Despite operating in a context of severe economic crisis, companies have firmly committed themselves to investment in R+D+i as value for the future. This has been confirmed by the results presented today by the Basque technology alliance IK4, whose income was consolidated in 2011 at 103 million euros, driven by direct contracting by companies; this entry accounts for 60% of the total figure.
This income, 96 million euros of which comes from R+D+i projects, signifies a slight increase over the previous year, and consolidates figures that IK4 expects to maintain over the coming financial years. The figures put the Basque alliance among Europe's 10 main private technology corporations leading the percentage of income from private investment, which, according to its directors, reaffirms its role as "an efficient and attractive model for private investment."
These results and forecasts were presented in Donostia-San Sebastián today by the Chairman of IK4, Jesús Iriondo; its Executive Vice-Chairman, Guillermo Dorronsoro; and the CEO, José Miguel Erdozain, who have been accompanied by the senior executives of the 9 R+D centres that make up the alliance. At the Technology Park of Donostia-San Sebastian today, IK4's management also led the third plenary session held by the alliance's Strategic Committee.
This organ is made up of 40 figures representing the Basque Country's most important companies, institutions, universities and scientific and technology players. It is they who, in their personal capacity, advise IK4 on its reflection process with a view to laying the strategic foundations on which the future activity of the Alliance will be built.
The people in charge at IK4 today rated the results presented by the alliance in 2011 as "highly positive", since they confirm their theory that research, development and innovation are being turned into the cornerstones of economic revival, and that IK4 is being built on a "fundamental tool for contributing towards the revival, sustainability and competitiveness of the economy," based on its role as a driving force of companies in the form of an R+D+i antenna. Today the alliance has about 800 client companies and 1,500 research projects up and running.
Cuts in public investment
If the main driving force of IK4's income comes from direct contracts with companies, the remaining 40% comes from participation in competitive research projects funded by the public Administrations, a portion which was cut last year. Nevertheless, the alliance is anticipating that this public investment, in particular that coming from the European Union and the Government of the Basque Autonomous Community (region), will recover in the course of 2012.
It is worth highlighting the leading role being played by IK4 in the European Union's 7th Framework Programme, in which it has received accumulated returns of 41 million euros. Specifically, it has taken part in 104 research projects and has led 18 of them.
Investing and contributing to knowledge
IK4 has likewise committed itself to investment in order to enrich its technological offer, not only in scientific facilities but also in the setting up of new companies. This was why it devoted 21 million euros over the previous year towards making investments, 30% up on 2010 and a figure it expects to maintain in 2012.
Equally important is its contribution in terms of technological know-how. Last year IK4 applied for 32 patents and 23 were granted, which means it now has 152 patents in force. It has set up a total of 71 new, technology-based companies which employ about 750 people. As regards the contribution of know-how, last year it produced 515 ISI papers, 35 books published by international publishing houses, and organised 4 international conferences.
These good results are the basis on which IK4, over the coming months, will be launching its strategic reflection, which is already far advanced with a view to drawing up its new Strategic Plan 2013-2016 with its sights placed on Basque industry and the global knowledge market, and on which six big challenges pivot: globalisation, specialisation, innovation, communication, people and strategic vision.
Among other context references, IK4's reflection will be keenly bearing in mind the priorities and orientations included in the new Plan for Science, Technology and Innovation recently presented by the Government of the Basque Autonomous Community (region) and which endorses its own lines of work. In the years to come IK4 is planning to commit itself to concentrating its research into four major areas: health, energy, transport and mobility, and advanced production.
Fresh visual image
The Alliance is thus facing the year from a consolidated position as a top organisation in R+D+i, by maintaining its commitment to a federal model which was reinforced in 2011 with the incorporation of its 9th member, AZTERLAN, the R+D centre based in Bizkaia (Basque Country) and which is adding its own specialisation to the ones already being contributed by the other members of the alliance: CEIT, CIDETEC, GAIKER, IDEKO, IKERLAN, LORTEK, TEKNIKER and VICOMTECH.
IK4 was keen that this renewed boost to its federal commitment, reflected in its new Strategic Plan, should have its symbolic representation reflected in a fresh visual identity that represents the values on which the alliance rests and which was presented to the general public yesterday.
IK4, 1,430 professionals
Today, IK4 already brings together over 1,430 professionals, 20% of whom are PhD holders. The Alliance develops its activity around eight scientific and technological units: Biotechnology and Biomaterials, Micro- and Nanotechnologies, Environment and Recycling, Energy, Industrial Management and Production, Mechatronics, Communication, Materials and Processes, and Information and Communication Technologies.
This specialisation enables it to position itself as a technology partner of companies in order to undertake any kind of project in a whole host of fields of application. That is why IK4 is also a benchmark in participation in research projects promoted by the European, Spanish and Basque Administrations.