Financing for great innovative projects

– The government of Catalonia will allocate 72 million euros until 2018 in the promotion of large innovative business projects.
– Through the so-called RIS3CAT communities, the government encourages collaborative R & D projects in Catalonia.
– The projects are carried out between companies, technological centers, universities and other agents of innovation.

ACCIÓ, the agency for the copetitivitat of the company of the Generalitat of Catalonia, attached to the Department of Enterprise and Knowledge, will allocate 72 million euros until 2018 in the impetus of great innovative entrepreneurial priorities. This is a new initiative of the agency ACCIÓ, which is specialized in the promotion of innovation and business internationalization and has a network of 36 offices around the world.
Through the so-called RIS3CAT communities, the government fosters collaborative R & D projects carried out between companies, technological centers, universities and other innovation agents in Catalonia.

Catalonia is a pioneer in Spain in the articulation of these great alliances, which have the budget for the highest innovation so far.
This is a budget from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) of the European Union, designed to transform the economy by promoting three-year macro-projects that will shape the future of the transport, food, energy, Health, design, culture and industrial systems.

Each RIS3CAT community can have a maximum contribution of 6 million euros, and is co-financed with public contributions of up to 50%. In this way, it is committed to public – private collaboration and it is estimated that the investment mobilized until 2018 will be 216 million euros.

New call
ACCIÓ has just launched the second call of the RIS3CAT communities, endowed with 26 million euros. The companies and agents have until January 31, 2017 to join forces with this instrument, which evaluates the proposals according to their scientific-technical quality and the impact on the market.

Five communities
The first five RIS3CAT communities that were launched in 2016 are made up of 164 entities and more than 1,300 professionals. There are five sectoral projects that have a budget of 19.1 million euros and mobilize 43.8 million. The sectors of the communities already created are health (two) industries, food, chemistry, energy and resources, and sustainable mobility. The communities are led by IRTA, Biocat, Leitat, IREC, and Ficosa. Each community has designed a work plan that includes 26 R & D projects, 225 actions to create new products and services and the start-up of new companies.

How to access
Companies and agents of the Catalan R & D and innovation system (technological centers, research centers, universities, hospitals, etc.) can be part of a RIS3CAT community, grouped into working groups of at least eight members, half Of which must be companies. The community must be in one of the sectoral areas: alimetnació, chemistry, energy and resources, sustainable mobility, design, cultural industries, health and life sciences and industrial systems. The action plan presented must have a budget of 7 million euros and the contribution of the member companies should represent a minimum of 30% of the eligible expenditure.

Pioneering actions in food
One of the RIS3CAT communities that is already underway is Innopat, which brings together 57 companies, centers and universities that are currently developing collaborative R & D projects with a budget of 11 million euros.
The Innopat community is focused on healthy eating as the axis of transformation of the food industry sector.
One of its projects is the creation of a mobile application that will scan the barcodes of foods in stores to recommend to the user the products that suit him according to his state of health and the ingredients scanned.
According to Agustí Fonts, deputy director of IRTA and coordinator of Innopat, is intended “to facilitate the decision-making of consumers during the process of buying food.”
Innopat, explains Fonts, will also work on “the production of new ingredients that give value to the nutritional capacities of foods, improving the health of consumers.” Communities are based on coordinated work between public and private bodies, and in this sense, Fuentes points out that “they are a very useful tool because they allow sharing risk, obtaining practical knowledge and building bridges of trust between the public and private sectors , Improving the competitiveness of the sector “.

Direct help for SMEs
The innovation coupon program is a direct aid of up to 6,000 euros for small and medium-sized enterprises so that they can start in the process of innovation.
It is a fast and flexible service that assures the company a response within 15 days.
So far, 125 Catalan SMEs have initiated innovative projects in the fields of advanced manufacturing, biotechnology and advanced materials, among others, and have invested in total about 830,000 euros. ACCIÓ has opened the third call for innovation coupons, which will be available to FNS companies on December 14th.
Estiluz, a company in the lighting sector, has made use of this help and managed to reduce the cost of one of its lights by 40%.
Marta Masdeu, marketing manager of Estiluz, explains that the company has applied “improvements in materials, packaging and transportation system of this product.” Masdeu adds, on the other hand, that he has learned to “follow a few steps to eco-design products and sitematize their process”.
Emoresa, located in the town of San Juan de las Abadesas and concentrating the bulk of exports to Central Europe and the United States, plans to apply this innovation system to other products in its catalog.

The RIS3CAT communities: Catalan business innovation

Catalonia is looking for a change of productive and entrepreneurial model to face the challenges of the future. To this end, it is committed to constant business investment in innovation as a factor of competitiveness, taking advantage of the high scientific and technological level of our territory.
To this end, in February 2014, the Generalitat approved the RIS3CAT intelligent specialization strategy and its reference instrument: the RIS3CAT communities, made up of companies and agents of the Catalan R & D and innovation system who aspire to boost innovation in the areas Sectors where Catalonia has competitive advantages.
The RIS3CAT communities foresee an initial six-year journey (2014 to 2020) and represent the first great opportunity in Catalonia to bring forward important public-business transformation bets. In this context, the rich and varied base of local capacity and knowledge will ultimately be differential and will lead to a competitive advantage in the future for the entire territory.
The idea behind the birth of communities is that, in today’s business environment, competitiveness lies in collaboration and the constant and rapid exchange of information, technical and data.
Today, the main driver of innovation is the application of disruptive technologies and new knowledge; Therefore, favoring constant osmosis between companies and scientific and technological agents opens up new market opportunities that can (and will) reach far beyond the territory of departure.

mariona sanz

Most importantly, it is not only a matter of defining a long-term horizon and strategy, the communities will produce a concrete agenda of activities carried out by the companies and the organizations involved. This will lead to the incorporation and effective and faster application of the technologies developed in the production processes.
This process of constant exchange of knowledge will become fruitful throughout the business environment as a whole, and will create new economic and employment opportunities. The RIS3CAT communities undoubtedly represent the main tool in Catalonia to boost business innovation and are an agent of change that will allow them to reap their fruits in the coming years.

MARIONA SANZ, Director of innovation of ACCIÓ

Two Catalan companies improve freight transport
Catalan companies Promaut and Mcrit have developed new hardware that will help automate freight transport from factories, favoring the use of rail networks.
In this case, it is a project of the line known as the Nucleus of Industrial Research and Experimental Development of ACTION, which has a budget of more than 220,000 euros.
According to Juan Matutano, CEO of Promaut: “The factories are already very automated, but we observe that the logistics between factories and users is not so much: errors of manipulation, blows and traceability are commented.” These drawbacks can be avoided with automation of logistics.
The project focuses on rail transport to “reduce logistical costs, environmental emissions and waiting time”.
Promaut and Mcrit currently hold talks with major car manufacturers and also with railway operators to present and patent this solution.

R & D projects with an impact on industry
The cores are business collaboration projects that have a high impact on the industry. ACCION allocates 5 million euros and it is estimated that the investment that the companies will mobilize will be approximately 15 million, through the creation of new products or processes for the improvement of technologies. The program has been in operation since 2008 and has supported 576 companies and 223 projects with aid valued at 67.4 million euros.

News published in El Punt Avui
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