CIC has achieved the expected results in terms
of the Strategic Objective of the ICE Call (OE2): “to strengthen the singularity
and specialisation of campuses, so that they become a part of a diversified
Spanish map, based on the corresponding strengths”.
Thus, most of the effort in SCIENTIFIC IMPROVEMENT has
focused on implementing the original model defined for the 6 Strategic Areas.
All of them have made progress towards the model defined by the Viability and Conversion Plan of the ICE, contributing to the strategic objective of the 2009 Call: "To enhance the level of research and its international recognition through an improvement in research infrastructure impacting on pedagogical and scientific development" (OE2).
Within this context, one of the clearest examples of the importance of the Strategic Areas is their contribution to the global budget of the UC, estimated within the scope of the regional government's Research and Innovation Plan for the Smart Specialisation Strategy of Cantabria. These are associated to the strategic lines of the Plan, and are fundamental in responding to the social challenges and the needs for industrial leadership identified in Horizon 2020. Three examples of this role are as follows: it is estimated that the Water and Energy Area raises an average of 6.23M€ annually, contributing 20% of the UC budget; the Biomedicine and Biotechnology Area raises an annual average of 3.37M€, representing a direct contribution of 11% to the R&D budget of the UC (not including the funds raised by IDIVAL as part of aggregation); and finally, the Technology Area, which obtains an average of 5.27M€ annually, some 17% of the total R&D budget of the UC.
The Area of SCIENTIFIC IMPROVEMENT (B), in addition to promoting the Strategic Areas of the CIC, encompasses actions to improve the available research equipment and infrastructure, recruit international research talent, analyse and reinforce research capacities and to develop instruments for consulting, support and promotion of scientific research.
Within a context of intense international competition, the UC conducted a detailed analysis of its scientific-technical capacities, between 2012 and 2014. Based on this analysis, a methodology was established to reorient and enhance the research capacities of existing research groups (154 in 2014) and to promote their technology transfer and fundraising abilities. This will be applied during the course of the 2014/2015 academic year.
Another achievement of the CIC has been to encourage the recruitment of international talent, principally through the AGL programme. This has led to the creation of 6 new lines of research, the incorporation of 5 main researchers (IP), (5 doctorate and 3 pre-doctorate), in coordination with CIC aggregates which have provided over 1.5M€ in financing in addition to the 400,000 euros obtained through the ICE call. Most of these lines have produced outstanding scientific research and taken great strides in the internationalisation of the UC.
The AGL initiative has also led to the organisation of 8 short stays by professors of international prestige in the Area of Banking, Finance and Entrepreneurial Activity, a format developed in the Language and Cultural Heritage Area through the Comillas Chair, arranging 5 stays.
The objectives of the CIC were exceeded with the contracting of 36 researchers of excellence, as in addition to the 13 researchers of the AGL programme there are 23 additional researchers of excellence associated to the UC through the high competitive Ramón y Cajal (RyJ) and Juan de la Cierva (JdC) programmes (13 and 10 researchers respectively). The talent of this international team of young researchers is reflected by the fact that three of them, associated to CIC areas, were finalists in the call for ERC grants (starting) in 2013. One of these in the area of Biomedicine, also in 2014. In the Physics Area a researcher has been recruited through a European Marie Curie grant (PEOPLE EU FP7 Programme).
Significant advances have been made in the collaboration between the various disciplines of the strategic areas of the CIC, intercampus collaboration. A number of projects have been undertaken although fewer than the forecasted 10 projects per year. In this context, notable opportunities for collaboration are provided by the Altamira Supercomputer, or aggregation favouring large-scale projects implemented by IH Cantabria. In this context, new interdisciplinary research groups have been created in Nanomedicine, Genomics and Bioinformatics, among others.
The infrastructure for scientific research and technology transfer developed during the period 2009-2014 has supposed an additional 28,380 m2 of space. This is in addition to the new facilities for IDIVAL (2,500 m2).
The UC has made great efforts to maintain the level of investment in scientific equipment, despite financing difficulties. In addition to the 4M€ obtained from the INNOCAMPUS call in 2010, some 1M€ was also invested in high value technological equipment, co-financed through FEDER funds.
For KNOWLEDGE TRANSFER, the third mission of the university, the work of providing dynamism, consulting and management carried out by the Office of Research Transfer (OTRI) has produced an increase of 8.33% in the number of contracts with companies from 2008 to 2013.
With the reinforcement of the 4 research institutes of the UC, the creation of 5 Centres of Research Excellence and Transfer (CEITs) stands out. These are the corollary of the Strategic Areas: CITAP, CiCiS, SANFI, CISE and the Santander Supercomputing Service, in which the aggregates have played a crucial role (B2.5).
The Technical Scientific Services (SCTIs) of the UC have been improved. They provide high value technological equipment, testing and services, including since 2014 the Hydrobiology Laboratory Service and the expansion of the Animal Housing and Experimentation Service. The SCTIs (7 at present) have worked with more than 30 companies between 2009 and 2014, duplicating the objectives of the CIC, and exceeding the goal of 100 services provided per year.
Although the goal of certifying 20 laboratories was not achieved, it is significant that 5 laboratories have received their ISO 17025 certification from the Spanish Certification Entity (ENAC) for specific testing, with 2 more in the process of certification, thus making their services available to society.
CIC has fostered the creation of high tech companies (EBTs) and promoted spaces such as the Technological Development Centre of the UC (CDTUC). This center has increased by 76% the number of companies installed (more than half of which are spin-offs of the UC) and with a 16% increase in staff, often with the participation of UC research groups. The goal of the CDTUC of doubling the number of companies located in it was achieved by the aggregation, favoured by the creation of the new incubator by a CIC partner, despite the adverse economic climate which has hindered business development.
The Leonardo Torres Quevedo Foundation (FLTQ), in addition to managing the CDTUC, has consolidated its role as an indispensable interlocutor, establishing 393 contacts with companies during the period 2009 – 2014, resulting in 51 contracts. In 2010 it was also responsible for cataloguing the R&D capabilities of UC research groups with potential industrial application.
In terms of "commercialization" of research results, in 2010 the UC also created its own Valorisarion Office, complying with established objectives. Through this office, 47 patents were granted out of 57 applications (in 29 cases international patents were applied for). Seven of these are currently being commercialised through Univalue, a company created the same year by universities of the G9 for the professional management of the results of university research (and in which the UC has 12.5% stake).
In 2011, the CIC also promoted the creation of the Renewable Energies Cluster, following the significant advances made in two other clusters: the ICT Cluster and the Biotechnology Cluster.
As part of the specific effort to strengthen relationships with companies, the UC-Empresas Forum was created in February 2013, an initiative with the participation of over 130 entities and a similar number of professors and researchers. After one year of activity and 9 meetings of mixed groups, a bidirectional communication channel has been formally established.
In recognition of its efforts to promote technology transfer, the UC, through FLTQ, received the University-Company Award for 2014 of the FUE Network for its close collaboration with the private sector.