Sergio Ponsá: "The BETA aims to carry out high quality research aimed at the surrounding area, rather than grow in resources"14.11.2019The BETA Technology Centre (Biodiversity, Ecology and Technology, and Environmental and Food Management) at the University of Vic - Central University of Catalonia (UVic-UCC) has experienced exponential growth in just five years, since its inauguration on 14 November 2014. From initial revenues amounting to less than 200,000 euros, it will end 2019 with more than 1.3 million euros, and more than 2 million euros are forecast for 2020. The centre allocates these sums to "increasingly higher quality science, research and innovation," based on criteria of environmental sustainability, and work in the fields of the food industry and the environment.
These developments were presented this morning by Sergio Ponsá, director of the BETA Technology Centre, at the press conference held at the UVic-UCC Rector's Office to mark the research centre's fifth anniversary. "Our aim is not to grow in terms of numbers, but to consolidate our centre's model and high quality research that brings competitiveness and benefits to the surrounding area," Ponsá explained, and said that "quantitative growth is a consequence of the work done" in three fields of expertise: the development of environmental technologies and sustainability; the mitigation of ecological impacts and the conservation of aquatic and terrestrial biodiversity; and agrarian and agro-industrial systems.
In terms of its personnel, the centre began with 2 doctors and 3 technicians, and today its team amounts to 40 people, of whom 22 are doctors. Just over half of this team consists of people from Catalonia, while the rest come from elsewhere in Spain and other countries in Europe, Asia, Africa and South America, as well as the United States.
According to Ponsá, the keys to these achievements have been undertaking in "highly competitive research that is focused on the real needs of society, which has positioned us internationally, which means we are able to innovate in the territory, with local companies and institutions," with which "it is important to have a relationship of trust because they can genuinely convey the real needs of each sector."
Participation in fifteen European projects and coordinators of five
One of the goals of the CT BETA over the past five years has been to "establish links and create a powerful working network" with leading European organisations, institutions and companies in their areas of expertise. This has led it to participate in a total of 15 European research projects in leading programmes including Horizon 2020, Life, Interreg and ENI CBC MED, and it has acted as coordinator in five of them.
Some of these projects were outlined at this morning's press conference, such as Life DEMINE, which has a total budget of 2,184,632 euros, and aims to address "the problems of environmental pollution, especially in rivers, caused by abandoned salt and metal mines by developing an innovative technology based on membrane and electrocoagulation processes", explained the deputy director of the CT BETA, Laia Llenas. "The results of the project could provide possible solutions to the environmental and ecological impacts of salt and potash mines in Central Catalonia."
The technology centre's projects also include the ENI CBC MED DECOST, which is now being launched with a total budget of more than 3 million euros. Its objective is to implement "a new management framework for urban organic waste, involving community composting systems integrated with urban agriculture" and to "close the management cycle of this fraction in municipalities." The project, involving countries located along the entire Mediterranean coast, will have two pilot tests in Osona.
The press conference also presented the project H2020 FERTIMANURE (8,419,670 million euros), in which BETA is coordinating 21 partners in order to "develop, integrate, test and validate new strategies for recovering nutrients from livestock manure, to obtain tailor-made biological fertilisers that can compete in today's fertilisers market"; and Interreg MED Green Growth," a thematic community of 14 projects promoting sustainable development in the Mediterranean, which recently received recognition from the Union for the Mediterranean."
In Catalonia, the CT BETA is a member of the TECNIO Catalonia network, has 15 knowledge transfer projects under way in the country (which amounts to more than 50 over the past 5 years), is involved in several clusters, and works with five ministries of the Government of Catalonia, as well as with other Catalan government bodies. Based on these figures, Sergio Ponsá acknowledged that "when we started, we could not in our wildest dreams have imagined reaching the point we are at now, and particularly in such a short time."
The spearhead for research at UVic-UCC
The vice-rector for Research and Knowledge Transfer at UVic-UCC, Jordi Collet, explained that the creation of the BETA in 2014 was the result of a "very clear commitment but also an uncertain one, to the research that the University did a decade ago and which has provided very good results." Today (in the 2018-2019 academic year), the BETA Technology Centre accounts for 54% of the competitive funds obtained by the institution in research. The vice-rector emphasised "its major territorial impact, which enables UVic-UCC to support and contribute to addressing important and worrying challenges in the territory, such as climate change and the management of water and slurry."
