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Why the Basque Country

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Getting ready for the future

Technology centres at the service of innovation

The Basque Country has an important network of technology centres that carry out research aimed at providing the industrial sector with valuable technological solutions and knowledge.

Since the 1980s, the Basque Country has given support to innovationaimed at improving business competitiveness to consolidate a wealthy and modern economy. This view of the future was shared with the Basque industry, which in the last years has increased investment in research and development (R&D), as has done the Basque Government, allocating 2.1% GDP to this area.

Among the many initiatives of the Basque Government to foster innovation is the establishment of the Basque Network of Science, Technology and Innovation (RVCTI), with the aim of developing the infrastructure that would supply the most advanced and sophisticated specialist technology to the Basque productive fabric.

Among the members of the RVCTI are the Technology Centres of the Basque Country, key actors in the spreading of innovation processes in the business sector.

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Basque Technology Centres

AIC-Automotive Intelligence Center: This centre integrates knowledge, technology and industrial development into a single market-oriented structure. Managed by the Auto Parts Industry Cluster Association of the Basque Country (ACICAE), AIC focuses on multidisciplinary work and the coordination of highly qualified personnel. Since it was established in 2006, this Automotive Intelligence Center has been engaged in the encouragement of sector knowledge, the pursuit of applied and basic research relevant to the automotive industry, professional training at all levels, the internal development of new, value-added business projects in the sector, and the attraction of innovative projects. A pioneering centre in Europe, AIC draws the leading automakers in Europe (Volkswagen, Toyota and others), who are setting up in the Historical Territory with top-level research teams.

Tecnalia Research & Innovation: The largest technology centre in Spain and the fifth largest centre in Europe, Tecnalia was established in 2010 after the merger of eight technology centres (Labein, Inasmet, Robotiker, Fatronik, Cidemco, ESI, Leia and Euve), with the aim of creating a relevant technology operator at the European level. It has five divisions comprising 16 distinct business units. It operates globally, with R&D contracts signed in third countries and researchers from abroad. Also, it accompanies Basque industries in their activities beyond national borders.

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The bringing together of common values, goals, missions and synergies gives rise to associations like IK4 Research Alliance, a technology centre alliance where each centre is managed individually but they work together in the development of projects in the fields of biotechnology, micro- and nanotechnology, environment and recycling, energy, industrial management and production, mechatronics, materials and processes, and information and communication technologies. Collaboration has led to the establishment of a research centre that is now the second largest centre in Spain state and the sixth in Europe. The association comprises the following centres:

AZTERLAN: This technology centre specialises in research, development and innovation as applied to the metal industry and metal mechanics. In its 30-year history, it has given technological support to more than 1,500 companies from various sectors, including the automotive industry, wind energy, aerospace, shipbuilding, railways, and so forth.

CEIT (Centre of Technical Studies & Research): It opened in 1982 with the support of the University of Navarra. It carries out applied research projects in close cooperation with the R&D departments of the companies it holds contracts with. Research at CEIT covers six areas: materials, applied mechanics, electronics and communications, environmental engineering, microelectronics and microsystems, and biomedical engineering. In addition, it gives industry-oriented training programmes for young researchers.

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CIDETEC FoundationIt specialises in knowledge generation and transfer in the areas of materials, surfaces and energy. It aims at enhancing companies’ innovation capabilities and competitiveness through the development of new products and processes. As many as 125 professionals – 40% have PhDs and 90% are university graduates – work at the foundation’s two facilities.

Gaiker Foundation: It develops projects in the R&D sector focusing on biotechnology, environment and recycling, and plastics and composites. A member of the IK4 Research Alliance, it provides advanced technology services (consultancy and advisory services, innovation plans, etc.), laboratory tests and assays, and it contributes to the dissemination of technological knowledge.

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Tekniker Foundation: It aims at increasing the capacity for innovation of the industrial sector, improving competitiveness through applied technology and knowledge. It carries out projects in the following areas: mechatronics, manufacturing technologies and microtechnology.

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IDEKO, S. Coop.: Its organisational model favours the transfer of research results to the market. The teams working at this centre identify and assess opportunities, design and develop products, business lines and manufacturing processes. They also try and solve problems providing technology solutions like technical consultancy or services based on advanced equipment.

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IKERLAN, S. Coop. Ltda.: Established in 1974, IKERLAN is a centre for innovation and comprehensive development of mechatronic and energy products. It also promotes innovation in design and manufacturing processes, collaborates with companies in the comprehensive development of new products, from the initial idea to industrialisation. IKERLAN is a collaborating partner of the University of Mondragon and a member of the IK4 Research Alliance.

Lortek: This research centre specialises in welding and joining technologies. It provides increasingly effective joining technologies and solutions to the industrial sector, offering comprehensive services throughout the process. In addition, it organises lifelong learning programmes.

Vicomtech Association (Visual Interaction and Communication Technology Centre): It is an applied research centre for interactive computer graphics and multimedia covering a wide range of activity sectors in its six application areas.

The many renowned technology centres in the Basque country confirm the importance the region gives to innovation, research and business development.

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