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Biocat’s leaders met with various Catalan MEP’s yesterday in Brussels to present their candidate project, spearheaded by Catalonia, for the upcoming open call for Knowledge and Innovation Communities (KICs), held by the European Institute of Innovation & Technology (EIT). Manel Balcells, president of Biocat’s Executive Committee, and Montserrat Vendrell, CEO of the organization, underscored Catalonia’s capacities in health & life sciences to the political representatives, explaining the projects that Biocat is undertaking, in areas such as training and tech transfer, to strengthen the potential of the Catalan candidacy and the alliances being formed to assemble a winning KIC.

The Biocat team also highlighted the value of a strategic project of this scope for Catalonia and emphasized the importance of the decisions the EIT will be making in the following months. “The European Parliament will have to approve its first Strategic Innovation Agenda (SIA) and approve the subject areas for future KIC open calls, which is why this is a crucial moment for us to combine forces in a KIC candidacy led by Biocat”, affirmed Manel Balcells.

“Healthcare is one of the major challenges facing Europe, and innovation in this area is key to the sustainability of the system in light of an ageing population. Catalonia is a leader in biomedicine and medical technology, both in research and training as well as through innovative companies. Europe must decide on a health & life sciences KIC and Catalonia must play a leading role in it”, underscored Balcells, speaking to the audience of MEPs.

The meeting, coordinated by the Catalan Government delegation to Brussels and by the Secretary of the European Union, was also attended by Ramon Tremosa (CiU), Raimon Obiols (PSC) and Oriol Junqueras (ERC), who demonstrated strong interest in the strategic value of the EIT KIC initiative for Catalonia.

Balcells and Vendrell also met with Milagros Candela and with Estanislau Vidal-Folch, delegates of the Spanish Permanent Representation to the European Union (REPER). The candidate project promoted by Biocat entails explicit participation of the Spanish government, which considers the EIT an invaluable driving force for the innovation that Europe needs to improve its global competitiveness. All Biocat activities inside this project have the support of Ciemat (MICINN).

The EIT: research, higher education, and innovation

In 2007 the European Commission created the EIT as an instrument to stimulate European competitiveness and leadership in innovation to enable Europe to face its main competitors: the USA, Canada and Japan. The EIT is the first European initiative to integrate all three components of the Knowledge Triangle: research, higher education, and innovation.

The EIT fosters competitiveness by creating transnational consortia among European members capable of transforming knowledge into products and services with strong social and economic impact, through a range of actions in higher education. These public and private sector collaborations are known as Knowledge and Innovation Communities (KICs).

To date, the EIT has chosen three KICs, in the areas of sustainable energy, climate change, and the Information Society. The Sustainable Energy KIC includes a node in Barcelona, in which ESADE, the Technical University of Catalonia (UPC) and various Catalan companies participate. Each KIC draws annual investments of roughly €100 million, 25% of which is provided by the EIT itself.

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