2021 was a great year that gave us hope in a turning back to normality, or even to a better scenario considering the effects that the pandemic had in the perception of knowledge and technology transfer. This new perception has an impact on the scientific and technology strategy in Spain and Europe.
We finished the year with 6 proof of concept projects from the AEI and 2 more proof of concept from our internal Frontier Interdisciplinary Projects awarded. The total funding of the projects reaches 815.000 €.
We filed 5 priority patent applications. These patents are related to nanomedicine, batteries, thermal conductivity measurement devices, and to water pollutants sensing.
We had 3 technologies in mentoring programmes. Researchers were advised on the commercial strategy. These technologies were related to superconducting materials, supercapacitors electrodes and advanced materials for cell culture. The mentoring projects were the Lab-2-market from the XRE4S and the COMTE-EBT from the FGCSIC.
During 2021 several services and R+D agreements were signed. The total funding of these projects reached 450.000€.
We can also mention that we have signed 29 NDA (non-disclosure agreements)/MTAs (material transfer agreements), that ICMAB was represented in the CSIC’s booth in EXPOQUIMIA the biggest chemistry meeting in Spain, and that members of the Knowledge Transfer Unit had participated in 5 brokerage events.
2021 was the year of the hybrid events: we managed to start doing in-person events, after the pandemic, but we continued to do them also online, due to the capacity limits of the rooms. This is why most seminars, workshops, schools and activities organized were in hybrid format, usually using the Zoom platform.
2021 was also the year of Youtube: we uploaded 39 videos in our Youtube channel, with more than 17,000 views, over 770 hours of views, more than 21,400 impressions and gaining 140 subscribers. The videos were about our seminars and periodical lectures on different topics (7), about the Frontier Interdisciplinary Projects (FIPs) (7), videos with lectures of the EMERGING2021 DOC-FAM school on Advanced Functional Materials for Emerging Applications (5) and of the SOPHOT2021 Severo Ochoa school on Phononics and Thermal Transport (9), some science outreach videos for Expominer (3), some videos about our projects, such as Smart-4-Fabry, BIG-MAP or Sensoraïm, or even an institutional video about our Scientific Equipment Platforms.
We continued our activities to reach the general public and young students in schools, and adapted the activities online: we continued our Online Escape Room of our superheroes, the Matheroes: the materials of the future, and we got funding to produce 10 videos of our research explained for a general audience, YouMaker, which will be released in 2022. With the focus on secondary school students, we continued to work with ESCOLAB form the Barcelona Council, to match our science outreach activities with the scholar curriculum, and prepared accordingly some activities and a video for their channel. For this public, we also continued participating on the Barcelona Science Festival, the European Researcher’s Night, or even the Science Week, and also for the International Day of Women and Girls in Science (11F) in collaboration with the Gender Equality Committee.
We managed to increase our impact externally through our website, social networks, and media impacts, sending over 13 press releases and producing three videos for the Catalan Television (TV3), apart from participating in radio programmes. We updated our website, especially the research units and groups website, but also the scientific and technical services website, and created more merchandising material for our staff and visitors. We also collaborated with the Technology Transfer Unit to disseminate our technological offers.
We managed to keep organising events for our staff internally, such as celebrations, contests, escape rooms and honorary workshops, to keep our staff communicated and involved in the center.
During 2021 we hosted many courses, workshops, schools and seminars for our staff, most of them in hybrid or online mode, and we continued our Mentoring Programme for our PhDs, 21 of which defended their PhD thesis.
In total, by the end of 2021 the ICMAB graduates amounted 139.
During 2021, 21 PhD theses were defended, 10 women (48 %) and 11 men (52 %), and of the 33 supervisors of the graduated fellows, 17 were women (52 %) and 16 men (48 %).
Congratulations to all our 2021 ICMAB graduates: Natalia Chamorro, Víctor Fuentes, Rogger P. Palacios, Camilla Dore, Ana Begoña Buades, Zheng Ma, Sandra Giraldo, Osnat Zapata, Milena Cervo, Saúl Estandía, Irene Anton, Pau Molet, Judit Tomsen, Mathieu Mirjolet, Sole Roig, Raphaëlle Houdeville, Jan Grzelak, Laura Rodríguez, Songbai Zhang, Francesco Silvestri, and José Piers Jurado.
