The Catalan Government approves the CERCA Institute programme contract and increases the budget for the 2020-2023 period

The Catalan Government has approved the signing of the addendum to the programme contract between the Generalitat de Catalunya and the CERCA Institute for the period 2020-2023, representing an increase of over 700,000 euros to its initial funding.

The purpose of the addendum is, firstly, to adapt to the new organisation of the Generalitat de Catalunya in terms of designating and determining the spheres of authority of Generalitat de Catalunya ministries and, secondly, to match the objectives and pillars set out in the Catalan Agreement on the Knowledge Society (PN@SC), approved by the Catalan Government

in 2020.

In the initially approved programme contract, in which the Ministries of Research and Universities, Health, Business and Labour, and Climate Action, Food and Rural Agenda participate, contributions from the Generalitat de Catalunya to the CERCA Institute were set at 2,316,000 euros. This has now been raised to 3,026,000 euros in the new addendum to guarantee adequate funding for the Institute’s objectives.

Eradicating gender-based violence in universities and research centres

Manifesto of the CIC Women and Science Committee for 25 November, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women

The 25th of November was declared International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women at the first Latin American and Caribbean Feminist Summit, held in Bogotá in July 1981, in memory of the violent murder of the Mirabal sisters, three political activists assassinated on 25 November 1960 by the secret police under the dictator Rafael Trujillo in the Dominican Republic. The UN reinforced the day’s official status in 1999. It is a day that still needs to be remembered because, despite progress in certain aspects of male violence against women, such as identifying it, raising its visibility and reporting it, we must continue to highlight the persistent resistance to its eradication, the shocking figures on the issue and because such violence is a violation of human rights.

The current legal framework is increasingly driving towards effective equality by implementing measures to eradicate gender-based violence. Royal decrees and laws passed in the last two years have introduced commitments for society in general and specific obligations for universities. Law 17/2020 extended its mandate to universities, with a firm commitment to eliminating gender-based violence. For instance, it urges us to include specific content on gender-based violence in proposals for curricula, eliminate sexist and discriminatory texts, provide adequate training in the gender perspective, avoid revictimisation in procedures and informative and disciplinary proceedings arising from applying the protocols, and to provide equality units with the necessary resources to satisfactorily carry out their tasks. The University Coexistence Act should also help us protect the university community from violence, discrimination and harassment, by looking at the causes of violence and its risk factors, thus preventing and eradicating violence against women, and by implementing psychological and legal support measures for victims.

The Catalan Government has also expressed its willingness to guarantee women’s right to the structural eradication of male violence against women, adopting a comprehensive approach in the Government Plan. The creation of the Ministry of Equality and Feminisms in 2021 makes explicit this commitment and the need for organisations to lead joint strategies to fight gender-based violence, as expressed in the recent assessment conducted by Ivàlua. A further commitment is the approval of the Framework Protocol for Intervention with Due Diligence in Situations of Gender Violence, recently approved by the National Committee for Coordinated Intervention against Gender Violence.

As generators and transmitters of knowledge and values, universities and research centres must become leading institutions in terms of equality and commitment to eliminating all violence against women. However, the university and research world is not free of structural patriarchal dynamics and the gender-based violence stemming from them. Reversing this requires the joint involvement of everyone in all areas of authority. Thus, the Inter-university Council of Catalonia (CIC) Women and Science Committee is coordinating work to improve the efficiency of protocols against sexual and gender-based harassment in all Catalan universities. In recent years, universities and research centres have developed projects with funds from the State Pact Against Gender-based Violence and the CIC has launched the Teaching Innovation in Gender Violence (INDOVIG) grants, using both the state and its own funds.

Catalonia’s universities and research centres also have a social responsibility to the past, present and future, requiring an urgent feminist commitment to comprehensive transformation with a gender perspective here and elsewhere. Consequently, this year, with special emphasis on commemorating 25 November, we denounce the rise in cyber-bullying and digital violence against women, cases of chemical submission and feminicides of all kinds, including the invisible ones of environmental activists, and we ratify the statement published by the CIC on the murder of the Mahsa Amini in Iran, where, beyond mourning, the women’s revolution continues.

Catalan Minister for Research and Universities Joaquim Nadal new president of the CERCA Institute

Joaquim Nadal i Farreras (Girona, 1948) is a professor of Contemporary History. He has lectured at the Universities of Liverpool (1970-1972), the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (1972-1992) and the University of Girona (1992-2018) and holds an honorary doctorate from the University of Perpignan. He was also director of the Catalan Institute for Cultural Heritage Research, a CERCA centre, between 2013 and 2022.

