Innovation and social impact in the first UIC Barcelona Research Fest

This new initiative was established as a meeting point to share the strategic lines of research carried out by the scientific community of the University, and to reflect on the present and future of research and its social impact

Research Fest, promoted by the Vice-Rectorate for Research, Innovation and Knowledge Transfer of the University, brought together some 300 researchers from different areas of knowledge, as well as students from the Doctoral School and representatives from the business world. In the words of Conrado Aparicio, vice-rector of Research, Innovation and Knowledge Transfer at UIC Barcelona, “research is one of the fundamental pillars of our University and, aware of the great impact it has on society, we wanted to highlight our scientific community and the work it does, as well as the companies that make research and knowledge transfer possible thanks to their collaboration.” 

The first edition of Research Fest, led by Laura Rubio, was attended by Francesc Subirada, director of the UPF Ciutadella of Knowledge project, who gave a presentation on “The impact of research and innovation through transformative projects”. In his speech, Subirada highlighted the importance of the “innovation and research binomial” for science to generate a real impact on society: “research without innovation makes no sense, nor does excellence without relevance. Everything should be developed with real impact in mind,” he insisted. The opening speaker of Research Fest congratulated UIC Barcelona for this initiative, “which highlights the true social impact of research and transfer”.

The programme continued with two round tables that brought together experts from the biotechnology sector as well as researchers from different areas of knowledge of UIC Barcelona.

The first round table was opened by Vice-Rector Conrado Aparicio, who shared the two strategic areas of research of the University, focused on “health and comprehensive care” and on “people and social innovation”, two macro areas that, as explained by the Vice-Rector, they embrace and accommodate many other multidisciplinary strategic lines. Together with the Vice-Rector of Research, Rosalía Rodriguez, researcher and Director of the Degree in Biomedical Sciences, and Xavier Escribano, lecturer of the Faculty of Humanities, also participated in the round table that was moderated by Òscar Carbó, director of the Centre for Knowledge Transfer and Research Valorisation (CTC-VR) of the University.

The round table titled “Socioeconomic impact of research” was then held, moderated by the Director of the Observatory of Artificial Intelligence and New Technologies of the University, Pere Buhigas, expert in scientific communication. Ignasi Belda, an entrepreneur and lecturer in the bachelor’s degree in Biomedical Sciences and the Faculty of Dentistry at UIC Barcelona, and Teresa Sanchis, Head of Strategy at IBEC – Institute for Bioengineering of Catalonia and Executive Coordinator of the Spanish Platform for Nanomedicine, also participated in the round table. The two experts discussed the role of artificial intelligence in research, especially in the field of health, as well as the importance of fostering public-private collaboration from the outset to achieve a positive impact on society.

In the afternoon, the “Present your thesis in 4 minutes” contest was held, in which a total of 6 theses from the four doctoral programmes taught at the UIC Barcelona Doctoral School were presented. The first prize of the jury, and also of the audience, went to Mireia Bayna, PhD student of the doctorate of Health Sciences for her thesis “Planning in advance for dignified care”, and who will represent UIC Barcelona in the final of the contest to be held by the Catalan Foundation for Research on 27 June.

Throughout the day, there was an exhibition of scientific posters on the Passeig de la Fontana of the University, and the conference also hosted a scientific communication workshop run by the company Big Van Ciència. At the end of the conference, the best articles of the year published by lecturers of the University in each of the four areas of knowledge of the University were given awards: ‘Health Sciences’, ‘Architecture’, ‘Economics and Law’, ‘Communication, Education and Humanities’.

ThankUDay then took place, an annual event in which UIC Barcelona thanks the institutions and companies for their contribution and strategic support to the research and transfer carried out by the University. Some 135 organisations participated in the event this year, which gathered about 300 attendees in the Aula Magna. At the end of the day, three collaborating companies were given awards: Banco Santander, for promoting talent; Klockner, for promoting research; and the Roviralta Foundation, for ensuring the care of people. The awards were presented by the President of the University Advisory Council Mr Francesc Homs, accompanied by the President of the Board of Trustees Mr Miguel Ángel Cazcarra, and the Rector of UIC Barcelona Dr Alfonso Méndiz. 

The event was closed by the Rector, who highlighted “interdisciplinarity, impact and focused research” as pillars of the University’s research, “with international scope”. 

The first edition of the Research Fest has contributed to highlighting UIC Barcelona’s commitment to innovation, research and transfer to society. Currently, the University has about 100 ongoing competitive projects, 24 research groups, 16 company chairs, five business classrooms, five research institutes and three university clinics, as well as 12 patent families in progress.

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