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The event has brought together representatives of the University of Barcelona, the Spanish Ministry of Economy, Industry and Competitiveness and the Generalitat de Catalunya (Photo:UB).

The Institute of Cosmos Sciences sets up a technology unit at the Barcelona Science Park

The Institute of Cosmos Sciences of the UB (ICCUB) has set up a Technology Unit (ICCUB-Tech) at the Barcelona Science Park to develop highly specialized instrumentation and massive data analysis for scientific and technology projects, as well as for companies. With this initiative, the center - one of the four units that make up the Institute of Space Studies of Catalonia (IEEC)– wants to apply the expertise acquired in space science and particle physics projects to other fields, such as medicine, genomics and marine geociences.


The inauguration ceremony of the new facilities of the ICCUB, a center awarded with the Unit of Excellence Maria de Maeztu distinction, has been held today, 11 May, with the participation of the secretary of State for Research, Development and Innovation of the Spanish Ministry of Economy, Industry and Competitiveness, Carmen Vela; the secretary for Universities and Research of Generalitat de Catalunya, Arcadi Navarro; the rector of the University of Barcelona, Joan Elias; the vice-rector for Research, Domènec Espriu; and Lluís Garrido, director of the ICCUB. 

During her speech, Carmen Vela has emphasized the high scientific quality achieved by the ICCUB, “a center which has earned a place “among the Spanish research elite and which meets exactly the same scientific quality requirements as the ones imposed to Severo Ochoa Centers”. “The ICCUB“, continued Vela, “generates first order scientific output, attracts talent and manages to benefit society through knowledge transfer. It is an example of what we want R&D to be in Spain. We do not need to look outside to find models because we have them here, in Severo Ochoa centers and María de Maeztu Units.”

Rector Joan Elias has underlined “the added-value that having a specialized institute provides to create the critical mass required to apply in Centers of Excellence calls such as María de Maeztu Units”.

For its part, Arcadi Navarro has referred to the last years of crisis: “It has been ten tough years, but also golden years for research in Catalonia and Spain”. On the other hand, during his presentation of ICCUB-Tech, the ICCUB director Lluís Garrido has claimed that “this unit represents a unique opportunity to centralize resources, promote synergies within groups of engineers and take on new challenges, as well as to transfer this technology to society”.

Transversal unit

ICCUB-Tech gathers engineers specialized in instrumentation, electronics and big data who, before the creation of the unit, worked within different research groups of the ICCUB developing technology for space missions, telescopes, accelerators and particle detectors.
The aim of this unit is to centralize and increase the technological activity of the ICCUB and to allow all its members to participate in high-tech projects, giving them assessment and direct support.
At present the unit consists of 25 electronic and telecommunication engineers, computer specialists and physicists and includes, among other facilities, an electronics lab, a precision measurement lab and a clean-room for instrumentation assembly. Further equipment is foreseen to be installed to develop instrumentation for radiation detectors, cameras and space projects.

Technology Transfer

The ICCUB has an important role in international projects such as Gaia and Solar Orbiter missions, from the European Space Agency; LHCb experiment of the Large Hadron Collider, located at CERN; and gamma ray telescopes Magic and CTA. One of the aims of ICCUB-Tech will be to look for technology transfer projects where the expertise acquired in these big scientific projects can be applied, so that their results can also benefit society.
Among such projects, at the moment ICCUB-Tech is applying technology developed for LHCb chips to improve the temporal precision in positron emission tomography (PET). A second example is the application of a compression data algorithm, developed for Gaia, to other areas like genomics, marine geociences and new nanosatellites.