This year, in the midst of the COVID-19 tsunami, a significant event took place for the CERCA system: the approval of the new CERCA Institute statutes. The change in the statutes of the Institució dels Centres de Recerca de Catalunya (CERCA Institute), under the Generalitat de Catalunya, involves incorporating the Catalan Ministries of Territory and Digital Policies onto the Board of Trustees, where the Ministries of Business and Knowledge, Economy, Health and Agriculture are already present. Thus the new CERCA Institute Board of Trustees is currently the main governing body or structure where most of the Generalitat ministries, in this case six, can meet to discuss different aspects of research in relation to the CERCA centres.
The new ministries included on the Board of Trustees are already present in the governing bodies of a number of research centres, such as the Centre for Ecological Research and Forestry Applications (CREAF), the International Center for Numerical Methods in Engineering (CIMNE), the Forest Science and Technology Centre of Catalonia (CTFC) and the Barcelona Centre for International Health Research (ISGlobal), in the case of the Ministry of Territory, and Internet and Digital Innovation in Catalonia (i2CAT), the Telecommunications Technological Center of Catalonia (CTTC) and the Computer Vision Center (CVC), in the case of Digital Policies, with contributions totalling close to €6 million. These centres contribute significantly to knowledge and technology to underpin the government action in both ministries, among others, covering in fields such as modelling and risk prevention for infrastructures and constructions, fires, natural park management, logistics and transport, forest management, bioeconomy, climate change, environmental health, 5G telephony, cybersecurity, manufacturing and the Internet, the blockchain, artificial and industrial vision, artificial intelligence, etc.
The new statutes facilitate even closer relations between the CERCA Institute and the newly incorporated trustees, taking different areas of governance into consideration in the research carried out by CERCA centres, while developing specific actions where appropriate. It is worth stressing that there is currently no other meeting place for so many Generalitat ministries to discuss research in detail. It strengthens the CERCA system and links exploitation of research impact to the Generalitat’s government actions, making it an important step in the right direction.
It should be remembered that the CERCA centres as a whole are the seventh largest European player in research¹, with an annual budget of around 500 million euros, a quarter of which comes from the Generalitat. In terms of technology, the CERCA system has created 120 technology-based companies, most of which are still operating today. The support and generosity of the Generalitat de Catalunya ministries is essential for CERCA to promote research projects achieving high level results and impact.