21 March 2024 TB Members Calling


TB Members Calling #94 | Luis Ruiz-Ávila: “We need to translate biomedical knowledge into economic and social value”

21 March 2024 TB Members Calling

Luis Ruiz-Ávila (Salamanca, 1963) is a key figure in the history of the biotechnological sector in Catalonia.

Although he humbly speaks of having had a “more or less dignified” academic career, the truth is that this Doctor in Molecular Biology dedicated his first ten years of professional career to research for CSIC, UB, or Mount Sinai Hospital in New York, among other internationally renowned centers. Then, in 1998, he transitioned to the pharmaceutical and biotech industry, managing projects for Almirall and other pioneering companies such as ERA-Biotech and Advancell.

In his mission to “create value from knowledge,” in 2008 he founded Janus Developments, a company focused on acquiring academic projects, their technical maturation, and subsequent licensing, which was acquired by Ferrer and ultimately led to Spherium. Since then, Luis, as the “valley of death enthusiast” he is, has been involved in early-stage biotech spin-offs as a mentor, business angel, or director through Janus Project. And he does so from the coworking space at Pier07 in Tech Barcelona.


TB: What is the purpose of your projects?

LR: In all of them, I always try to transform biomedical knowledge into economic and social value. Currently, with operational responsibility, I am the CEO of Leukos – a spin-off from the Josep Carreras Institute entering the clinical phase to treat tumors – and executive chairman of Aquilón – a spin-off from the University of León developing veterinary vaccines.


TB: Where do you see yourself and your projects in two years?

LR: While Leukos will begin its clinical development this year, hoping to have completed efficacy demonstration in two years, Aquilón has just submitted the registration for its first globally impactful vaccine.


TB: A good idea you’ve had.

LR: Leaving academic ‘wet’ research to explore business management in 1998.


TB: What is the greatest challenge you have faced?

LR: Always, always, always, finding, retaining, and empowering good teams. The rest is literature.


TB: The best advice you’ve been given.

LR: Never give up, life begins anew every day. I was told this by a homeless person sleeping in the doorway of my house when I was 15.


TB: A professional role model who inspires you.

LR: My first boss at Laboratorios Knickerbocker in the 80s, Pilar Urdániz, and Antonio Parente, from BCN-Peptides and GP-Pharma, whose work ethic and judgment I admire.


TB: A technology that will shape the future.

LR: Nuclear fusion. When we have unlimited energy, if we achieve it, the rules of the game will change completely. Until now, our entire civilization has been marked by the struggle for resources.


TB: In-person or remote?

LR: A balance: remote is efficient, in-person provides balance and mental health. We are social animals.


TB: A startup or company.

LR: I collaborate with Biointaxis, Heecap, Affirma, Kintsugi, and Diversa, and I do it because I am enthusiastic about their projects and teams.


TB: What do you do to disconnect?

LR: I grab my kayak and go fishing.


TB: A book to recommend.

LR: “Más árboles que ramas” by Jorge Wagensberg, and an adult reading of “Alice in Wonderland.”


TB: A series, movie, or song that defines your life right now.

LR: OnePiece: the anime, but especially the physical version on Netflix.


TB: A recipe, a restaurant.

LR: Any grilled meat, Argentine-style. As for restaurants, I’m not very gourmet; any “all you can eat” Japanese place works for me.


TB: A place in the world.

LR: I have a very idealized memory of the lakes around San Martín de los Andes in Argentina. Being practical, Sant Pol de Mar.


TB: Where would you invest 100k?

LR: I’m a terrible investor, I prioritize the emotional over the financial. I would use it to help start a challenging project driven by people I could potentially admire.


TB: If you weren’t an entrepreneur…

LR: I love teaching and research. I suppose I would have tried the university world.


TB: What does Tech Barcelona mean to you?

LR: Speaking of Pier07, it’s a place to interact with key figures in the current and future biomedical ecosystem in Barcelona. And also a space to impress friends, colleagues, partners, or investors.