousands of people and our economy. It will very likely change our way of life forever.

Each day that passes is crucial in finding a solution in the form of a vaccine or medication capable of slowing this global health crisis. Europe has now become the epicentre of the epidemic. Faced with the reality of unforeseeable consequences, it is urgent that we find a solution as soon as possible. It is for this reason that the European Commission, through the European Innovation Council (EIC pilot), announced yesterday a call for submissions, with a deadline of Wednesday, 18 March at 5pm, in search of start-ups and small- and medium-sized companies that can urgently provide scientific solutions to the coronavirus problem. The project is backed by 164 million euros in financing. The President of the Spanish Government has also just announced a 30 million euro investment in the investigation of coronavirus.

Without minimising the efforts of the large pharmaceutical companies, the European Commission has understood that what is needed now is speed and talent. That talent is in the teams of scientists and researchers working at universities, which are the origin of a large part of the start-ups and small- and medium-sized companies in the life sciences sector.

It is at times like these when it is shown that life sciences start-ups are not only an investment opportunity. Their work and talent must receive support and public and private backing, not only financial. This calls for amendments to the Law on Science and the Law on Universities which facilitate the technological transfer between universities and companies. Only this way will we be able to benefit from fresh and innovative ideas that can mean faster and more flexible solutions for the market than large pharmaceutical companies can provide. The agility of start-ups may be decisive.

Antonio C. Jiménez Abraham

Partner · Lawyer specialising in Biotech and Life Sciences