Science and knowledge-based innovation in Catalonia are evolving fast and well. But the timing is delicate. On the one hand, government authorities are digging in by filling any process related to research and innovation management with bureaucracy. This does nothing to help but does not look like it can be easily changed. On the other hand, research and innovation centres are looking for imaginative ways to tiptoe round the limits of current legislation, using what I like to term the “Ferraté tactic”*, in order to carry out their activity.
Right at the heart of these dynamics, at the CERCA Institute we continue to promote the activity of the centres through collaborative projects. To date, we have worked to ensure that a COFUND action with 21 CERCA centres soon becomes a reality. We have created a GÍNJOL patent fund, something unprecedented in our country, and for which we would be grateful for support from government authorities to make it more sustainable in its early years. We have managed the SUMA programme for the merger of centres, so far reducing the number of CERCA centres from 47 to 40, with no loss in scientific and technological competitiveness. We have assessed the CERCA centres systematically since 2012, providing valuable recommendations. We have contributed to dignifying the role of female researchers in research centres. We have speeded up the awarding of HRS4R accreditation for many research centres. We have overseen the creation of spin-offs and the selection of new centre directors. We have fought for fair VAT rebates for the centres (a battle that is on-going). We are working on a code of good conduct for CERCA centre managers and researchers, and we have worked with the Generalitat and I think with everyone else, among many other achievements.
But this is not enough. Either we align the efforts of the various actors or the sum of individual actions will have no significant effect. There are times ahead when the country will require coordination in all our actions to create economies of scale and deliver meaningful results.
(*) In reference to Gabriel Ferraté, Director of the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (Open University of Catalonia, UOC) from 1995 to 2005.