The postive results achieved over the past 10 years from European Research Council calls endorse Catalan Government's science policy. This was the conclusion made by the Generalitat's Secretary of Universities and Research, Arcadi Navarro, during the 2017 CERCA Conference at the Government's Delegationin Brussels.
CERCA, a group gathering 41 top performing Catalan research centres in all scientific disciplines created in 2010 to foster high–level scientific activity, celebrated on Wednesday its annual conference in Brussels to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the European Research Council.
“The ERC grants have been one of the most important instruments used to promote the Catalan research system. Catalan research centers have attracted around 400 million euros in ERC funds, allowing them to be part of the European research elite” said Navarro.
In the opening speech, the representative of the Government of Catalonia to the EU, Amadeu Altafaj, affirmed that these results are especially impressive because ERC calls are open and competition is very high. “Amidst the countries of the European Union, Catalonia appears in second position in number of grants per million inhabitants”, he noted.
Catalonia occupies the fourth position in the European Research Area, which also includes Switzerland and Israel. Both are also placed in front of The Netherlands.
Furthermore, the Catalan research system performance attains very balanced results in the several calls.
According to Secretary of Universities and Research, the excellent results obtained are the outcome of different factors that endorse Catalonia's science. “Consensus has been gathered throughout these years by different Governments. The deployment of a strategy has made it possible to fund people and institutions and foster their participation in programs to attract competitive funds, as it is the case for ERC”, he said.
Navarro assured that the progress of the research system "has resulted in a dramatic improvement of the most important indicators”. For instance:
• Between 2002 and 2015, the percentage of population engaged in research activities has increased by 50%.
• Between 2004 and 2010, the number of authors producing high-impact scientific publications has doubled.
• In the last 20 years, Catalonia has multiplied its attractiveness of European funds by 30, while resources devoted to the EU have increased only by 7.
• The Catalan Research system attracted over €990M in the 7th FP (2007-2013) compared to the €132M obtained in the 5th Framework Program (1998-2002).
The CERCA Conference also analysed the role of the ERC in research and innovation systems, and allowed the sharing of successful experiences in CERCA competition for ERC funding. It also highlighted the coaching program offered by the Catalan Agency for Management of University and Research Grants (AGAUR) to support candidates for ERC grants in all call stages with preparation and evaluation of proposals (briefings, workshops and specific role-play interviews).
CERCA are a group of research centres from Catalonia characterized by a self-management model devoted exclusively to research. CERCA network embodies one of the most important changes in the Catalan system and is a cornerstone of the success of the research carried out in Catalonia.