What do we do?

At ICN2 we are convinced that nanoscience and nanotechnology will have an even more outstanding impact in the coming years. We want to be influential and participate in leading this impact, by producing excellent science, proposing innovative solutions to global challenges based on scientific knowledge, and engaging with society in a dialogue about the benefits and also potential risks of the new technological advances. We wish to be able to provide collaboration and expert advice to public and private institutions, and to be an actor that facilitates the adoption of the newly generated knowledge by the industry, the health sector, and the society at large.

We also aim to achieve it with high standards of equality and diversity, attention to detail in every step of the research career and to provide the best possible work environment to ensure the safety and wellbeing of the members of the ICN2 community. As you will find out in this report, all this is possible thanks to the expertise of the research and administration structures which combine their efforts within ICN2.

Nanoscience and nanotechnology take an extremely close look at the world around us. Understanding and learning to control the sometimes unexpected behaviour of matter at this tiny scale has implications for all other sciences. ICN2 brings together chemists, physicists, biologists, materials scientists and engineers to discover and explore uncharted corners of the nanoworld, and work out how to turn the gained knowledge into life- and world- improving applications. Our researchers tackle this challenge from every side, with teams working on everything from the discovery, simulation, visualisation and experimental exploration of the properties and behaviours of materials at the nanoscale, to the design and fabrication of devices that take advantage of their unique characteristics.

Research is at the core of our reason to be, and thus it is explored with plenty of detail in other sections of this document. In this introduction we would like to focus on other aspects of our everyday activity that allow us to reach the desired levels of excellence.

Culture of entrepreneurship

The institute is fully committed to making real contributions to industry and society. This commitment is reflected in the institutional organisation, with a dedicated Business and Innovation Office, as well as in the training offered to the ICN2 researchers and in the entrepreneurial spirit of the research community. For this reason, ICN2 leads the way of technology transfer with a vigorous innovation program, four products already in the market and 12 spin-off companies.

The ICN2 Business and Innovation Office creates opportunities and supports the ICN2 researchers in their contacts with industrial partners, knowledge protection and transference processes. Together with the Human Resources Department, its culture of innovation and entrepreneurship is spread all over the institution through a training plan that aims to prepare our researchers for the more diverse and imaginative public-private research collaborations of the future.

Equal opportunities

ICN2 declares its commitment to the establishment and development of policies that integrate equal treatment and opportunities, as well as the management of diversity in all areas, without directly or indirectly discriminating the difference, whether due to gender, religion, culture or other potentially discriminatory conditions. The institute is also committed to the promotion of measures to achieve real equality within our organization, establishing equal opportunities as a strategic principle of our Corporate and Human Resources policies.

In each and every one of the Human Resources policies and practices, such as selection, training, promotion, compensation, balancing of personal, family and work life, occupational risks and occupational health, we assume the principle of equal opportunities between women and men, as well as people of different cultures, nationalities, religions or other differential traits. Likewise, in relation to harassment, sexual harassment and harassment based on sex or gender, we are strongly committed to promote the working conditions necessary to avoid such situations, establish procedures for their prevention and respond to complaints or claims.

The principles set forth are implemented through the Equality of Opportunities and Diversity Management Plan, which guarantees and materializes our organization's commitment to equal opportunities and prevents any type of discrimination. The ICN2 Equal Opportunities Committee supports and follows up the actions defined in the plan.

Fostering talent

The ICN2 prides itself on being able to attract talented scientists, technicians and support personnel from around the world. Once at the institute, researchers can opt into the many training and professional development programmes available.

Its scientists are active participants in the regional, national and international research scenes. Many of those who complete their PhD or postdoctoral research at the ICN2 move on to pursue their passion at centres the likes of Harvard University, Yale University, the Max Planck institutes, the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS) and the French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission (CEA). This in turn means that the ICN2 is able to keep on offering new positions to future nanoscientists.

Over the course of 2020 it had an average workforce of 299,52 members.

2020 Total no. of full-time equivalents 31/12/2020 Total no. of persons 31/12/2020 Women
Number %
Total 299,52 306 133 43,46%
1. Academic staff 182,36 182 66 36,26%
Group leader senior 16,17 17 3 17,65%
Group leader junior 1 1 0,00%
Staff Scientists 14,64 15 6 40,00%
Postdoctoral 52,38 53 16 30,19%
Predoctoral 52,14 54 22 40,74%
Others 46,03 42 19 45,24%
2. Non-academic staff 117,16 124 67 54,03%
Administration 43,15 45 34 75,56%
Core scientific platforms 14 14 3 21,43%
Laboratory support 17,56 26 12 46,15%
IT staff 3,95 4 0,00%
Others 38,47 35 18 51,43%
TOTAL 299,52 306 133 43,46%

PhD Programme

The ICN2 PhD Programme is an institutional commitment to training excellence. It stands in addition to the challenges and guidance received from research groups and allows PhD students to benefit from the collective vision of the ICN2 as a whole.

Each year an internal committee advises the participants to the programme on important formative experiences, like conference attendance, transferable skills, exposure and publication record. Participants follow a training calendar designed to support their development at each stage of the PhD. Project planning, lab techniques and scientific writing are some of the covered subjects. Participants also attend regular scientific seminars by leaders in their field, participate in international conferences and workshops, and have opportunities for academic and industry placements at local and international partner institutions. Meanwhile, the ICN2 Mentoring Programme helps to handle other stumbling blocks inherent in the PhD experience and expand the learning process beyond the purely academic.

The ultimate goal is to ensure that the ICN2 PhD students get the most out of their time at the ICN2, and to prepare them for whatever professional path awaits them.

Postdoctoral Training Programme

Under the umbrella of the Severo Ochoa Programme and HRS4R budget, a specific Postdoctoral Training Plan has been designed during 2020 and will start running in 2021. The aim is to have a specific training plan for ICN2 postdocs. Specific activities for Postdocs, R2 and R3 will be included in the Annual Training Plan. These are intended to provide them with tools and improve their professional and personal development.