UVic-UCC is organising a symposium on the environmental impact of abandoned mines on aquatic ecosystems11.11.2019Effluents from abandoned mines may contain high concentrations of heavy metals or salts, which leak through the soil and end up in rivers, where they have a significant impact on the biodiversity and functioning of those ecosystems. The primary objective of the LIFE DEMINE European project, coordinated by the BETA Technology Centre of the University of Vic - Central University of Catalonia (UVic-UCC) is to reduce the impact of these mining effluents by means of a new treatment that will be applied before they reach the river. As part of this project, the research centre is organising a multidisciplinary symposium to address this environmental problem.
The symposium on "Abandoned mines and aquatic ecosystems: the current situation, environmental impacts and possible treatments" will take place in the Segimon Serrallonga hall at the Masia Torre dels Frares on the Vic campus, from 9 am to 2.30 pm on Wednesday 13 November. The morning session will consist of a dozen talks that address three major issues: the current situation and public management of abandoned mines; environmental impacts on aquatic ecosystems; and possible treatments for pollutant mining effluents. The speakers will be representatives of government bodies, scientists and technicians from water treatment companies from all over Spain and Europe.
Attendance at the symposium is free, but registration through the project's website is required before 10 November. The website also contains detailed information on the programme of the event. The activity is aimed above all at environmental managers, researchers and specialist technicians.
A new treatment to reduce environmental impacts
The LIFE DEMINE project, which began in 2017 and will continue until 2021, aims to demonstrate that reducing the overall environmental impact of abandoned mines on aquatic ecosystems is technically and economically viable. To that end, it is developing an innovative and versatile treatment process involving technologies based on membranes and electrocoagulation, with the overall aim of obtaining final effluents that are non-polluting.
Using this new method, the water will first be treated with a membrane system which has different filtration capacities, and therefore different capacities for retaining contaminating particles. The aim of the process is to concentrate the polluting effluent, which subsequently undergoes an electrocoagulation process, which will lead to an even higher level of concentration. In overall terms, the system will reduce the salt and metal content of mining effluents by more than 95%, obtaining treated water that can be poured into the river with no risk to the ecosystem, complying with the legal limits established by legislation and ensuring a low level of environmental impact. So far, the proposed technology has been tested in the laboratory, and obtained very promising results. The pilot plant is currently being prepared, and is going to come into operation in the coming months in an abandoned mine in Wales, which generates effluents with high concentrations of heavy metals.
The objective is to demonstrate and validate the success of the solution, so that it can be easily replicated in any environment with the same environmental problem. For example, in Catalonia there are the salt and potash mines at Cardona, Súria and Sallent, with environments that are severely affected by this problem, where an efficient solution is urgently needed. There are also numerous cases of abandoned mines elsewhere in Spain, such as the coal mines in Asturias. There are currently around 3,460 closed and abandoned facilities containing mining waste in the European Union, according to figures from the European Commission.
Life DEMINE has received European Union funding through its Life programme, and has an overall budget of 2,184,632 Euros. Four other partners as well as the BETA Technology Centre are involved: the University of Swansea (United Kingdom), ELENTEC LTD, a company specialising in water treatment technologies (United Kingdom), the Groundwater Studies Centre in Dresden (Germany), and the Government of the Principality of Asturias(Spain).
Download the detailed programme of the symposium
A study identifies knowledge gaps crucial for addressing the causes of biodiversity loss08.11.2019International sustainability policies establish clear goals for protecting ecosystems and biodiversity, but in practice it is difficult to achieve those objectives, and the loss of biodiversity continues to be a source of major concern. This context is the starting point for a new study published last Monday by the scientific journal Nature Sustainability, which identifies the need for greater understanding of environmental governance, institutional arrangements and the feedbacks between social and ecological systems, in order to overcome the loss of biodiversity.
The project was led by Matias Mastrangelo, researcher at the National University of Mar del Plata in Argentina, and is also authored by Elisa Oteros-Rozas, a Juan de la Cierva researcher of the Chair in Agroecology and Food Systems at the University of Vic - Central University of Catalonia (UVic-UCC). The new study, carried out by an international team of 32 experts, identifies the main knowledge gaps that must be addressed to deal with the fundamental causes of the loss of biodiversity, and calls for research aimed at finding solutions to the socio-ecological crisis.
To that end, it discusses seven recent assessments made by the scientific-regulatory body IPBES, the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services. These evaluations "summarise our current knowledge about the relationship between society and nature, including the role of people in the management of ecosystems to provide benefits to people," explains Elisa Oteros-Rozas. According to the researcher, the IPBES reports are "a critical tool for information, for both formulating evidence-based policies and establishing scientific research agendas."