He was Minister for Territorial Policy and Public Works from 2003 to 2010, Minister of the Presidency in 2006 and government spokesman from 2003 to 2006. He was previously the mayor of Girona, from 1979 to 2002, and president of the Federation of Municipalities of Catalonia (FMC) from 1981 to 1995. He was also a member of the Catalan Parliament, where he was president of the parliamentary group and spokesman at various times.

Appointment of the Minister for Research and Universities (DOGC 8769A of 10.10.2022)

CERCA delegation to visit Finland

The aim of the trip is to establish partnerships and new projects with R&D institutions in the country.

From Tuesday to Friday, a delegation of centres led by Lluís Rovira, director of CERCA, will visit different research and innovation bodies associated with the Finnish Government.

The Catalan delegation, made up of directors and researchers from Agrotecnio, the International Center for Numerical Methods in Engineering (CIMNE), the Centre for Research in Agricultural Genomics (CRAG), the Centre for Ecological Research and Forestry Applications (CREAF), the Forestry Science and Technology Centre of Catalonia (CTFC), the Institute of Chemical Research of Catalonia (ICIQ), the Institute of Agrifood Research and Technology (IRTA) and members of the Ministry of Climate Action, Food and Rural Agenda will meet on Wednesday with representatives from the Natural Resources Institute of Finland (LUKE), the Institute for the Environment (SYKE) and a delegation from the University of Lapland and the Geology and Mining Institute (GTK). On Thursday, they will attend a reception at the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry and will meet with the European Forest Institute (EFI), the Centre for Research and Technology (VTT), the GTK, Business Finland and the Finnish Research Academy.

The meetings, all of them with a high technical and institutional content, are expected to raise awareness of the importance of the research activity conducted by the participating centres, as well as the Catalan research and innovation ecosystem, which seeks to become a benchmark in Europe.

The trip is part of the agreement signed between the CERCA centres and LUKE last March, through which the CERCA Institute seeks to open up the research and innovation potential of the Catalan system of centres to potential new partners with whom there is currently little or no relationship. The visit is also expected to open the door to new partnerships between institutions for the next European Commission calls for proposals in 2023 and 2024.

CERCA centres and the Natural Resources Institute of Finland sign a partnership agreement

The agreement signed this week with the Natural Resources Institute of Finland (LUKE) is aimed at submitting European projects jointly to Horizon Europe calls for proposals, especially in the fields of life sciences, bioeconomy, forestry, agri-food and ecology. CERCA centres and LUKE will also work on research data management policies, technology transfer and other cross-cutting issues affecting research and innovation management.

The agreement includes the possibility of opening mobility programmes for research staff, co-organising workshops and symposia on topics of mutual interest and, especially, exchanging experiences in research assessment.

A CERCA delegation plans to visit the LUKE facilities in Finland in the near future, and Finnish researchers plan to do the same before the end of the year.

The LUKE is a research institute whose aim is to promote the bioeconomy and sustainable use of natural resources, linked to the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry.

CERCA centres support Ukrainian research

The CERCA system of Catalonia’s research centres currently includes 42 centres employing around 12,000 people. It is now a European leader in research and innovation excellence.

The CERCA system opposes all forms of war to resolve disagreements between people, countries or regions. There is no rational justification for loss of human life through war.

We condemn the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which has resulted in so many deaths and numbers of displaced people, forced to leave their lives and their country behind.

Furthermore, this war is also a direct threat to the lives of people in Ukraine’s scientific community and the future of Ukrainian science.

The CERCA centres support the initiatives promoted by other European research institutions and we intend to carry out various actions to support them, to prevent a lost generation of scientists in this country.

CERCA Institute presents the 2021 Pioneer Awards

Graphene material for retinal implants, muscle fibre 3D printing, low-cost biosensors for disease detection, advances in the recording of neuronal activity, a new method for modelling faces and biotechnology applied to personalised medicine were the projects awarded in the eighth such awards.

The Pioneer Awards recognise recent PhD graduates who have aimed their research towards industrial or commercial results.

Today the CERCA Institute held the 2021 Pioneer Awards ceremony with the participation of winners, institutions and partner companies. Luis Rovira, director of the Institute, highlighted the quality of the work presented and the real interest shown by several companies, including negotiating a patent.

