The Catalan technological centres: challenges and opportunities

June, 2012
The Catalan technological centres: challenges and opportunities

Jordi Camí Director of Barcelona Biomedical Research Park (PRBB)
Dr. Camí makes a clear distinction between technological parks and science parks. According to him, a technology park is linked to industrial mobilization while a science park is an incubator linked to the university and is more focused on research and patenting. He reminded how present resources appeared in a particular political and economic scenario which now we have the opportunity to think again on how to keep it working.
PRBB has followed the recent trend of clustering of the world of research and innovation that has contributed to increase the critical mass of science parks. PRBB employs 1,400 persons and 40% is scientific personnel abroad.
PRBB do not touch public subsidy in any regular and structured manner. We are landlords of the site and we must pay the credits by the equipment.
Our aim is to capture talent in exchange for a range of scientific and technical services.
The keys of success are: - Talent people will not be and feel alone. - A wide range of technology platforms and scientific and technical services. - The Barcelona brand and the park location by the sea. The park has created some companies that have been established in the nearby 22@ district.
Present parks structures were created in days of strong economic growth but now, in a complete different situation, they have to be think again under the leadership of the Government of Catalonia.
Fr. Xavier Gil
Associate Dean for Scientific Policy, Polytechnic University of Barcelona
The main feature of the UPC Technology Park is its focus on architecture and engineering. The UPC has established the INNOVA program to choose useful projects for the transfer of knowledge either as business/a company an enterprise or as a patent. The Park helps the researcher to set up the program of research in UPC where it will share with other research projects. The Park operates a patents and licenses office to protect and market ideas and patents.
The Park is organized into 21 centres with a total of 2,000 jobs in 300 companies from all fields of engineering and some regional specialization. We are also specializing in providing business services (up to 39 million of income). Paying premises are available to research groups who receive in exchange technological infrastructures and services.
Jordi Marquet
Director, UAB Research Park
Mr. Marquet considers it a science park with a mission to teach, research and knowledge transfer focused on innovation and spin-offs. Since 2001, 57 companies have already been created.
He defines the classical structure of a science park as a pyramidal structure with high level research in its base, integrated university services in the middle and a cluster of local innovation at the top. A future model should be based on two linked circles: in the first circle research funded by competitive and dissemination of knowledge are done. This knowledge (know-how) is transferred to the second circle where privately funded development takes place and gives as result, creation of wealth and employment.
This park has access to 4,000 scientists and host several research companies. He believes that the university should develop opportunities, not resolving needs.
Francesc Martos
Director, Vallès Technological Park
This park was created 25 years ago (1987) for public initiative and can be defined as an industrial project with the aim to create wealth and employment. At present it is formed by 141 companies that employ 2.875 people. There is a project sponsored by the Ministry of Industry to collaborate and give services to the companies located in the next industrial polygons.
Josep Maria Martorell
Research General Director, Ministry of Economy and Knowledge,
Generalitat de Catalunya
He focuses on scientific parks closely tied to their area better than in pure industrial parks. Given the current situation he considers that the first priority to save the system
from the financial point of view. An overview of the situation and medium term objectives shows:
- In relative terms, many indicators are positive: Catalonia publishes twice the European average.
- Considered in absolute terms, the indicators are not so good but important steps are being doing: we partners in large European projects such as PRACE, EIT KICS, FLAGSHIP MADE, CONSORTIUM CANCER... These interests suggest that we begin to have the volume and the critical mass to be measured with absolute value indicators.
- The objectives for the universities and science parks are:
o Improve governance, management and financing (2013)
o Promote common services.
o Establish a Catalan model of academic staff.
Present priority is to avoid any park default due to financial reasons. To achieve this we need:
o Real involvement of all stakeholders (regional and local governments).
o Negotiate with the State government to achieve the cancellation of some debt.
o Regional Government (Generalitat de Catalunya) feels involved in the use and optimization of existing infrastructures.
Some of the comments made during the debate were:
- There is no single Policy that links Research with Industry.
- Research in Catalonia is spectacular but there isn’t in the territory capacity to absorb it, so it has to internationalize.
- There is no industrial base to collect and use patents of public research with a technological nature.
- Not enough business networks for Biomedical Research is performed. The decision centers in the Pharma industry are neither in Catalonia nor in Spain.
- We must rethink the existing industrial model in Catalonia.
- In Research there is a 1st level of internationalization indisputable, but what happens in its translation to the market? There are real good research results that are sold for 10,000 Euros, which if put in value could be sold for 1,000,000 Euros. And the University knows it.
- On the other hand in the business, especially SMEs, there aren’t qualified partners to understand what academic research has developed. There are not enough doctors in SMEs. No intermediate structures to support research.