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Portugal: the right place to invest and build partnerships in Health


The Health sector is a prominent, fast-evolving sector in Portugal, which has experienced a remarkable evolution during the last couple of decades.


'Made in Portugal' means quality, reliability and competitiveness. Portuguese companies are internationally recognised as high-quality suppliers of healthcare products and services – e.g., pharmaceuticals, medical devices and other medical technologies –, having high standards of quality and being capable of developing, manufacturing and supplying a wide range of solutions, with high flexibility. A consistent offer also exists in the country in terms of contract development and manufacturing organisations, and producers of active pharmaceutical ingredients.

The Portuguese pharmaceutical and medical device industries have grown above the country's average in recent years, with increasing exports to countries such as the USA, Germany, UK, Spain and France. The Portuguese exports of goods from the health sector have grown by 123% between 2008 and 2017, to a value of EUR 1,398 million. This includes the export of pharmaceutical preparations (1,002 million), basic pharmaceutical products (93 million), medical and dental instruments and supplies (289 million), and irradiation, electromedical and electrotherapeutic equipment (14 million), not including sales of eHealth solutions and services.


Portugal has a vibrant and innovative Research & Development ecosystem, characterized by the presence of world-class institutions and scientists – international panels of experts have classified 13 out of 24 Portuguese Life and Health Sciences R&D Units as Exceptional, Excellent or Very Good – in areas such as neurosciences, cancer, immunology, regenerative medicine and nanomedicine (www.scienceportugal.com). The Portuguese scientific production in the areas of medical and health sciences (includes clinical medicine, basic medicine, and health sciences), life sciences and medical engineering has grown by 89% between 2008 and 2015, to a value of 8,096 publications – 38% of the entire scientific production of the country.

On the basis of this success is a high-quality education system, which every year graduates thousands of well-prepared professionals in areas such as medicine, nursing, therapy and rehabilitation, diagnostic and therapeutic technologies, biomedical sciences and pharmaceutical sciences, to mention a few. More than 600 of these new graduations each year correspond to new doctorates in the areas of life, medical and health sciences, and medical engineering.


Portugal also has a high-quality healthcare system, with excellent professionals and modernly equipped. This quality is regularly assessed by an independent national regulatory organisation, and there is a growing number of hospitals achieving international accreditation. And the ultimate evidence of the quality of the Portuguese healthcare system consists on the country's high-standard health indicators – Portugal has one of the lowest infant mortality rates in the world, and is in the front group of countries with the highest life expectancy at birth.

Besides its quality, which comes side-by-side with safety and innovation, the Portuguese offer in healthcare is also cost-competitive in several market segments. If taken together with factors such as the country's geographic location, its climate, its tourism, culture and leisure offer, and the hospitality of the people, for example, these characteristics make Portugal a perfect destination for health tourism (www.medicaltourisminportugal.com). This reality comprises both a public and a private component that complement and articulate with each other, thereby making available a highly qualified and differentiated offer.


Given the quality of Portuguese R&D institutions and hospitals, including the expertise of its human resources and the high-end facilities, the country is very well positioned to be a competitive supplier of specialised scientific/technological/analytical services, as well as an attractive destination for conducting clinical trials. The number of clinical trial applications submitted to the national competent authority has increased by 56% between 2011 and 2017.

One must mention the case of "TRIS-HCP | Translational and Clinical Research Infrastructures Specialisation Platform – Health Cluster Portugal", which is integrated in the Portuguese Roadmap of Research Infrastructures, and brings together many of the most prominent Portuguese R&D institutions, hospitals and academic medical centres. TRIS-HCP can assist researchers and companies (national or foreign) in finding the right partners for their R&D projects, since it makes available, through its members, a wide range of resources, services and expertise in the domains of translational and clinical research, mainly in the following specialisation areas: i) Diseases – cancer, cardiovascular, infectious, metabolic, neurological, rare; ii) Products – advanced therapy medicinal products and biologics, biomarkers, imaging and tracing, small molecules, vaccines.


Under the auspices of the Health Cluster Portugal (HCP), the Portuguese "Health ecosystem" is developing innovative projects in areas such as translational and clinical research, active and healthy ageing, eHealth, ambient assisted living, and health tourism. Universities, R&D institutions, hospitals and companies are all working together in the development of new solutions for improving human health.


As a result of the quality of the Portuguese health value chain, together with the attractiveness of the investment climate in the country, well-known multinational companies have chosen Portugal to establish production units and/or R&D centres.