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The Besòs-Marina Knowledge Axis: a new territorial development initiative

Presentation of the project by Màrius Rubiralta, director of the Food and Nutrition Torribera Campus of the UB.

Presentation of the project by Màrius Rubiralta, director of the Food and Nutrition Torribera Campus of the UB.



The Besòs-Marina Knowledge Axis is a specialisation and territorial competitiveness project (PECT) centred on food, agriculture and health sectors. It is an strategic project for the social and economic development of a territory inhabited by around 500,000 people that includes the following towns: Badalona, Sant Adrià de Besòs and Santa Coloma de Gramenet, Alella, Cabrils, El Masnou, Montgat, Premià de Dalt, Premià de Mar, Sant Pol de Mar, Tiana, Vilassar de Dalt and Vilassar de Mar. The food and agriculture sector, restoration and culinary tourism are important activities in the region.

The project will be developed from 2014 to 2020 and its partners are the University of Barcelona (UB) —by means of its Food and Nutrition Torribera Campus, located in Santa Coloma de Gramenet)— and the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB), together with the Germans Trias i Pujol Health Sciences Research Institute. Other research, assistance and university institutions located in the area participate in the project too.

The Axis is part of the new European policy stated by Horizon 2020, which is part of the Research and Innovation Strategies for Smart Specialisation (RIS3), aimed at promoting territories socio-economic development.

In Catalonia, the strategy will be developed by means of the project RIS3CAT (2014-2020). It identifies seven leading sectors that include food and health industries, two sectors that outstand in the territories of the Besòs-Marina Knowledge Axis. The objective is to promote strategic alliances among the actors of the productive sector and those that generate knowledge. It is the first time that these actions are combined with the guidelines stated by the European Commission in order to focus and coordinate the initiative with the existing territorial development projects by means of the tools provided by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) 2014-2020 and the European Social Fund (ESF).

To apply for these funds it is necessary to design a territorial strategic project that seeks the interaction among actors (quadruple helix). The main objective is to promote competitiveness and suitable social improvements through projects centred on offering opportunities to develop knowledge in leading sectors that enable to define a plan of territorial improvement and development.

These territorial projects, named PECT, are led by local administrations together with other administrations in the territory —for instance, provincial councils— and public and private agents (business, university, research centres and organizations).

The main aim of the Axis is to enhance competitiveness in the territory, by keeping its commitment to work according to the guidelines established by Horizon 2020, which aims at achieving a more structured territory with increased employment, education, modernisation, social justice, innovation and international visibility.


The UB is working on a model centre on food sciences

One of the first initiatives to develop in the territory is the creation of the Studies and Research Centre on Food Sciences of Catalonia. On 22 September 2014, the Government of Catalonia approved a special action for the University of Barcelona to develop the initiative and design the plan to create the centre.

The project will be written by the UB and the chef Joan Roca, together with several institutions, included the Alicia Foundation. The headquarters of the centre will be located at the Food and Nutrition Torribera Campus in a 4,000 square metre building. Its construction has already been pre-approved by the Santa Coloma de Gramenet City Council. The centre will be managed by a consortium and it will promote R&D in food sciences in Catalonia.


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