Beyond Research Internationalisation

One of the goals of the 2014-2018 Severo Ochoa programme is to boost the ICN2’s presence and recognition on the international stage, establishing its authority in nanotechnologies in academic circles and beyond. This involves the implementation of multiple complementary actions by all ICN2 employee groups, from the junior and senior researchers to the administration departments. During this period, the ICN2 has successfully increased the number and nature of its collaborations with international research centres, universities and innovation consortiums, as well as forging closer ties with the regional business sector.

These actions can be roughly grouped as follows:

As part of the internationalisation efforts contemplated in the Severo Ochoa programme, collaboration agreements have been signed to formalise existing collaborations with relevant actors in nanoresearch. For instance, we now have formal agreements with the French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission (CEA, France) and the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT, Australia), and a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the China Graphene Industry Alliance (CGIA, China).

Early actions deriving from these collaborations are varied, and include: a joint workshop with CEA, the first RMIT-sponsored PhD student at the ICN2, numerous invited talks at graphene conferences in China, and a MoU with a Chinese company to establish a joint graphene industrialisation laboratory at the ICN2.

There have also been achievements in this respect at the European level, particularly through participation in initiatives within the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme.

For instance, the ICN2’s success rate in this funding programme in 2015 was 19.5%, nearly five percent higher than the overall success rate under the first 100 H2020 calls. The full list of H2020 projects in which the ICN2 has participated will soon be available here.

ICN2 group leaders are also active in the following big initiatives in European research:

  • Graphene Flagship: ICN2 group leaders, ICREA Prof. Stephan Roche and ICREA Prof. Jose A. Garrido, are deputy leaders of the Spintronics and Biomedical Technologies work packages of this Future and Emerging Technology Flagship, the EU’s largest research initiative to date.
  • MaX Center of Excellence: ICN2 director and group leader, CSIC Research Prof. Pablo Ordejón, is one of the principal investigators of this initiative at the forefront of high performance and high throughput computing technologies.
  • FET Advisory Group: ICREA Research Prof. Clivia M. Sotomayor Torres was appointed the next chair of this advisory group to the European Commission, established to ensure and maximise the impact of radically new emerging technologies.
  • Photonics21: ICREA Research Prof. Clivia M. Sotomayor Torres is also a member of the Board of Stakeholders of this public-private partnership, established under H2020.
  • StableNextSol: Prof. Mónica Lira-Cantú is the lead coordinator of this COST Action that brings together over 460 members from 35 countries and 22 sectors related to the lifetime and stability of organic and perovskite solar cells.

Co-authorship of papers, as the end result of a collaboration of some kind, is another way to boost international visibility in academic circles, serving to associate the ICN2 with prominent research centres. Some such centres with which the ICN2 has produced joint research papers for the first time under the Severo Ochoa programme include: MESA+ Institute for Nanotechnology (Netherlands); Cambridge Graphene Centre, University of Oxford, University College London, University of Manchester (UK); MIT, Columbia University, Harvard (USA); and Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich (ETH Zurich), Swiss Federal Institute of Technology of Lausanne (EPFL) (Switzerland).

Link to publications

Researchers and students from all over the world come to the ICN2 to participate in joint research projects as a result of collaborations with international universities and research centres. In 2015, for instance, we hosted a total of 207 visitors, including interns, fellows, senior researchers and professors, of which 98 were female and 115 of non-Spanish origin. The average duration of their time at the ICN2 was four and a half months.

Closer to home, we have made moves to establish ties with the regional business sector. In April 2016 the ICN2 signed a partnership agreement with Eurecat, the largest technology centre in Catalonia, for the joint development and marketing of prototypes to industrial product developers.

The ICN2 has also joined the Automotive Industry Cluster of Catalonia (CIAC), as a member of its technology commission, and the Advanced Materials Cluster of Catalonia (MAV), as a member of its management committee. Through these memberships, it is able to participate in brokerage and training sessions, as well as other networking events with Catalan business leaders, providing opportunities to better understand client needs and how ICN2 know-how can be adapted to meet them.