Catalonia develops the first contact lenses which impede the onset of myopia

March 7, 2016 07:04 PM | ACN

Dr. Jaume Pauné of the Universitat Politècninca de Catalunya has devised a new type of progressive contact lens, the first of its kind. These contact lenses actually slow the onset of myopia, or near-sightedness, by as much as 43%. Wearing the lenses, which have already been tested and are available for purchase, brings about a decrease of three to five dioptres in the user. This technology is especially recommended for children and youths, as the progression of myopia manifests itself primarily between the ages of nine and 30. However, wearing the contact lenses would be beneficial to any adults suffering from progressive myopia. These lenses are unique in that they influence one´s peripheral vision as well as their central vision, and they do not function using a bifocal system as conventional lenses do. 

3 Catalan universities and 3 colleges among world's best, according to QS and Times rankings

April 30, 2015 08:58 PM | ACN

The 2015 QS World University Rankings by Subject has ranked Barcelona’s Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya (UPC) 22nd in the world in the field of Architecture and 35th in Civil and Structural Engineering. According to the same prestigious ranking, the University of Barcelona (UB) performs well too, ranking as one of the top 50 globally in Philosophy and among the top 200 in 27 of the 36 subject areas. Moreover, The Times Higher Education 100 Under 50 Rankings 2015 lists three Catalan universities - Pompeu Fabra University (UPF) in Barcelona; the Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB); and Rovira i Virgili University (URV) in Tarragona– among the top 100 universities worldwide under 50 years old.

Bachelor's degrees to last 3 years instead of 4: new university reform stirs Catalan students' anger

April 7, 2015 06:03 PM | Valentina Marconi

In times of shrinking public funding, higher tuition fees and fewer scholarships, a controversial new university reform has been approved by the Spanish Government. The so-called "flexibilisation" of Bachelor's degrees or the "3+2" system has been introduced, provoking a wave of protests and criticism across the university community. The new reform allows universities to choose an undergraduate programme length that ranges from 3 to 4 years, abandoning the 4-year scheme adopted in 2010. Then, a one- or two-year Master's will follow. Many fear that it will devaluate undergraduate degrees, obliging students to undertake a Master’s in order to find a decent job. Moreover, as postgraduate tuition fees are substantially higher, some think that the overall price of education is likely to rise, pushing the Spanish university system towards the US model. Other arguments against the reform are: the lack of democratic discussion on the new text, the temporal proximity of the previous reform and the potential increase in disorder within the system.

Entrepreneurship in Catalan universities on the rise despite obstacles

March 5, 2015 12:58 PM | Laura Aznar / Martín González

Entrepreneurship in Catalan universities is not as common as in the United States, but that is starting to change. The Online University of Catalonia (UOC) along with the Polytechnic University of Catalonia (UPC) have a stand at 4YFN, a parallel event to the Mobile World Congress, which is the main international event of the cell-phone-related industries, and which has taken place in Barcelona every year since 2006. 4YFN is focused on small companies that build internet services, the so-called ‘start-ups’. For years, universities have run offices dedicated to helping students and teachers to create a business, but the struggle to find investment and difficulties in setting up a business are still the major complaints of young entrepreneurs.

European Space Agency opens its tenth Business Incubation Centre, located in Greater Barcelona

November 27, 2014 10:47 PM | ACN

The European Space Agency (ESA) has opened in Catalonia an incubator for businesses working on space technologies, the first of its kind in Spain. It is located in the campus that the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya (UPC) has in Castelldelfels, a coastal town next to Barcelona El Prat Airport. The incubator is located in the RDIT building of UPC, in what is known as the Energy Campus, and will take up 1,000m2 of space. There are currently four companies installed in the centre, whose operations are centred on "drones" and satellite communication. The project expects to host some 40 companies from now on until 2018. This is the tenth "Business Incubation Centre" that the ESA has opened in Europe so far.

Barcelona’s Institute of Photonic Sciences is ranked first in the world in the fields of physics and astronomy

August 9, 2013 09:09 PM | ACN

The Catalan Institute of Photonic Sciences (ICFO), based in Greater Barcelona, is the highest ranked centre in the world in the fields of physics and astronomy, according to a survey carried out by Excellence Mapping. This ranking sorts the world’s leading research centres according to 17 different areas of academia. The ICFO was ranked first in physics and astronomy, while the Catalan Institute for Research and Advanced Studies (ICREA) was placed third in this category. Other Catalonia-based institutions that were included in the list were: the Institute for High Energy Physics, IFAE (18th place), the Universitat Autònoma of Barcelona (UAB) and the Polytechnic University of Barcelona (UPC). The Director of the ICFO, Lluís Torner, told the CNA that the Catalan model of research is “highly competitive”.

Australia's RMIT University opens its European campus in Barcelona

June 7, 2013 01:41 AM | CNA / Gaspar Pericay Coll

The Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, which is one of Australia’s main universities, will offer Master and PhD programmes in Barcelona. The RMIT University, which has three campuses in Melbourne and two in Vietnam, is now coming to Europe and will coordinate its activities in the continent from Barcelona. The Australian education institution will also cooperate with several Catalan universities, in particular the UPC, the UPF and ELISAVA. The Catalan Minister for Economy and Knowledge, Andreu Mas-Colell, attended the opening ceremony. He underlined that Australia’s higher education system is “the most internationalised in the world”. He also stated that the RMIT campus in Barcelona “is a bridge towards Europe, the Mediterranean Area and Latin America”.

Catalan centres are at the core of the billion-euro graphene and human brain research projects funded by the European Commission

January 30, 2013 10:17 PM | CNA / Gaspar Pericay Coll

Through its FET-Flagship programme, the European Commission is allocating €1 billion to each of the two main research projects in Europe. The first one is a project to explore the properties of graphene, a new material deriving from graphite that might revolutionise industry as silicon did a few decades ago. The second one will simulate a human brain in order to understand how it exactly works. The Catalan Institute of Nanotechnology is one of the nine leading institutes coordinating the graphene project, in which 623 research groups from 32 different countries will participate. Furthermore, the Barcelona Supercomputing Center will take care of the calculations at a molecular level in the Human Brain Project.

Catalan universities have a research model “comparable” to the most advanced EU countries

December 17, 2012 11:47 PM | CNA

A study undertaken by the Catalan Association of Public Universities shows that 64% of all funds for research came from public or private competition processes. This shows the Catalan university system’s capacity to attract this type of funds, which leads the study to conclude that the system is “solid”, “at the forefront” in Spain and “comparable” to the university systems of the most advanced EU countries. In 2012, the total budget for research in Catalonia’s public universities was €346 million, which represented 20% of their total budget.