Each year, the Generalitat de Catalunya allocates around 100 million euros to funding CERCA centres, which overall have a budget of move than 400 million euros. This government programme seeks not only to raise additional funds for research, by involving different actors such as universities, hospitals and the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC), but also to raise the visibility for the CERCA Institute to show Catalonia and the world the reality and potential of well organised and effective Catalan research, as is common in well developed countries and economies.
The CERCA programme has achieved significant levels of execution in its research, as measured by its leadership in obtaining European subsidies and European Research Council (ERC) Proof of Concept (PoC) grants, its numerous prestigious high-impact publications, its contribution to international initiatives, the talent it attracts and the creation of companies. However, it has not yet sufficiently managed to raise the overall visibility of the CERCA Institute, besides the work of each centre individually (which is also important!).
As an Anglo-Saxon might say, as a matter of accountability, CERCA centres need to become more involved (in exchange for the basic contributions they receive) by contributing assets to this joint brand which, according to certain indicators, overshadows European institutions such as the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS), the Max Planck Society, CSIC, the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research (INSERM) and the National Institute of Agricultural Research (INRA).
Press releases, websites, institutional agreements, participation in congresses and conferences, and many other activities are good ways of contributing to the common CERCA identity, which, as a platform, should make us stronger in scientific decision-making in both Europe and internationally. Failing to do so means losing assets.
More effort needs to be made on this issue by each of the 40 or more centres belonging to the CERCA Institute. The acid test will be when every researcher knows they are working in a CERCA centre. We are yet to reach this point.