Por Mauro Rebelo

Bio Bureau Europe


The Bio Bureau was founded in 2009 with the aim of transforming the biotechnology research taking place within the university into solutions for society’s challenges in the search for sustainable development.

We began by focusing on our surroundings: the research carried out at UFRJ, the Brazilian (FINEP, CNPq) and Rio de Janeiro (FAPERJ) funding agencies, the challenges our companies were facing (metal contamination) and our regulatory environment (IBAMA and INEA).

But we quickly discovered that the challenges of sustainable development are global. All countries face problems with clean energy production, food security, invasive species, water and air quality. Opportunities were everywhere but it wasn’t easy for us, being in Brazil, to access them. One example is the European Union’s Horizon 2020 program, which made billions of euros available for innovative research, but provided very, very limited opportunities for Brazilian companies and research centers to receive these funds.

We also discovered open innovation and how companies of all sizes, sometimes competitors in the same segments, collaborated to innovate. And how they did it internationally, because technology now allowed us to have remote access to talent anywhere in the world. But again, our presence exclusively in Brazil, with a weak currency and difficulties importing inputs, didn’t put us in a privileged position to lead or collaborate. Despite having the competitive edge of knowledge and access to the greatest biodiversity on the planet, recognized by our peers, whenever we participated in a consortium it was with a minor role, below our possibilities and ambitions, simply because of our location.

It was clear to us that going international was a necessity in order to increase our competitiveness and realize our vision of impacting people’s lives through the development of biotechnology. It wasn’t a question of if, but when.

And that was in 2019. We won the soft landing Portugal challenge at the UFRJ Technology Park and went on a 7-day program in Lisbon during the Web Summit to prepare for the internationalization of the Bio Bureau. We discovered that Lisbon was one of the main innovation capitals in Europe and made valuable contacts. Back in Brazil, we began the process of setting up Bio Bureau Portugal.

Even the severe financial impacts of the pandemic in 2020 have not been enough to deter us from the purpose of internationalization. We will always be grateful for the dedication and diligence of Marcella Germano, who, in a short space of time, probably contacted all the business incubators in the country and evaluated all the support programs for startups in Portugal. And to the staff at Biocant, the life sciences technology park and biotechnology business incubator in Cantanhede, near Coimbra, who welcomed us with open arms and became the Bio Bureau’s home in Portugal. With an impressive laboratory infrastructure for both molecular biology and bioprocessing, Biocant is the perfect location for our facility and our business model based on contracting research and development projects.

Bio Bureau Portugal shares the execution team with Bio Bureau Brazil and is already working on the first project, leading a proposal with AIRCentre and Compelling for the EEA call in the Blue Ocean category.