The winners of the 8th Pioneer Awards are:

Dr Damià Viana Casals for the thesis “EGNITE: Engineered Graphene for Neural Interface”
The Jury considered that the thesis, which describes a microelectrode technology based on EGNITE, a porous graphene material that provides a stable and high-performance bidirectional neural interface, has optimal applications in neural therapy, among other fields, a high impact potential and a technological readiness level (TRL) that is very close to market.

Dr Rafael Mestre Castillo for the thesis “Hybrid bio-robotics: from the nanoscale to the macroscale”
The Jury considered that the thesis, on the development and application of muscle tissue-based bioactuators and biorobots and the improvement of their manufacture using 3D printing technologies, could have a major impact on several sectors and applications.

Dr Patricia Ramírez Priego for the thesis “Low-cost point-of-care biosensor device for clinical diagnosis in developing countries”
The Jury considered that the thesis, which has fully developed an innovative portable biosensor for the rapid diagnosis of tuberculosis (TB) directly in urine samples, could have a major social impact, especially in developing countries, and a clear commercial opportunity.

Dr Eduard Masvidal Codina for the thesis “Graphene microtransistors: in wide-bandwidth technology for recording brain field potentials”
The Jury considered that the thesis, which develops flexible neural interfaces based on graphene transistors (gSGFETs) and studies their use for recording neural activity, comparing them with current cutting-edge technologies, demonstrates an implementation of the technology with a major impact on its area of application.

Dr Gemma Rotger Moll for the thesis “Lifelike Humans: Detailed Reconstruction of Expressive Human Faces”
The Jury considered that the thesis, which develops new techniques to achieve the automatic creation of detailed and realistic synthetic character faces (CGI) using low-cost setups, has a direct application for the current and future world of entertainment.

Dr Ariadna Montero Blay for the thesis “Engineering Mycoplasma species for biotechnological and biomedical applications”
The Jury considered that the thesis, which explores how different mycoplasma species can be exploited biotechnologically or in the field of biomedicine, opens the door to new approaches in the field of personalised medicine.

Each prize is worth 1,000 euros, granted by the CERCA Institute and the participating organisations, which this year were the Mobile World Capital Barcelona The Collider programme, the Catalan Foundation for Research and Innovation (FCRI), the Chamber of Commerce and the Caixa d’Enginyers bank.

The jury was made up of Melba Navarro, technology transfer expert at the International Center for Numerical Methods in Engineering (CIMNE); Nadia Pons, director of the Health Entrepreneurship Program at the Barcelona Medical Association; Núria Martí, director of Innovation at Biocat; Manuel Palacín, director of the Mobile World Capital Barcelona The Collider programme; Julià Manzanas, RBDM Southern Europe with AREOPA Group International and president of the Catalan Association of Economists Knowledge Economy and Innovation Committee; and Joan Sansaloni, head of the Industrial and Intellectual Property unit at ACCIÓ.

You can view a video of the event here.

TECNIO association created to promote technology transfer in Catalonia

It brings together the 59 research groups that have been awarded the TECNIO seal by ACCIÓ, which includes the Catalan universities, the CERCA Institute and the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC)

The Catalan Minister for Business and Labour, Roger Torrent i Ramió, and the Catalan Minister for Research and Universities, Gemma Geis, took part in the presentation of the initiative on Monday afternoon

All the Catalan universities, the CERCA Institute and the CSIC have formed a new association, presented on Monday, to promote technology transfer and links with the business world through their research groups and centres with the TECNIO seal. The initiative is supported by the Generalitat de Catalunya through the Ministry of Business and Labour’s agency for business competitiveness, ACCIÓ.

The new “TECNIO Association” is made up of the 59 research groups that currently hold the TECNIO accreditation granted by ACCIÓ, a seal that identifies technology developers in Catalonia to facilitate connections with companies. The new association will receive 300,000 euros in funding from ACCIÓ over the next three years to strengthen the market vision of these agents and bring them closer to companies.

The aim of the new body is to bring together and raise the visibility of activity by research groups with the TECNIO seal, to foster collaboration between them and promote them as an instrument for connecting to businesses and government agencies. The Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, the University of Barcelona, the University of Girona, University of Lleida, Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya-BarcelonaTech, Pompeu Fabra University, Ramon Llull University, Rovira i Virgili University, the University of Vic–Central University of Catalonia, the CERCA Institute and the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC) are part of the project with the aim of accelerating knowledge transfer from research laboratories to society.

