CERCA centers

More than 13,000 people working at the frontier of knowledge to advance society.

  • Field

  • Universities

  • Networks / Associations

CERCA in figures

Research centres
Research staff
Budget 2021
Spin-offs created

Key indicators in Europe

Horizon 2020 programme

European Research Council (ERC)
€M return
Projects coordinated

Horizon Europe programme


European Research Council (ERC)
€M return
Projects coordinated


WoS publications 2019-2022
Most cited
Patent families
Patents licensed


The CERCA model is based on centre-driven achievement of ambitious scientific and technological milestones and implementing joint policies and strategies. Centres optimise their assets and share common actions and best practices. In addition, strategic institutional assessment systematically corrects possible contingencies.

CERCA assessment

This is based on the principles of quality, transparency and objectivity. Assessment allows deviations to be corrected and strengthens what is already working well. Through assessment, researchers and the centre management realise that their work is reviewed for its impact and interest. And finally, assessment means we can evaluate the use of public money, which is of paramount importance in our system. The assessments provide essential information to help guide Catalan Government policy for the centres and ensure it is not just prospective.

The good performance of CERCA centres has been verified through the CERCA assessment, which is on-going and now in its third cycle, ending in 2023. This task, fully understood by the centres, helps improve our centres and raise our international standing thanks to assessors from all over the world who agree to participate in the panels.

CERCA Code of Conduct

A reference framework has been defined for the centres, which offers a commitment to good practice in science and management, following the recommendation of the European Federation of Academies of Sciences and Humanities (ALLEA).

The CERCA Code of Conduct fills an important gap in our system of centres and provides impetus and assurance of work well done in areas such as transparency, open access to data and results, management of industrial property, scientific integrity and relations with the media.


The actions of the CERCA ombudsperson are aimed at ensuring compliance with the CERCA Code of Conduct, preventing irregularities in the CERCA system and providing young researchers with a framework to generate trust in compliance with rules.

Cases may be brought to the ombudsperson regarding disagreements among researchers, conflicts and questions of integrity, scientific malpractice and non-compliance with the CERCA Code of Conduct.

In each CERCA centre, when cases are considered to require further investigation, free of conflict of interest, such cases may be referred to the CERCA ombudsperson, who must act under the principle of neutrality between all parties involved. This includes cases involving centre management or several CERCA centres and also particularly serious cases. However, the CERCA centre’s ombudsperson must first review the case and issue a preliminary report.

The CERCA ombudsperson should refrain from stepping in when other bodies or institutions are already acting on the same issue. They must also avoid acting if the facts are subject to judicial investigation.

Any natural person who works at a CERCA centre, centre managers and third parties who may be involved in a matter related to the activity of a CERCA centre may ask for the ombudsperson to intervene.

HRS4R, the tool for the implementation of the European Charter & Code for Researchers

Since 2014, the CERCA Institute has supported and ensured all its centres in obtaining HRS4R accreditation as bodies committed to the European Charter & Code for Researchers. This means the European Commission recognises them as centres of excellence in human resources management and endorses them in this field with regard to attracting new researchers and their projects. 

Manager selection

Management in CERCA centres is of vital importance, as it shapes the direction of the institutions in future years. For this reason, in addition to the candidate’s scientific solvency and management skills, the selection system must ensure the candidate has the endorsement of the scientific community itself, as is the case in the main European research institutions. The CERCA Institute acts as the executive office in this process, which starts with a public and international call for applications, open to the entire scientific community.

Implementation of joint policies

The CERCA model is also characterised by the implementation of a number of joint policies and strategies. The activity arising from the working groups results in sharing strategic actions so the centres and the system as a whole can optimise assets.

Currently the main joint strategic initiatives being carried out are in the fields of data management, knowledge transfer and cybersecurity.