The biotechnology sector in Spain invested nearly €770 million in R&D, 71% from biotech companies

Spain is ranked 9th in scientific production in biotechnology and has the highest percentage of scientific papers in high-impact journals of any country: 83.3%

AseBio Report 2019

Madrid, September 10th, 2020. The AseBio Report, considered the benchmark publication in the biotechnology sector since 2003, is published annually by the Spanish Bioindustry Association to provide a snapshot of the biotechnology sector in Spain. 

As it does every year, this Report provides a general overview of the status of the biotech sector, with several analyses of R&D investment, the most important financial operations, the sector’s economic impact, the talent working in the sector, and the biotechnology ecosystem in Spain, as well as studies on how science and biotechnology are perceived, and scientific and technological production measured in publications, patents, and products and services launched to market. 

In 2018, the biotechnology sector invested nearly €770 million in R&D, with strictly biotechnology firms (biotech companies) making up most of that investment, 71% of the total, followed by companies that use biotechnology as a production tool, which invested roughly 21%.

Biotech companies invest the most in R&D relative to production, with 5.5%. They are only surpassed by the R&D services and educational sectors. Furthermore, in 2018, biotech companies pulled ahead of the pharmaceutical sector, which has traditionally been ranked first after services and education. 

Strictly biotechnology companies are ranked among the top 10 sectors in terms of growth, with triple the average national rate.

Our commitment to science has inspired us to work to improve our system of R&D incentives. In this regard, 2019 was also the year the Association put the shortcomings of an underfunded, loan-based science and innovation system on the political and media agenda”, Ion Arocena, CEO of AseBio.

Talent and Diversisity

The sector is increasingly attracting young talent. The number of students enrolled in university studies in biotechnology rose every year from 2015 to 2019, to nearly 7,000 students the past academic year, 60% of which were women.

The biotechnology sector hires many researchers, above the Spanish average. Therefore, Biotech companies are ranked second in percentage of researchers to total employees in the sector.

In terms of women participating in the sector, nearly 60% of all employees involved in R&D activities at biotechnology companies are women, surpassed only by healthcare and social services and pharmacy.

Results of collaborations 

The science produced by the Spanish biotechnology sector is excellent and it holds more and more international patents.

Regarding production of scientific knowledge, Spanish biotechnology makes up 2.8% of global production and is cited 30% more than the global average in this area. Spain is ranked 9th in scientific production in biotechnology and has the highest percentage of scientific papers in high-impact journals of any country: 83.3%.

The biotech sector is protecting its innovations more and more internationally, mainly through the European Patent Office (42%) and PCT patents (32%).


Biotech companies posted a total joint turnover equal to 0.8% of the GDP with an impact of over €8.2 billion in income, roughly 0.7% of the national total. Furthermore, Biotech companies contributed 0.3% of the GDP in taxes and account for 105,000 jobs, 0.6% of national employment.

We want to make science and innovation part of the vision of the country we want to build, because they should be assets shared by the private and public sectors to generate social well-being. And at AseBio, we have a Deep commitment to raising visibility of our sector and giving our members a voice, as they are the driving force of the association, to valorize all their capacities and the transversal nature of their activity on all levels”, Ana Polanco, president of AseBio.


You can download the AseBio Report here 

Contact information

Teresa Salcedo
AseBio Manager of Communication

Samanta Chocrón
AseBio Head of Communication 

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