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Dr. Ramon Maspons

director of the EIT-KIC Project Office *

Industrial engineer specializing in competitive intelligence applied to the biomedical sector and assistant Secretary for Strategy at the Government of Catalonia’s Department of Health, he is currently leading Catalonia’s bid to be the Life-Sciences Community of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT), under the umbrella of Biocat.

What is the EIT and what is its governing structure?

The EIT is a new EC initiative that is to be a key driver of Europe’s economic competitiveness and growth, integrating the knowledge triangle (higher-education, research and business innovation) and developing innovation skills. The EIT will put new instruments into action that focus on boosting networking and cooperation, the first of which will be the Knowledge and Innovation Communities, or KICs.

Can a wall-less innovation center be competitive enough to play in the big leagues with countries like the USA or Japan?

In fact, this is the EIT’s main challenge: capitalizing on Europe’s innovation potential by adopting new methods of collaboration among research, education and innovation, working towards Europe’s long-term goals and identifying new opportunities to innovate, especially in trans- and interdisciplinary fields.

Why do you think the EIT could be a good opportunity for Catalonia?

If European competitiveness will focus on the EIT and the knowledge triangle (higher-education, research and business innovation), and in Catalonia we already have an excellent foundation in all three of these elements, it isn’t too big a leap to say that this is a unique opportunity to take advantage of our assets. The KICs will be the most competitive networks in Europe; they will become world leaders in their fields and receive important funding, becoming a model to follow.

It is clear that the EIT can help develop the knowledge economy in our country, but what are our chances, as a cluster, of leading the life-sciences network?

The Catalan cluster meets nearly all of the requirements the EIT has established for the centers of the KIC networks. We have nearly all the elements that make up the innovation chain in biomedicine. The proposals will be evaluated not only on the quality of the different centers and the requirements they meet, but also on their ability to develop cutting-edge collaborative actions, especially those related to education and entrepreneurialism.

The EIT is based on alliances inside our country and abroad. What is the projection of our proposal in this area?

The fact that we bring together all the different elements of the innovation chain makes us a very interesting partner. This is why we want to coordinate the bid. We are currently selecting partners and designing the proposal.

Which sectors will benefit most?

More than sectors, we should talk about stakeholders. The project will directly benefit companies -both SMEs and large corporations-, research centers, hospitals, universities, entrepreneurs, the public sector... We’re talking about networks that are more competitive and lead activity on a European level. That means attracting talent, knowledge-oriented projects and new training opportunities and investments.

The universities will play a key role. How does the current university system fit into this project, on a European level?

Universities are one of the key agents. It’s not so much about how the current system fits in, but about which instruments we are able to set in motion from the different centers in order to allow ideas and projects to flow from education, research and innovation centers to a business context and to commercial applications.

What is the expected timeframe and funding for the EIT’s life-sciences knowledge and innovation community?

There isn’t an approved timeline for the life-sciences knowledge and innovation community. The information we have right now estimates that the call for proposals will be held sometime mid-2010, which is enough time to draw up an excellent proposal.

* Actually, Biocat's Unit of Strategic Projects.

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