BIST Forum, a meeting to highlight the value of frontier research

The BIST Forum has discussed how excellent science enhances the development of society and economic growth. The event was attended by the President of the Catalan Government, the Mayor of Barcelona, the heads of the highest economic institutions and the rectors of the main universities. At the event, the new BIST IGNITE projects for multidisciplinary research were announced, three of which have the participation of IBEC.

Researchers from the BIST community who have recently received ERC grants from the President of the Catalan Government and the Minister of Research and Universities. Among them, IBEC researchers Pere Roca-Cusachs, Bendetta Bolgnesi and Giuseppe Battaglia. / Credit: Albert Mollón-BIST

The BIST scientific community, made up of seven major Catalan research centres – CRG, IBEC, ICFO, ICIQ, ICN2, IFAE  , and IRB Barcelona – held the BIST Forum today in the auditorium of La Pedrera. This year, this annual meeting dealt with the three main areas to which frontier research carried out in Catalonia contributes: the expansion of knowledge, the change of the production model and the development of society. The President of the Catalan Government, Pere Aragonès, inaugurated the Forum, which brought together two hundred people from the scientific, political, economic and social worlds. Among them, the rectors of the universities UB, UAB, UPC and UPF, and heads of the Barcelona Chamber of Commerce, the Círculo de Economía, Fomento del Trabajo and Barcelona Global. President Aragonès noted that “we have one of the most powerful research ecosystems, with the most potential in southern Europe” and the BIST community “is one of the clearest examples”.

In the same way, the different sessions of the meeting have emphasized the exceptional nature of the scientific production capacity of Catalonia, which in two decades has reached positions of European leadership, and the potential to be the main source of the industry of the 21st century. The President of the Catalan Government reaffirmed Catalonia’s commitment to becoming a knowledge-based economy and praised the Catalan research system’s capacity to generate excellent science.

In this sense, three success stories of start-ups from the BIST community awarded with the National Innovation Research Award were shown at the event.

The Forum also celebrated the ability of the scientific community to attract ERC Grants, the most prestigious call for research projects in Europe. Catalonia attracts half of the ERC grants received in Spain and has more per population than Germany or France. The BIST community, in particular, accounts for 24% of the CKDs received in Catalonia.

The keynote speech was given by Prof. Núria Montserrat, ICREA researcher at IBEC and member of the Council for Research and Innovation of Catalonia, who discussed how frontier research transforms people’s living conditions, the well-being of society and the sustainability of the planet.

Prof. Núria Montserrat, during the main conference. / Credit: Albert Ribagorçanan-BIST

The BIST Forum has culminated with the announcement of five new multidisciplinary research projects between groups of the BIST community within the framework of the BIST Ignite programme, of which three have the participation of IBEC:

  • TriBioNics: a collaboration between ICN2 researcher Elena del Corro and IBEC researcher Samuel Sánchez Ordónez that combine for the first time three innovative technologies, 3D skeletal muscle printing, graphene bioelectronics and triboeletricity. The goal is to model skeletal muscle and, among other things, to develop new therapies for rehabilitation.
  • bRaiNA: led by IBEC postdoctoral researcher Daniel Gonzalez-Carter, and CRG researcher Fátima Gebauer. The project will combine expertise in the biology of vascular cells in the brain of the former, and in microRNA technologies of the latter, with the aim of finding new treatments for brain pathologies.
  • DendriPhotoSomes: a collaborative project between ICREA professors Pablo Ballester, at ICIQ, and César Rodríguez-Emmenegger, at IBEC. They seek to generate artificial membranes, with the aim of converting and storing solar energy, making use of artificial photosynthesis.
Researchers from the BIST community leading the new BIST Ignite collaborative research projects with the Mayor of Barcelona and the President of the BIST Board of Trustees, Andreu Mas-Colell. Among them, IBEC researchers César Rodríguez-Emmenegger, Daniel Gonzalez-Carter and María Crespo Cuadrado / Credit: Albert Ribagorçanan-BIST

The BIST Ignite multidisciplinary research programme is supported by Barcelona City Council, and it was the Mayor Jaume Collboni who closed the Forum. Colllboni, who defended Barcelona’s vocation as European Capital of Science, stressed “the importance of people being aware of what frontier research contributes and the social return it has, as well as the need to guarantee stable frameworks and funding so that it bears fruit”.