The ICMAB is leading several collaborative research projects funded by the European Commission under its Framework Programmes and several national (RETOS and I+D Excelencia) and regional projects. This continued leadership results in high visibility, a strong reputation as well as relevant scientific and innovation output. In 2021 we continued with a high success in international and national grant attraction: 4.1 M€ were from European Horizon Europe projects, 2.6 M€ from MCIN projects, 0.4 M€ from CSIC-competitive and 0.1 M€ from the Catalan government. In total, we had 30 EU ongoing projects, 5 of them started in 2021, and 64 projects with Spanish funding, 17 of them started in 2021, 8 projects with Catalan funding, 1 of them started in 2021, and we had the 7 Frontier Interdisciplinary Projects from the internal ICMAB call funded by the Severo Ochoa grant (which you can find in our Youtube channel!).
The Institute of Materials Science of Barcelona (ICMAB-CSIC) coordinates the first MSCA COFUND programme awarded to CSIC. The doctoral fellowship programme DOC-FAM (DOCtoral training programme in Functional Advanced Materials) is currently allowing the mobility of 22 Early Stage Researchers in the field of functional advanced materials, 9 of them at the ICMAB. The first call of the project was on October 2017, and the first fellows were incorporated during the second semester of 2018. The second call was on September 2018, and the fellows entered the training phase during 2019.
The other participants in DOC-FAM programme are the Institute of Microelectronics of Barcelona (IMB-CNM-CSIC), the Catalan Institute of Nanoscience and Nanotechnology (ICN2), the Catalonia Institute for Energy Research (IREC) and the ALBA Synchrotron. At the ICMAB, the project is cofunded by the Severo Ochoa seal of excellence.
In 2021, the DOC-FAM summer school, Emerging 2021, took place. There were 16 invited talks, from very recognised international researchers. The programme also included interdisciplinary talks, involving arts and science, research publications and the European Research Council. There was also a roundtable about ‘life after PhD’ with 4 experts indifferents fields. Finally attendants were able to present their works through posters and talks.
ICMAB is one of the host institutions of the NFFA-Europe (Nanofoundries for fine analysis) project for the synthesis and characterization at the nanoscale across Europe, which started in 2015 and finished in March 2021. ICMAB is also part of the continuation of NFFA-Europe project as NFFA-Europe Pilot (NEP) until 2025.
One of our main strategic priority actions is to continue attracting scientific talent, in all the stages of the scientific career, and research technicians and support staff. We also aim to continue improving our current training programs, for all our staff, to educate and guide our young researchers through their first years of research live, and to boost our internationalization.
During 2021 we welcomed back Research Prof. David Amabilino, who was for some years at the University of Nottingham, and we also welcomed ICREA researcher Kasper Moth-Poulsen, who joined ICMAB with an ERC project on new materials for thermal regulation.
We also welcomed 2 Ramon y Cajal researchers, Pablo Guardia and Raphael Pfattner, who will work on projects related to nanoscale building blocks for nanomedicine or catalysis and flexible organic electronic for sensors.
Three of our researchers promoted to Research Scientists (Florencio Sánchez, Alberto Pomar and Gervasi Herranz), and four more became Tenured Scientists (Anna Laromaine, Ana M. López, Miquel Royo and Arántzazu González).
We also received 2 postdoctoral researchers within the MSCA-IF program, 1 with the Beatriu de Pinós program, 2 with the Juan de la Cierva program, and 1 with the Tecnio Spring.
Many early stage researchers started their PhD with us in 2021, including 2 with MSCA-ITN (HORATES) fellows, 1 with MSCA-COFUND (DESTINY), 8 with FPI contracts, and 5 with grants from the China Scholarship Council (CSC).
We received many undergraduate and master students who carried out their bachelor and master research project with us. We had 7 of them with JAE Intro SOMdM grants.
Our Research Support Unit also grew: Pilar López at Human Resources, Minerva Estruch and Imma Colomina as Executive Officers, Susana Lorente at the Invoices and Purchases Dept., Maite Escobar as Project Manager, and Joan Prat to join the Information Technology Dept.
Finally, three of our researchers became ad honorem, and we celebrated the Christmas 2021 in honor of them: Susagna Ricart, Enric Canadell and Jaume Veciana.