The authors compared the knowledge gaps identified in the IPBES reports with the key international sustainability goals established by the United Nations in order to achieve the Aichi Targets for Biological Biodiversity, agreed in 2010 within the framework of the Convention on Biological Diversity and the Sustainable Development Goals.
Effective, fair and inclusive strategies
"We found that global sustainability goals cannot be achieved without improved knowledge on feedbacks between social and ecological systems, and on effective governance systems and institutions that can equitably deliver ecosystem services and protect vulnerable people," explains Matias Mastrangelo. The director of the study says that "we need to identify management and policy strategies for ecosystems and biodiversity that are effective, just, inclusive and promote good quality of life."
The analysis concludes that "some progress has been made to remedy the knowledge gaps previously identified in the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment of 2005, including a better understanding of the long-term trends in ecological change," explains Oteros-Rozas. However, "some knowledge gaps persist after decades of research, and new ones have emerged."
"We've made great strides forward in global assessments. But the most urgent research gap hasn't changed since 2005: we need effective strategies to meet our sustainability goals," adds the co-author Elena Bennett, a lecturer at the McGill School of Environment (Canada). "In this latest assessment, the role of indigenous and local knowledge to sustain nature's benefits to people has emerged as a key knowledge gap," explains Bennett, who says that "now we need to get those with deep expertise in social change and governance to the table, including local actors and decision makers."
New ways of assessing human welfare and the protection of biodiversity
The assessment by the IPBES reflects a growing consensus on the need for new ways of assessing both human welfare and the protection of biodiversity. Kimberly Nicholas, another of the authors and a lecturer in sustainability studies at the University of Lund (Sweden), points out that "mark an paradigm emerging shift: the emphasis we found on the importance of human values and institutions puts people at the heart of nature protection," which is why "we need new ways to value human and natural well-being, beyond defining a good life based just on gross domestic product."
Finally, the authors argue that the knowledge gaps they have identified must be an important contribution to the new global biodiversity goals to be adopted in the United Nations Framework Convention on Biodiversity by 2020. "All the actors involved must urgently focus on improving knowledge about the gaps identified, especially in regions where it is currently lacking," says Natalia Pérez-Harguindeguy, a lecturer at the Universidad Nacional in Córdoba (Argentina) and a co-author of the study. "The future of humanity depends on how we respond to the current socio-ecological crisis," he concludes.
Study: "Key knowledge gaps to achieve global sustainability goals" in Nature Sustainability (DOI: 10.1038/s41893-019-0412-1)
The UVic-UCC University Senate endorses the manifesto ratified by some universities rejecting the sentencing of the Spanish Supreme Court04.11.2019The University Senate of the University of Vic - Central University of Catalonia (UVic-UCC) has voted to endorse the joint manifesto of some Catalan universities rejecting the convictions of Catalan political prisoners and the judicialisation of politics, with 223 votes in favour, 10 votes against and 8 blank ballots. The text of the manifesto, which was presented to the Board of Governors by the representative of the Administrative and Service Staff (ASS), Josep Bisquert, states that it is impossible for the university as an institution to remain silent "in view of the current situation of repression and erosion of freedoms and civil rights," calls for the "immediate release of people who have been unfairly convicted, and the return of those in exile," and expresses support for "civic and peaceful demonstrations" in favour of civil rights and freedom for those who have been convicted.
The manifesto, which recalls that the statutes of universities advocate "freedom, democracy, justice, equality and solidarity," also rejects repression and police violence, and expresses the conviction that "in a mature democratic culture, dialogue is the only way to resolve conflicts and political differences."
This manifesto was issued after the Board of the Rectorate issued a statement on Tuesday, which expressed its "disagreement" with the convictions, and which also called upon all those involved to "create a space for dialogue based on trust, to solve a problem that should never have left the political arena." Last Friday, the Board of the Rector's Office and the Deans of UVic-UCC agreed to provide flexible conditions for students in terms of compulsory attendance and activities subject to assessment until 10 November.
Alícia Casals - the new ombudswoman
The University Senate, which met on Tuesday afternoon in the Aula Magna at UVic, also approved the candidacy of the lecturer of the Polytechnic University of Catalonia (UPC) Alícia Casals as the new ombudswoman, replacing the current Ombudsman, Antoni Serra Ramoneda, who had held the position since 2013. The Board of Trustees of the Balmes University Foundation will now appoint her at its next meeting.
Meanwhile, Ana Palomo, a lecturer in the Faculty of Business and Communication Studies (FEC), and Lluís Jurada, of the ICT Area, will be the new representatives of the teaching and research staff on the Board of Trustees of the Balmes University Foundation and of the administrative and service staff on the Board of Governors of UVic-UCC, respectively, replacing Ángel Torres and Josep Bisquert, who have completed their terms.