The presentation ceremony for the new association, which took place on Monday afternoon at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB), was attended by the Catalan Minister for Business and Labour, Roger Torrent i Ramió, the Catalan Minister for Research and Universities, Gemma Geis, the Director General for Industry and CEO of ACCIÓ, Natàlia Mas, the Director General for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Lluís Juncà, the director of the UAB, Javier Lafuente, and the president of the TECNIO Association, Nora Ventosa

During his speech, Torrent stressed that this partnership “will allow us to take a further step in building partnerships between companies and research agents in Catalonia to ensure that knowledge generated in universities is transferred to the productive sector. This translates into incorporating more differential technology in companies, more business R&D and, in short, more competitiveness and impact on the market,” he stressed.

For her part, the Catalan Minister for Research and Universities explained that “Catalonia’s major challenge is to improve its capacity for innovation so that this becomes one of the main driving forces of the economy. We must put talent at the service of the country’s transformation, in order to develop a more innovative business fabric that raises competitiveness, and the centres with the TECNIO seal of quality are a good model to follow.”

The TECNIO centres

The 59 groups with the TECNIO seal are technology developers recognised by the Agency for Management of University and Research Grants (AGUAR) that conduct applied research in differential technologies and have the capacity to transfer it to the market through R&D projects with companies, patent licences and the creation of technology-based start-ups. These research groups specialise in different areas, mostly from within Catalan universities. They are distributed throughout the country and are active with both SMEs and large companies in Catalonia and Europe.

This accreditation, which began in 1999 with the launch of the Xarxa IT and is periodically renewed, identifies the most qualified research groups with experience in business projects to provide easier access to them for companies and thus boost technology transfer in Catalonia. For example, between 2016 and 2019, the accredited centres obtained 300 million euros in total income and 90 million euros in RDI contracts from companies. In addition, 61 patents emerged from their applied research which were transferred to companies and 17 spin-offs were created.

Among other actions to boost the market impact of these research groups, since 2018 ACCIÓ has allocated more than 8 million euros to the INNOTEC line, targeting R&D projects developed jointly between companies and TECNIO research or university groups in areas such as ICT, biotechnology, photonics, manufacturing, new materials and nanotechnology, among others.

Link to press release

Incorporation of the 157 spin-offs from CERCA centres into the Flintbox technology catalogue

The new CERCA System Technologies catalogue is displayed on the Wellspring platform

The CERCA Institute has collected data on 58 products and 157 spin-offs from CERCA centres on the Flintbox platform. This is one of the leading marketplaces for commercialising technologies, especially in the US and Asian markets.

What is Flintbox?
Flintbox, a technology from the transfer expert Wellspring, enables us to organise a catalogue of technologies from CERCA centres. It also gives us access to the AIM Marketplace of the Association of University Technology Managers (AUTM, a worldwide network of tech transfer offices), aimed at the North American and Asian markets.

We are developing the catalogue in conjunction with the centres. We maintain the files for spin-offs and projects that have received support from the Gínjol patent fund while the transfer manager for each centre manages all other technologies they may have.

How many files are there right now?
At the moment we have two complete catalogues. One contains the 60 projects of the Gínjol patent fund and the other the 157 CERCA centre spin-off companies, and we are also working on a new catalogue of scientific platforms. All of them can be viewed in the “Portfolios” section.

The spin-offs are linked to ACCIÓ’s StartupHub Catalonia database, which we are also working with, so the two databases will be complementary.

What is the plan for incorporating the centres’ portfolios?
We are currently working with the Institute of Chemical Research of Catalonia (ICIQ) and the Centre for Genomic Regulation (CRG) to incorporate their catalogues as a pilot scheme. Once we get the go-ahead, this will be extended to the rest of the centres.

How is the information updated?
Each catalogue is maintained by the person in charge at each centre. We do this in the case of spin-offs and Gínjol projects, although the centres can update the data whenever they wish.

The portfolios of each individual centre will be maintained by their transfer units. Each file has its own person in charge, a sort of product manager. The final aim is to work together on organisation while distributing maintenance.

In the working group set up with the centres, we have jointly decided on the basic organisation of the information. We are now working on the categories and keyword ontology, which is an on-going project.

What can we expect?
We have implemented an idea that was activated a few years ago on paper but was difficult to maintain. This tool makes it easier. The idea is simple: a catalogue of CERCA Centre Technologies.

Access the Flintbox portal