Barcelona Supercomputing Center - Centro Nacional de Supercomputación (BSC)

Barcelona Supercomputing Center (BSC) is the national supercomputing centre in Spain. BSC specialises in High Performance Computing (HPC) and its mission is two-fold: to provide infrastructure and supercomputing services to European scientists, and to generate knowledge and technology to transfer to business and society.

BSC is a Severo Ochoa Center of Excellence and a first level hosting member of the European research infrastructure PRACE (Partnership for Advanced Computing in Europe). BSC also manages the Spanish Supercomputing Network (RES).

BSC is a consortium formed by the Ministry of Economy, Industry and Competitiveness of the Spanish Government, the Business and Knowledge Department of the Catalan Government  and the Universitat Politecnica de Catalunya – BarcelonaTech.

Key Facts of BSC

49
Horizon 2020 projects awarded as of 31 December 2016.
73.2%
Ratio of funding from external, competitive sources.
217
Predoctoral and postdoctoral researchers in the institution during year 2016.
379.5
Processor computing time allocated in year 2016.

 

The SO award's impact on BSC Technology Transfer

Many entrepreneurs say that the most difficult challenge they face is not coming up with the idea but instead starting, making it a reality. Putting aside their fears and going for it. When there are ideas, desire and the environment is favorable, as in the case of Barcelona, then there are all the necessary ingredients to make the hopes and dreams of many entrepreneurs come true.

In the sphere of public research centers, technology transfer is vitally important, as the results obtained by scientists must feed back into the business world and public authorities to create wealth and social welfare, strengthening the country's competitiveness internationally.

At Barcelona Supercomputing Center – Centro Nacional de Supercomputación (BSC) we are convinced that the research of excellence carried out at our center must also be relevant. In other words, there must be expectations of applying it in our society. Our overall mission is research, managing a major institution and also transferring technology and knowledge in high performance computing (HPC) so as to aid progress in various scientific fields.

In 2011, BSC, together with other Spanish research centers, received the Severo Ochoa seal, accrediting us as a center of excellence. Four years later, the Government renewed this recognition and that allowed us to set up the Technology Transfer unit. This unit provides support for researchers in a wide range of fields through means such as protecting their results, negotiating licenses and creating tech companies, as well as finding financing to carry out the necessary development to commercialize the results, conducting market analysis, creating the business plan and establishing initial contacts with industry. Thanks to this ongoing effort, BSC now has a portfolio of 18 patents already granted or applied for and more than 90 pieces of software in operation (the majority of which are open source). It collaborates with more than 140 companies, including bilateral projects and collaboration with research consortia.

One of the areas in which we have invested the most is in setting up companies based on the knowledge generated at our center. In fact, since the technology transfer unit was set up, four spin-offs have been created. BSC's first spin-off was Nostrum BioDiscovery (conceived by the researcher Víctor Guallar), which was launched in July 2015 with the aim of increasing productivity and efficiency in the discovery of drugs and molecules. Nostrum BioDiscovery was possible thanks to the transfer of four technologies by IRB, BSC, the University of Nottingham, the University of Barcelona, ICREA and FECYT, with strategic and financial support from the Botín Foundation.  The company brings together cutting-edge IT tools, calculation power and research excellence, and now employs seven people.

Nostrum BioDiscovery went through a long and complicated development process, as it was the first company to come out of a young center with no experience in this field, which is legally complex: it is not easy for a state-owned consortium to set up a new company. However, the experience was very useful and this together with the Technology Transfer office sparked our researchers' interest in technology transfer. As a result, in 2018 three new spin-offs with varied business focuses have been created.

Mitiga Solutions, headed by the researcher Dr. Alejandro Martí, offers "software as a service” solutions to deal with volcanic eruptions. BSC and UPC have transferred it technology capable of assessing and mitigating the impact of these natural phenomena on air traffic control. There is a market for the technology developed by Mitiga in the aviation industry (airlines, airports), aeronautical engine suppliers and insurance companies.

Elem Biotech, which was started by the researcher Mariano Vázquez, focuses on modelling the respiratory and cardiovascular systems thanks to the transfer of ALYA technology from BSC, UPC and CSIC. In the long run, this technology will make it possible to expand the scope to other organs and systems in the human body.

Nearby Computing, thought up by the researcher David Carrera, focuses on developing advanced services to orchestrate mass deployment of the Internet of Things (IoT). BSC and UPC have already transferred technology to it and are working on the transfer of two further patents together with management software. These services allow companies and public authorities to automate complex cutting-edge computing processes for the Internet of Things and 5G networks.

The Severo Ochoa seal of excellence has provided great support for BSC to be able to promote, respond and give shape to the entrepreneurial spirit of our researchers. Proof of this is that the embryos of three future spin-offs are currently being developed, which we hope will see the light in the not-too-distant future. We have also set up the “Innovation Journey”, a training program designed for BSC researchers with an entrepreneurial spirit who want to learn more about the main tools that will help them commercialize their technology.

Our medium-term objective in the field of technology transfer is to continue to promote the adoption of new supercomputing technologies by Spanish businesses. There are many projects and initiatives that BSC is supporting to strengthen relations with local business: active involvement in brokerage of the Mobile World Congress, IoT, Smart City Expo, and the Transfiere forum. We have also signed agreements with business associations such as Foment del Treball, CECOT and PIMEC to organize working sessions to make known the technological portfolio that BSC can offer these associations' members. Moreover, the technology transfer area is actively taking part in European projects that identify the needs of different industrial sectors through the Industrial Advisory Board. This intense technology transfer activity that we are now capable of carrying out owes much to the boost we were given by the Seal of Excellence.

“The SO-MM programme will help us to give visibility to outstanding research and its contribution to society and to facilitate the collaboration between centers of excellence to achieve great challenges and tackle projects that require joining forces and wills”.

Mateo Valero

Mateo Valero

Director at BSC

Articles from Barcelona Supercomputing Center - Centro Nacional de Supercomputación (BSC)