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A group of experts, including Montse Daban, the Scientific and International Relations Director at Biocat, analyzed the lessons learned and challenges posed by the pandemic in Catalonia. Research and innovation stand out as one of the main drivers for Catalan socioeconomic reconstruction.
Catalonia takes stock and analyzes the challenges arising from the impact of Covid-19 a year and a half after its outbreak during the Economic Note 106, 'The social and economic effects of Covid-19', a monograph where different experts share their diagnosis and make public policy proposals to face the challenges that the pandemic has left us. The Note includes 15 articles divided into four blocks: the macroeconomic impact and the economic policy response; the repercussions on the public sector; the social impact; and the implications of the pandemic on the productive fabric and the labor market.
Biocat has authored the last article, with a review of the response of the Catalan healthcare research and innovation system to Covid-19 and an approach on how to maximize the impact of Catalonia's technologies and capabilities. Biocat's Scientific and International Relations Director, Montse Daban, co-author of the article, participated in the presentation of the Note this morning, along with Gemma Garcia, professor of Applied Economics at the University of Barcelona and researcher at the Barcelona Institute of Economics; Joan Maria Mussons, head of the economic situation at the Directorate General for Economic Analysis and Foresight; and Marta Curto Grau, director-general of the General Directorate of Economic Analysis, who directed the publication and chaired the panel discussion.
During the presentation, the Minister of Economy and Finance of the Government of Catalonia, Jaume Giró, highlighted the role played by the Catalan healthcare system in dealing with the pandemic and emphasized the importance of research for economic and social reconstruction. "To face the global challenges in the coming years, we can be sure that the solution will be through research, innovation and technology".
Montse Daban, representative of Biocat, highlighted international collaboration in research as a key factor to face scientific advances during Covid-19 and, according to her, "joint work and communication between countries has increased considerably in recent months". However, and referring to recent studies, she added that this global cooperation may start to slow down, especially after the vaccine has been obtained and due to the impetus of open science. Daban also highlighted the gender inequality in the publication of scientific papers during the pandemic. As the expert explained, "the number of female first authors has decreased during the last few months, very possibly due to other burdens and responsibilities".
Joan Maria Mussons reviewed macroeconomic indicators and growth estimates that are currently defined with great uncertainty and that depend on the evolution of three factors: labor, capital and productivity. Among these uncertainties are the possibility of structural unemployment and the decrease in the migratory flow. The expert also highlighted the low investment in Catalonia in relation to other European countries or the low productivity of capital, which is explained by the investment patterns behind us and the low investment in research. He points to the European Next Generation EU Funds and the structural funds as an opportunity for recovery.
Gemma Garcia addressed the impact of Covid-19 from the point of view of the labor market and the challenges that emerge, particularly with regard to young people. She highlighted ERTEs as one of the lessons learned from the pandemic that has served to maintain moderate unemployment rates: "ERTEs are here to stay, and among others could serve to incentivize hiring. However, they must be understood as a transitory measure, which can never serve to lengthen unsustainable companies. It is necessary to mirror the German model." The specialist also made a commitment to internal flexibility (salary and schedule reduction), the benefits of teleworking on productivity, and, above all, emphasized the need for training at all levels and for both groups: unemployed people (re-skilling) and young people (promotion of STEM and soft skills that provide transversal competencies to prepare them for the digitalized and automated world of the future (and of the present).
The Secretary for Economic Affairs and European Funds of the Government of Catalonia, Matilde Villarroya, concluded the event with the hope placed in the Next Generation EU funds to rebuild Catalonia. "This scheme of recovery and resilience driven by the Covid-19 should allow us to stimulate innovation and increase investment to revive the Catalan economy," she explained. These aids still raise many doubts and uncertainties and, for this reason, Biocat, together with other collaborators, is organizing a session on October 6 where innovative companies and startups from the BioRegion will be able to answer any questions they may have.
If you were unable to follow the session live, you can watch it on the Department of Economy and Finance of the Government of Catalonia's YouTube channel.