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Technological innovation in Catalonia boosted as public research centres merge

A major step forward in Catalonia's public research on technology has been made this month, with the official establishing of Eurecat on 1 May. The new integrated hub is a result of the merger of 5 advanced Catalan technology centres in the first phase. Last Wednesday, it incorporated a further 13 companies onto its Board. Eurecat is aimed at boosting technology research and its business applicability, particularly among private SMEs, which represent most of Catalonia's economy. Conceived as an engine for key technologies, it is a tool for implementing the Strategy for the Smart Specialisation of Catalonia (RIS3CAT). The latter was drafted by the Catalan Government following the EU Commission's decision to make 'smart specialisation' a prerequisite for attracting EU funds during the period 2014-2020. By the end of 2020, the centre is expected to have attracted funding from the EC's Horizon 2020 framework and the RIS3 to the tune of €200m.

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15 May 2015 09:54 PM

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ACN

Barcelona (ACN).- A major step forward in Catalonia's public research on technology has been made this month, with the official establishing of Eurecat on 1 May. The new integrated hub is a result of the merger of 5 advanced Catalan technology centres in the first phase: Ascamm, Cetemmsa, Barcelona Digital, Barcelona Media and CTM. On Wednesday, it incorporated a further 13 companies onto its Board, most of them private. Eurecat is aimed at boosting technology research and its business applicability, particularly among private SMEs, which represent most of Catalonia's economy. Conceived as an engine for key technologies, it is a tool for implementing the Strategy for the Smart Specialisation of Catalonia (RIS3CAT). The latter was drafted by the Catalan Government following the EU Commission's decision to make 'smart specialisation' a prerequisite for attract EU funds during the period 2014-2020. By the end of 2020 the centre is expected to have attracted funding from the EC's Horizon 2020 framework and the RIS3 to the tune of €200m.


With the incorporation of the 13 companies, Eurecat has taken a step towards becoming a "state structure" and the main point of reference for industrial innovation in Catalonia, Catalan Minister for Business and Employment, Felip Puig, said.

These 13 companies represent the 7 areas into which the Strategy for the Smart Specialisation of Catalonia (RIS3CAT) is organised. These are: Carinsa Group (food and drink industry); Circuitor and ICL Iberia, Iberpotash (energy and resources); HP and Comexi (industrial systems); Simon and Condor (design-based industries); Sener and Relats (industries related to sustainable mobility); Hipra and Reig Jofré (health industries and life sciences); Digital Legends and the Catalan Public Broadcasting Corporation (cultural and experience-based industries).

Eurecat resulted from the initial merger of 5 existing technology centres in Barcelona Province

Eurecat resulted from the initial merger of 5 advanced technology centres, all located in the Province of Barcelona: Ascamm (in Cerdanyola), Cetemmsa (in Mataró), Barcelona Digital and Barcelona Media (in the Catalan capital) and CTM (in Manresa). Currently, they provide services to more than a thousand companies.

A sixth centre called LEITAT - based in Terrassa, Barcelona Province - should be also incorporated in the next two months. However, given its large size, the process of its integration within the new hub is slow and has been delayed, as sources from Eurecat explained.

The first phase of the integration process officially closed on 1 May, with the formal constitution of the new integrated hub. As a purely formal matter, CTM will keep its legal identity while the name of the other 4 technology centres will be replaced.

The 6 centres have between them 700 workers and the merger will ensure continuity of employment and activity in each of them where they are currently located. After the integration process is concluded, the Board will assess whether other technology centres could be incorporated into Eurecat.

Eurecat's aim is to double the penetration of technological innovation in Catalonia

The merger of these six major technology centres is expected to double their joint turnover, which in 2014 stood at €50 million. According to the Catalan Minister for Business and Employment, this will be made possible by "doubling, tripling and quadrupling" the penetration of technological innovation within small and medium-sized Catalan enterprises (SMEs). By 2016, the Catalan government will have supported this integration process with €45 million: €10 million in 2014, €15 million in 2015 and €20 million in 2016.

Eurecat's aim is to provide companies and particularly SMEs with differential technology and advanced knowledge to solve their needs for innovation and boost their competitiveness. For SMEs, implementing certain technological improvements and innovations would be too expensive if they had to do it on their own. Instead, outsourcing this task to an innovation technology centre allows them to save money. The Catalan Government introduced last year specific vouchers, allowing SMEs to obtain funding that covers up to 50% of Eurecat's invoices.

The integration process is conceived as long-term investment for Catalonia, responding to the need to build capacity in industrial research and technology services and regain a leading position in innovation. Moreover, it can serve as a driver to develop key technologies that can be used to underpin the Catalan Government's Smart Specialisation of Catalonia (RIS3CAT) strategy, which in turn should attract EU funding.

According to the Catalan Ministry for Business and Employment, through the merger the 5 technology centres will increase their skills, gain critical mass, improve what they can offer and generate more business. By 2016, Eurecat is expected to be securely established, ranking as a benchmark for industrial innovation in Catalonia and enhancing its internal technology transfer.

The decision to create Eurecat was taken up again in 2014

At the end of August 2010, the Catalan Executive, announced its intention for the six centres to merge, but the plan was sidelined due to the economic crisis, budget cuts in the public sector and a change of government. In 2014, the decision was taken up once again.

The roadmap for the integration was then drawn up, involving a two-stage process. In the first phase, the Foundation Alira (the organisation that will eventually become the single centre) would absorb 4 technology centres (ASCAMM, Barcelona Digital Centre Tecnològic, CETEMMSA and Barcelona Media). In the second phase, it would integrate the two remaining centres, CTM and LEITAT (the latter is still not formally incorporated due to delays). The transition should be completed in 2016.

At the end of January 2015, the Catalan Government authorised its representatives in the boards of the six centres and Foundation Alira to adopt the agreements for integration. Moreover, it entrusted ACCIÓ - the Agency for Business Innovation and Internationalisation of the Catalan Ministry for Business and Employment - to promote this process. In February 2015, the Board approved the merger and the organisational charter of the new centre, including an Executive Vice President (Xavier Torra) and a CEO.

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  • ctm_manresa

  • The CTM's headquarters in Manresa (by ACN)