The commitment to the creation of Catalan research centers ruled by excellence criteria, accountability and autonomous management has contributed to place the quality of research among the leading regions in Europe. However, the high quality standards in research does not turn automatically into market solutions as outcomes. It is found a lack of capacity to generate economic activity. To put it easy, there is still a gap between research and business, and a gap between the indicators of scientific excellence and those related to innovation.
Different policies and instruments are being put in place by the Catalan Government to promote the creation and consolidation of a new ecosystem, knowledge intensive and with high added value, based on the results of the system of science and innovation. The aims are to generate highly skilled jobs and a significant improvement of innovative activities that should be the engine of the Catalan economy in the upcoming years.
In this regard, as seen in previous posts, the RIS3CAT Strategy promotes R&D&I as a driving force for the transformation of the productive fabric, provides for the valorization of knowledge and innovative transfer as one of the basic tools to achieve this goal. In fact, the RIS3CAT Strategy is the basis for, among others, the following initiatives:
- RIS3CAT Communities, promoted by the Agency for the Competitiveness of the Enterprise (ACCIÓ). These are groups of companies, agents of the R&D&I system, clusters organizations and business support entities that drive action plans in the field of research, development and innovation for the economic transformation of activities concerning the productive sectors within the seven leading sectors defined in the RIS3CAT Strategy (food, chemical, energy and resource industries, sustainable mobility, design, cultural, health & life sciences, industrial systems). In this sense, RIS3CAT ommunities aim to promote economic transformation strategies for the aforementioned areas in the medium and long term, starting with the incorporation of R+D+i and the application of the key enabling technologies to the productive activities to generate new scientific, economic and technological opportunities. At the end of October 2016 the call was opened, and it will remain open until 31 January 2017.
- Knowledge Industry Program, promoted by the Secretariat of Universities and Research (SUR). This program fosters the creation and development of new companies as a result of research carried out from universities, research centers, technology centers, hospital foundations and non-profit institutions to create scientifically based spin-offs. The program is structured in three phases: seed (phase I), product (phase II) and market (phase III). Since October the 22, the call for this year remained open for phases I and II until November the 21st.
On the other hand, the Catalan Ministry of Health has recently presented the Health Plan for Research and Innovation in 2016-2020. Its main purpose is to improve citizens’ health by means of knowledge generated through research and applied efficiently to patients. In this sense, the Plan reinforces the role of BIOCAT as a strategic agent and a catalyst for the Catalan ecosystem of innovation in life sciences and health, which integrates companies, entities and research groups, hospitals, universities and administrations.
At the international level, it is worth mentioning the Catalan Government is making in the field of innovation through its participation in important European initiatives such as:
- Participation in the EIT-Health, Knowledge Innovation Community (KIC) of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) specialized in the field of healthy life and active aging. EIT Health has one of the 6 nodes located in Barcelona.
- Participation in KIC InnoEnergy: KIC specialized in the field of sustainable energy. KIC InnoEnergy has one of the 6 nodes in Barcelona.
- Reference Site in the European Innovation Partnership on Active and Healthy Aging (EIP on AHA).
To sum up we can say that, despite of the long way to go in the field of socio-economic valuation of research outcomes, things are going in the right direction. It is a must to overcome what is known as the Valley of Death, the deadlock for many research projects that fail to generate value to society.