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Six Catalan technical research centers join forces

30 Jun 2015

New Barcelona Institute of Science & Technology to pursue joint projects in photonics, nano, high-energy physics and biochemistry.

Six of the leading research centers in Catalonia, Spain, have integrated their previous collaborations into a new research organization called The Barcelona Institute of Science and Technology.

The centers involved are: the Institute of Photonic Sciences; the Catalan Institute for Nanoscience & Nanotechnology; the High Energy Physics Institute; the Centre for Genomic Regulation; the Institute of Chemical Research of Catalonia; and the Institute for Research in Biomedicine.

The Barcelona Institute is a new scientific initiative which is intended to foster interdisciplinary research and to position itself among the leading European high-tech research and development institutions. At the end of June, the Board of Trustees of the Barcelona Institute, convened for the first time in Barcelona, chaired by Prof. Rolf Tarrach, with Jaume Giró, CEO of la Caixa Foundation as Vice-Chairman.

Following the model of renowned international centers such as Caltech in California and the Weizmann Institute in Israel, the Barcelona Institute of Science and Technology stated it is aiming to be “an initiative promoted by the directors of the six centers, which together form the Institute, as well as five preeminent international scientists”.

Professor Rolf Tarrach, chair of the Barcelona Institute, commented, “It is time for the Catalan research community to move forward by consolidating the collaboration between these centers jointly operating in this new institution, which will allow us to launch more transversal scientific projects and to achieve greater international competitiveness.”

Movers and shakers

Professor Tarrach also chairs the European University Association (EUA). Other Barcelona Institute board trustees include Profs. Joan Massagué (Sloan Kettering Institute), Ignacio Cirac (Max Planck Institute), Miquel Salmeron (UC Berkeley) and Sergi Verdú (Princeton University).

The six research centers that comprise the Barcelona Institute will continue their own individual activities while simultaneously participating in the joint undertakings that are expected to “boost their individual potential”, the Institute stated.

The Barcelona Institute’s launch statement says the organization now ranks as the fourth European institute in terms of the number of European Research Council grants received on the basis of number of researchers; the six centers were collectively awarded 49 ERC grants between 2007 and 2014, more than 1% of the total in Europe. “With respect to the publication index, the centers that together form the Barcelona Institute published 144 articles in Nature and Science journals between 2008 and 2012.

Work starts in autumn 2015

The Barcelona Institute will start its combined activities in September 2015 with a director who will be appointed “in the coming weeks”, who will be responsible for promoting three major lines of work, which will encompass:

  • The development of combined research from diverse disciplines and shared infrastructures
  • The development of a joint technology and knowledge transfer strategy, and
  • The launching of joint international multidisciplinary graduate programs.

About the Author

Matthew Peach is a contributing editor tooptics.org.

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