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The Catalan Agreement for Research and Innovation (PNRI), with which Catalonia aspires to transform itself into a European reference for research and innovation by 2020, served as the backdrop for the conference After factories, knowledge, held last week in the series of entitled Networks: a journey through Catalonia’s Infrastructure, organized by the Catalan government. This series is part of the Homònima exhibit held since November at Palau Robert (Barcelona).

Representatives of institutions linked to the knowledge sector reflected on Catalonia’s shift into a knowledge society. These included Biocat, an organization that promotes the nationally emerging sector of biotechnology and biomedicine; Technological Circle of Catalonia (CTecno), an agency that strives to consolidate technology in society; and the company Telefónica Catalunya, representing how technological prowess fosters business competitiveness.

Adopting new technologies to become more competitive

Despite recognizing that the investment in science in Catalonia “started a bit late”, Biocat CEO Montserrat Vendrell remains convinced of its potential: “We have an array of elements that make Catalonia a competitive location for generating  wealth in this sector”. Regarding Catalonia’s shift towards a knowledge society, Vendrell reminded the attendees that Catalonia still has several tasks to complete before truly becoming a knowledge society: these include devising a long-term political strategy, creating an attractive pole to capture talent, and fomenting cultural change in companies and universities.

According to CTecno president Carles Flamerich, “technology is a tool for moving forwards”. He emphasized applying technologies to improve infrastructure, services and production. When asked about the need for science and technology parks, Flamerich affirmed his support: “We’ve got to join forces to create unique entities that can defend Catalonia abroad”.

"Companies have to invest in new technologies to gain new clients or advertise”, stated Kim Faura, general director of Telefónica in Catalonia. For Faura, new technologies represent a gateway not only to higher profits, but also to increased competitiveness: “A country that uses new technologies is a more competitive country”. Expanding on this idea, and affirming that industrial cultures can transform through greater technological content in advanced economies, he showed himself to be a realist: “There’s still a lot of work to be done in order to transform our economies”. Faura also highlighted his company’s endeavors in technology, including Catalunya 4.0. This project, planned in collaboration with the Catalan government, aims to accelerate implementation of information and communication technologies (ITC) in Catalonia.

Lastly, Andreu Mas-Colell, secretary general of the European Research Council, was also slated to participate; however, he was unable to attend because of the flight problems caused by the volcanic ash in Europe.   


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