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“Inventum”: a board game on research and knowledge transfer

During the presentation

During the presentation

Oriol Comas

Oriol Comas

The game "Inventum"

The game "Inventum"

08/11/2011

The rector of the UB, Dr. Dídac Ramírez, presented the board game Inventum in a special event held on 8 November in the Aula Magna of the Historic Building. Inventum, conceived as an entertaining way to learn more about innovation and knowledge transfer, is the result of an initiative coordinated by the University of Barcelona and the Bosch i Gimpera Foundation, with support from the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation provided through the Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology (FECYT). The presentation also featured contributions from the managing director of the Bosch i Gimpera Foundation, Carme Verdaguer, the head of the Scientific Culture Unit of the FECYT, César López, and the professional game creator and designer of Inventum, Oriol Comas.

Hiring researchers, securing funding and providing the necessary equipment are only some of the challenges universities face in the search for knowledge upon which social progress can be built. This task is made easier by the support of commercial and institutional partners and participation in joint research projects with other centres. These day-to-day activities are the same challenges faced by the players in Inventum.

In the collaborative game, each player assumes the role of a university and must join forces with colleagues to bring about one of the major human achievements of the last century, such as the discovery of penicillin, the discovery of Tutankhamen’s tomb or the invention of human genome sequencing. The fate of the players – who must also work towards the specific objectives of their universities – will be decided by the dice and by their skill in strategically playing the game cards. Inventum aims to be an entertaining way to learn about the roles of the different agents in the knowledge transfer process.

Inventum is the work of the professional game designer Oriol Comas, who has devised more than 50 board games and street games for institutions, NGOs, universities, newspapers and companies. He produced the Catalan adaptation of Scrabble and recently worked with Màrius Serra on the game Verbàlia. Among his most notable creations are El joc de les rajoles d’Antoni Gaudí, produced with Jep Ferret, Àgora Barcelona, El joc del món and the competition Què llegeixes?, also designed with Jep Ferret and backed by the Institute of Catalan Letters, which launched the web version in September 2005 (www.quellegeixes.cat). Comas oversaw the games area of the 2004 Universal Forum of Cultures in Barcelona, and has published the book El món en jocs, sobre la història dels jocs de tauler (RBA-La Magrana). His personal collection includes 2,100 books and 900 journals on games, and more than 2,400 board games.

Inventum, which received the support of the Scientific Culture and Innovation Unit (UCC+i) and the Bosch i Gimpera Foundation, will be marketed by the company DEVIR, which specializes in games and leisure products. One thousand copies of the game will be produced and put on sale in book shops and specialist stores, as well as via the UB’s online shop, which will be up and running shortly. By securing a commercial release, the game has itself become an example of successful knowledge transfer and the valorization and commercialization of UB research results.

Alongside the traditional responsibilities of teaching and research, universities are being asked to take an increasing role in economic and social development. This third mission, which at the UB is coordinated by the Bosch i Gimpera Foundation, consists primarily in transferring the knowledge and results generated by university R&D&I activities to wider society, contributing to the general competitiveness of the business sector and improving social welfare. The generic term for this process, knowledge transfer, is the focus of Inventum.

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