At the end of April of this year, the Government of Andorra and the multinational pharmaceutical company Grífols agreed to work together on the implementation in the Principality of Andorra of a Research center dedicated to biomedical technology in immunology. As we told you in our article on Horitzó 23 and the initiatives of the Government for the rest of its legislature In order to alleviate the consequences of the Covid-19 crisis, its proposal for build a technology park dedicated to specific sectors (digital, health, biotech) with public-private initiatives is developing and progressing adequately.
The two participants
In this case, the initiative has been carried out through Andorra Development and Investment (ADI), a public agency created in 2008, when Andorra accelerated its transformation, precisely to "equip itself with a more agile and dynamic management instrument" in the process of modernizing the Andorran economy and thus achieve "the beloved impulse and support for businessmen and entrepreneurs", which "requires an agile and efficient interlocutor", who takes advantage of «The advantages derived from the adjustment of
the activity to private law (more agility, flexibility, speed and efficiency) ”, and on the other hand,“ maintain the essential link to the public organization, to the Government ”.
On the other hand, the partner company of this understanding agreement is Grifols, a Multinational company in the health sector operating since 1909 specialized in the production of plasma-derived drugs and transfusion medicine. It is a Catalan company, from Barcelona, whose founder the hematologist doctor Josep Antoni Grifols i Roig gave it its name and which since the end of the last century has been expanding without pause, already offering its services in more than 100 countries and having a physical presence in more of 30.
A good start
The most ambitious objective of this initiative is to place Andorra at the forefront of world scientific research. The Immunology Research Center that will be located in Andorra and that will open with this collaboration is expected to become a flagship project in its field, since it would be one of the few research centers dedicated to developing treatments for immune system disorders in Europe with LEED certification (Leader in Energy Efficiency and Sustainable Design). It is expected that the construction of the headquarters of the Immunology Research Center of the Pyrenees will be located on the grounds of Casa Rossell in Ordino, a property that is owned by the Government.
To carry out the project, a new joint venture will be set up, owned by Grifols through its subsidiary GIANT (Grifols Innovation and New Technologies) in an 80%, and by ADI in a 20%. It is anticipated that the investment volume for the construction of the Center is about 25 million euros that would be contributed by the multinational pharmaceutical company Grifols, which would also invest around 7 million euros in research annually. For its part, the ADI will contribute 200 thousand euros annually. The Government will cede the use of the aforementioned public lands to ADI so that this company plans to build the headquarters of the scientific research center and subsequently operate the business properly.
An agreement entered into by both parties
The head of government, Xavier Espot, has celebrated the formalized agreement on the ADI Board of Directors. And it is that it represents a great advance in the objectives included in the Executive's roadmap of diversifying the economy by betting on priority sectors such as biotechnology, research and technological progress and promoting innovation, the attraction of human talent and the activities of High value added. Especially considering the health crisis of the covid-19 pandemic and the corresponding economic crisis that will precede it. As Spot has remarked, this project may stimulate, directly or indirectly, that other investments in the health sector and research can be implemented in Andorra.
For his part, Grifols' own co-director general, Víctor Grífols Diez, has also shown his satisfaction at starting the project and leading the construction of this Immunology Research Center located in southern Europe, in an environment as natural and inspiring as the Andorran Pyrenees. Grifols Diez has added that it intends to turn this physical and legal space into a world-class international center that contributes to the advancement of knowledge of the immune system and develops therapies to improve people's health and quality of life.
A) Yes, interests have come together very well. On the one hand, the Government's commitment to attracting international investments that develop an economy based on innovation, science and technology and that are sustainable and careful with the natural environment of Andorra. On the other hand, that of Grifols, which wants to give immunology the visibility it deserves given its importance in developing new therapies and medicines and attracting capital and talent to its business.
The activity of the Center
Baptized as the Pyrenees Immunology Research Center (PYIRC), the park will become a pioneering research space in all areas of immunology, working on solutions for therapeutic applications. You will have a advanced technological equipment and a group of cutting-edge scientists and technicians. It will be led by prestigious multidisciplinary scientists who will work in their own R & D & I research lines while promoting research in line with other international research teams.
It is also expected that the Center can host different teams for the development of specific scientific projects in the health field, although specifically it will seek to investigate the treatment of pathologies such as autoimmune diseases, cancer or emerging infectious diseases. Of course, it will host conferences, meetings and activities, among others and the agreement stipulates that Andorra benefits as a priority from the products that are developed in this Center.
A promising future
Thus, over the next few months the cession of the use of the land and the process of declaring the Project of National Interest will begin, for which the Government will previously process the appropriate legal modifications to make it possible. In the same way, the pharmaceutical company will develop the architectural plans for the construction and management of the building as well as the exploitation plans and technical and human resources for the fulfillment of the objectives of the research center.
The complex, which is expected to be completed in 2023, will consist of 6,000 expandable square meters and will be designed by Grifols Engineering and Grifols Innovation and New Technologies under the strictest environmental criteria and adaptation to a natural environment, that of Ordino, which aspires to be declared a biosphere reserve. It will also be able to create synergies with research centers in other countries, which will be a lever to attract, albeit temporarily, highly trained residents. Finally it is hoped that you can provide a career opportunities for many young people from Andorra who have so far had to expatriate.