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The program allows companies to attract talent, collaborate with research centers and obtain financial aid
The Government of Catalonia Secretariat for Universities and Research has launched the fourth edition of the Industrial Doctorates Plan, which is a series of grants to promote collaborative business/academic research by hiring researchers in training (PhD candidates). The program aims to help boost competitiveness and internationalization of Catalan industry, to strengthen instruments to retain local talent and to place PhD students in companies where they can develop R&D&i projects.
The essential element of the plan is the industrial doctorate project, which is a strategic research project in which the student conducts research for their PhD dissertation at a company in collaboration with the university. Companies can take on research personnel in training, which brings them value added in terms of competitiveness and internationalization. Plus, they gain access to equipment and facilities at universities and highly specialized research centers, as well as financial aid and tax breaks.
The Government of Catalonia supports these projects through two grants depending on the characteristics of the project: co-funding and specific grants. With the first type, the company hires the PhD candidate at a minimum gross salary for 3 years. The Government of Catalonia covers the rest of the expenses associated with research (PhD registration, in-company tutor, funding for research group to carry out the project, etc.). However with the specific funding option, the Government of Catalonia only covers registration fees and a travel stipend for the PhD candidate. The number of projects that receive each type of funding is limited.
Both companies and universities can submit applications using the Oficina Virtual de Tràmits (OVT) through 5 December 2016 (see calendar). Beforehand, a candidate must be chosen and a collaboration agreement signed by the university and the company.
Since the plan originally kicked off in 2013, more than 240 R&D&i projects have been launched in 176 companies, ranging from start-ups to large corporations in all areas (science, engineering, health sciences and humanities, among others). Roughly 40% of these projects are from the health and life sciences sector. Participating companies include Almirall, Esteve, Boeringher, VCN Biosciences, Vetgenomics, AB Biotics, Semillas Fitó and Euvitro.