- Date: February 12, 2019
ICREA research professor at IRB Barcelona, Roger Gomis has been a mentor at CaixaImpulse since the programme was founded in 2015, and he has advised a dozen different projects. He is also the founder of Inbiomotion, a spin-off that aims to predict breast cancer metastasis and take a step forward in the personalised treatment of the disease. In this interview, Gomis talks to us about what CaixaImpulse means to him and explains more about his role as mentor.
How would you rate the experience at Caixaimpulse?
Very positively, basically for two key reasons. On the one hand, CaixaImpulse covers a need in relation to some of the most important aspects for health and biomedical research. The programme has basically contributed to identifying good scientific projects, and has helped them become useful assets for both industry and the general population.
And what is the second reason?
Well, the programme has not only had an impact on specific projects, but has also boosted the ecosystem of knowledge transfer in Spain and Portugal. The projects that come forward now are better prepared than the ones that featured in the first edition. Of course it makes sense, as both researchers and project managers have started to understand what you need to do to get private investment and move a project from lab to market.
What do the mentors bring to the programme?
I think our main purpose is to build up the participants’ confidence. For a range of different reasons, we have all been in similar situations at some point, but we speak a language they can understand, and we help create a trusting environment so that they can tackle concepts and challenges that are completely new to them.
What kind of concepts?
Return on investment, market studies, legal aspects, and more. If you come from a purely research-based background, talking about business is a challenge. In any case, we are not here to tell participants what to do, but rather to help them assess their options and the possible outcomes. In the end, the entrepreneur is the one who has to choose, whether they get it right or make mistakes.
Broadly speaking, what are the strengths and weaknesses of participants?
Normally, their strength lies in being very good researchers. The research we do here in Spain is just as strong as the research in leading countries for science. On the other hand, the biggest weakness lies in the system itself. Until up to a decade ago, venture capital didn't exist here, and since it arrived everything needed for technology transfer has been growing at a very fast pace.
What do you think the main obstacle is for improving innovation indicators in Spain?
In my personal and perhaps somewhat biased opinion, I think the main obstacle lies in venture capital rather than science, and I think that's where the opportunity lies. One of the things going on is that European investment funds are starting to come here to look for opportunities. Thanks to Caixa Capital Risk and other funds, they have started to understand that scientific research here is just as good, and that opportunities can be even better, as there aren't as many competing investors.
More programme highlights
April 23, 2019
Josep Maria Font is the co-founder of ABLE Human Motion, a former CaixaImpulse project. We spoke to him to find out about the company’s progress and how this innovation will improve patients’ quality of life.
April 11, 2019
We spoke to two CaixaImpulse 2018 project leaders, who shared their experiences and tips for the next cohort.
March 28, 2019
11 of the 15 projects from CaixaImpulse 2015 have moved forward and are now at various stages in their development.