The actions by the KTT Unit aim to maximize the impact of the Institute by coordinating and managing strategic alliances, technology transfer activities and corporate development. The Unit represents IREC in many national and European committees, associations and industrial organizations like EIT InnoEnergy, EMIRI, EERA, CEEC, PTE, among others, fostering international recognition and positioning of the Institute.
IREC is founder and shareholder of the Knowledge and Innovation Community (KIC) InnoEnergy, a Europe-wide company created to help promoting a sustainable future through innovation in the energy field. Created in 2011, it is one of the first KICs fostered by the European Institute of Innovation and Technology. In the recent years, IREC has been actively participating in several InnoEnergy activities and programmes:
- More than 15 IREC PhD candidates have participated in the InnoEnergy PhD school, each receiving specific entrepreneurship training and completing a 6 month internship in industrial companies.
- Enhancing innovation in sustainable energy in Europe. One of the outcomes was the creation of the EOLOS spin-off company, which is currently in the market. Another project (COFAST) filed a licencing agreement with an industrial partner who is commercializing the product.
The “Lab to Market (L2M)” program
During 2018, IREC and InnoEnergy developed a joint program to increase the technology transfer of IREC’s research results to the market, the so called “Lab to Market” (L2M) programme. The objective of L2M is to analyse several IREC technologies including their technological maturity, the level and strategy of IP protection, and market potential in order to assess their potential for future commercialization. The next figure shows the program phases defined jointly by InnoEnergy experts and IREC’s KTT team.
The L2M programme has analysed 20 technologies developed (or being developed) by IREC research groups in the diagnosis phase, selecting the 5 most promising technologies.
In the data analysis phase, these technologies were deeply analysed in collaboration with external experts (using canvas analysis, market assessment, deep IP assessments). Finally, 2 technologies were selected for the design phase including a commercialization strategy proposition (spin-off creation). These technologies are:
- 3D printed SOFCs: IREC and the research team decided to continue the technology development, extend IP protection and internally redefine the exploitation strategy.
- Energy aggregator (CASE): the negotiations for a technology licensing agreement with an energy management SaaS company did not conclude in early 2019. IREC and the researchers are currently taking part in The Collider programme, and also in negotiations with InnoEnergy in order to create a spin-off based on this technology.
As a result of the programme, IREC has:
- Evaluated 20 technologies for potential market exploitation including recommendations for future development.
- Performed deep analysis on 5 of those technologies related to market potential, IP protection and technology maturity including specific recommendations for future commercialization.
- Provided final recommendations and commercialization strategies for the 2 selected technologies, one of which is currently in the process of creating a spin-off.
- Extended knowledge of valorisation, IP protection and exploitation analysis and strategies for the KTT team.
- Provided training and practice of technology and market assessment for researchers.
IREC’s KTT team will follow up all these technologies and will internally continue the methodology defined and validated with InnoEnergy in the future.
Awarded in 2016 by ACCIÓ, IREC is a TECNIO accredited research institute. TECNIO is the Generalitat of Catalonia agency responsible for competitiveness and internationalization. This accreditation is a competitive process that recognizes the capacity of research centres to successfully manage technology transfer activities. The accreditation requires the definition and implementation of a dedicated technology transfer policy including assignment of professional skilled resources, a marketing plan, research project management and quality control procedures, IP protection and valorisation strategies and a significant industrial contracts portfolio and track record, especially with Catalan industry but also internationally.
TECNIO accreditation allows research institutes to apply for specific funding programmes by ACCIÓ, such as TECNIOSpring (talent recruitment), TECNOBons (small technology transfer contracts) and INNOTEC (research and development projects with industry).
IREC-Eurecat Energy Joint Unit
In 2017, IREC and EURECAT (the Technology Centre of Catalonia) signed a strategic agreement with the support of the Generalitat of Catalonia in order to implement a joint unit for technological and business development in the energy field.
The unit aims at promoting joint actions by sharing technical and human resources to maximize competitive and industrial funding opportunities and synergies between the institutions and their research groups.
IREC contributes to design the Catalan energy prospective towards the horizon 2050 and the energy transition in Catalonia lead by ICAEN.
IREC has analysed and reported the state-of-the-art and future development of different energy technologies. The results of these studies can be found in the following reports, which were published on the last trimester of 2019 and beginning of 2020 (most of them are in Catalan):
Networks & communities
The KTT Unit manages IREC’s transverse activities within its networks and communities:
The RIS3CAT Energy Community
IREC is leading the RIS3CAT Energy Community since 2016 as part of the Catalan regional smart specialization strategy (RIS3CAT) developed in the framework the European Research Innovation Strategy for Smart Specialization (RIS3). The RIS3CAT Energy Community aims at improving competitiveness and specialization of the Catalan energy sector with the participation of the most relevant Catalan energy stakeholders (the so-called quadruple helix: industry, research and academia, public sector, end users and consumers). The RIS3CAT Energy Community is a €9M action plan (2015-2019) focused on developing 3 large R&D and 4 innovation projects with more than 35 partners and 80 associates around 3 priority lines: low carbon technologies (LCT), energy efficiency (EE) and smart grids (SG).
The RIS3CAT Energy Community projects are:
- Refer (COMSA, R&D): Flexibility and energy reduction in buildings rehabilitation to get near zero energy emission buildings.
- NAenCAT (Electra Caldense, R&D): New Technologies to increase observability, security and flexibility of the electric grid in Catalonia.
- CoSin (Naturgy, R&D): Development of new fuels, through fuel synthesis and electrolysis.
- Flexedinet (Inergy, Innovation): Information system for energy saving, flexibility and optimization of the use and demand of energy in buildings.
- MicroTIC (ARC BCN, innovation): Creation of new products and business models to offer energy efficiency solutions to SMEs.
- Estorelot (iGRID/Emelcat, innovation): Integration of distributed energy resources (DER) and energy storage to improve the management of renewable energy power plants.
- LCA Enerboost (Inèdit, innovation): Development of a new tool to boost the energy sector sustainability.
The Energy for Society (XRE4S) Network
The Energy for Society R&D Network (XRE4S) was created in 2018 as a continuation and expansion of the Advanced Materials for Energy Network (XaRMAE) which was operating since 2004. The objective of the network is to boost the success of technology transfer activities and increase the industrial and social impact of energy research activities in Catalonia.
The XRE4S is coordinated by IREC and composed of 35 research groups from universities (UB, UPC, UdL, UdG, URL-La Salle, UVic), research institutions (BSC, CIMNE, CSIC, ICN2, ICIQ, IREC) and technological centers (Eurecat). In total, the network is made up of more than 500 researchers and 20 FTE working in low carbon technologies, energy efficiency and smart grids. Strategic alliances have been set up with the Catalonia Energy Cluster (industry relationship), InnoEnergy (innovation and entrepreneurship), DEMETER Capital (investors) and Barcelona ACTIVA (training).
The five years’ work programme of the XRE4S focuses on technology transfer actions, valorization programmes, networking, capacity building and training activities for researchers.