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In 2005, the City Council and University of Lleida (UdL) took an important step on behalf of the city, creating the Lleida Agrifood Science and Technology Park. Five years later, the Park has become the agrifood innovation hub of Catalonia, with more than 30,000 square meters of surface space and 25,000 square meters currently in development. The Park houses more than 50 companies, organizations and research groups, which employ more than 1,000 workers. It also has the biggest university campus in the country specializing in agrifood.

The City Council and University of Lleida’s driving force behind the Park has “generated vital assets that have increased our research capabilities and the University’s importance, as well as helping boost the area’s competitiveness and provide new services,” explained the vice-president of the Park and dean of the University of Lleida, Joan Viñas.

This fact is allowing the economy of Lleida “to open itself up to new, previously fledgling subsectors, like biotechnology, precision agriculture, materials technology, renewable energy, advanced food production and, significantly, information and communication technology, applied transversally,” explained the Park’s Scientific Director, Santiago Planas.

Over these five years, organizations in the Park have become progressively more involved in the agrifood sector and have created a significant network of companies and organizations that participate in the productive chain, be it supplying materials, technology and services or working in the final stages of commercialization and logistics.

One of the key elements has been the business incubator, which currently houses 28 companies specializing in agrifood engineering, industrial engineering and ICT as well as three spin-offs.

Both entrepreneurs that have begun their activity in start-ups or spin-offs and larger companies that have chosen to establish themselves in the Park enjoy an environment suitable to research and technology development activities. Companies that have been located at the park since they were founded include the Lleida Institute of Technology, the Lleida Control Consortium, the Economic Promotion Consortium and Indra.

“Indra’s presence in the Park has opened up new business opportunities through collaborations we have been able to initiate with organizations in the park itself or from the university, particularly in agrifood R&D&i”, explained Francesc Escoda, manager of Indra Lleida. For example, they are developing projects to apply artificial intelligence to agrifood production using robotics and other elements through collaborations with the Park’s scientific management and other organizations.

Future challenges

Nevertheless, Planas recognizes that the Park must still work on cooperation among companies, institutions and research groups from the University of Lleida by carrying out projects that use transversal technology and act throughout the innovation chain. “Artificial intelligence, robotics, nanoscience and biotechnology will probably be key elements in which collaborative R&D can be applied to the benefit of companies from the agrifood and other sectors, like energy, construction and advanced technological services,” concluded the Park’s Scientific Director.


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