Tag Archives: foundations

The European Day of Foundations and Donors: more than just a celebration

On other occasions, we have discussed the role of foundations in the area of innovation. The facts, and the figures that support them, highlight the role of this kind of organization in research and development activities. With almost 8 billion euros contributed to Spain’s GDP and over 200,000 employees, this is a key sector in fields such as health, education and research.

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#October1Europe 2016 – Video

In response to changes over the last twenty years, foundations have become platforms for collaboration between companies and government departments. In the area of research, they are now strongly consolidated instruments, with solid structures and a crucial role in the relationship between the production sector and the organizations in which most research and development activities take place, particularly universities, technology centres and public research organizations.

Foundations have been incorporated into these processes because they meet the needs of stakeholders in the system, including researchers and technologists, and businessmen and managers of companies that are committed to innovation. One of these needs – perhaps the main one – is to work as a hub that facilitates the relation between entities that differ in their nature, organization and objectives, but all work in the area of research.

The change in funding instruments, which are increasingly focused on occasional or regular collaboration between the government and the production sector, has also strengthened the foundations’ role as an intermediary. Foundations also have an important function in projects funded through competitive calls, most of which are international. In this case, the foundations’ experience and their contacts with entities in other countries is a key factor.

On the occasion of the European Day of Foundations, it is worth analysing not only the activity that foundations now undertake, but also their scope and the role they are called to play in a context in which innovation is increasingly open and collaborative. This is still a challenge and an opportunity. Knowledge transfer, recognition of the value of knowledge, promotion of applied research and response to technological needs have been the aims of the UPC Technology Center (CIT UPC) foundation since its creation five years ago.

That is why we are joining this celebration. Our strength can be seen in the activity of over 500 researchers in the 20 centres that are members of the CIT UPC, around a thousand agreements with companies in many different sectors, 119 registered patents, and 25 spin-offs founded as a result of the research that we have developed.

Happy European Day of Foundations and Donors.

Foundations and innovation

Published in the “Innovadores” supplement in the El Mundo newspaper on 1 October 2014

The management of innovation in the public and private sector has developed considerably. In three decades, we have evolved from fairly inflexible systems, which were quite closed and used administrative processes that did not facilitate knowledge transfer, to an open innovation model, in which research groups and departments contribute their knowledge and skills to the production sector. Foundations have played an important part in this process.

The role of foundations, and more specifically that of university foundations, goes beyond their work in the management of philanthropy and fund-raising, which is just one of their areas of activity. Foundations have brought new tools to the innovation system, including the management of the transfer of innovative products and services, the construction of a system of relationships with the production sector in various fields, specialized training, participation in international projects, and the establishment of collaborative structures, such as science and technology parks, clusters or technology platforms.

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This role as an interface is essential, because in many cases the creators of technology do not have effective, flexible mechanisms for transferring it to companies. Conversely, foundations help companies to connect with the academic and research environment. So it is not surprising that 90% of entities that work in R&D have at least one foundation in their structure.

Some weeks ago, the Institute for Strategic Analysis of Foundations (INAEF) published data on the sector of foundations during the recession years. To maintain their activity, foundations have disinvested, cut their assets and increased total expenditure, which has enabled them to increase the total number of direct beneficiaries of their actions. The icing on the cake is the number of jobs created, which rose by almost 15,000 between 2008 and 2012. This represents an increase of 8% in a difficult economic climate.

To continue to contribute to economic recovery and growth, foundations need improvements to be made in the legal framework – such as the proposed Council regulation on the Statute for a European Foundation – that promote and streamline business participation in R&D activities and projects. No less importantly, regulations must make sponsorship more attractive, to bring more resources to the science, technology and innovation system. Our efforts, that is, the efforts of foundations, should be focused on strengthening our work and improving the way we communicate about our activities, our services and our ability to convert knowledge into innovation.

To achieve this, the role of the media is becoming increasingly important. In addition, direct channels for communicating with those in the surrounding environment and society in general, such as webs, blogs and social networks, make it easier to disseminate information about our potential.

On 1 October, the European Day of Foundations and Donors was held for the second year running. This is therefore an excellent time to explain our role in the R&D system and to improve university-company relations, for the benefit of all.

Susana Sánchez Galve
Director of the UPC Technology Center Foundation
of the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya·BarcelonaTech
(CIT UPC)