In his opening speech, the rector Josep-Eladi Baños described the main projects and objectives in the areas of research, teaching, teaching staff and governance for the 2019-2020 academic year. As regards governance, he stressed the importance of the imminent approval of the new Organisational and Operational Regulations (OOR) agreed upon by the Balmes and Bages University Foundations, in order to "bring the community together and foster integrated actions between the two foundations."
The ninth R+D+I ICT Health and Social Seminars will feature more than 20 multidisciplinary speakers who are leaders in virtual and augmented reality17.10.2019El Sucre building in Vic will host the ninth R+D+I ICT Health and Social Seminar, the fourth to be held in the capital of the Osona region, which is entitled "Virtual and augmented reality: the technology that is transforming the present". The UVic-UCC and the ITC Health Social Foundation, with other healthcare institutions, are organising seminars over the coming days that are expected to be attended by more than 170 people, and most of them are healthcare and technology professionals. This year, the theme will be virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR), which is becoming another major technology in the healthcare field. Unlike previous years, registration is free, and must be arranged by 20 October via the following link.
The seminars will once again last one day, and aim to highlight the utilities and potential of VR/AR applied to health, to present projects that are already under way in various healthcare institutions all over the country, and to create a forum for dialogue between health professionals, companies and government bodies to assess how virtual reality can be incorporated in this field. The Seminars are also a leading platform for knowledge transfer, which contributes to aligning the fields of research and innovation, business and healthcare for convergence on solutions with greater added value. According to Marina Geli, director of the Centre for Health and Social Care Research at the UVic-UCC, "these seminars give added value to the territory, to the Catalan health sector, to teaching and businesses in an area that is not a window on the future, but is in fact the present reality."
Seminars with leading professionals
The seminars will begin at 9 am with the speech by the General Secretary of the Ministry of Health of the Government of Catalonia, Laura Pelay, the rector of the UVic-UCC, Josep-Eladi Baños, and a representative of Vic Town Council. This will be followed by a presentation by the Catalan Virtual Reality/Augmented Reality Health interest group, an initiative which according to the corporate development director of the ITC Health and Social Foundation and coordinator of the ITC Social Health Chair at the UVic-UCC, Sílvia Cufí, "aims to lay the foundations for promoting technologies in this field and evaluating how to apply them to health, so that the majority of the stakeholders in the territory can actively participate. In short, we want to bring together the various initiatives, professionals and managers in order to join forces and foster innovation among the different institutions in the ecosystem in order to examine how to implement them all over the country in a sustainable and integrated way."
This will be followed by the first framework lecture, which is entitled "Immersive Experiences in the Health and Social Sector: Present and Future," and will be given by Xavi Conesa and Jaume Vaccaro, from the company Visyon 360. This is a leading company in conducting scientific research to understand the workings of the brain using virtual reality and from there, designing practical solutions to improve health. The company is also working on social innovation projects to make positive changes to society in health, education and the environment, among other areas.
The application of virtual reality in the major Catalan hospitals
The Seminars, which will be led by the journalist Núria Jar, will also present solutions for the practical application of VR and AR in Catalan health institutions, involving projects by Sant Joan de Déu Hospital, the Consorci Sanitari Integral, the Hospital Clínic in Barcelona, Parc Taulí, Vall d'Hebron Hospital and the Guttmann Institute. The lecture on "Augmented Reality vs. Virtual reality," by Jordi Boza from EyeTechLab, will show us the differences between the two technologies, and the advantages and/or disadvantages of working with each one. For example, EyeTechLab works with Sony, supplying its technology in augmented reality devices.
In the afternoon, there will be a second framework lecture entitled "How 5G will impact on VR/AR." This presentation will be given by Sergi Figuerola of i2CAT and the 5GBCN project, a public-private initiative that is working to transform the Barcelona metropolitan area into an open laboratory across the entire city for validating and adopting 5G technologies. He will be joined by Dr Borja de Lacy, a surgeon at the Hospital Clínic and member of AIS Channel, a company working on telecare, i.e. remote mentoring or care. The final activity in the seminars will be the public-private Dialogues on "From the clinical need to collaboration with the start-up", with the experience of the spin-off project leaders Virtual Bodyworks, Nixi for Children, Psious and Biel Glasses. The institutional closing ceremony of this ninth seminar will take place at 5.30 pm.
The UVic-UCC is organising the seminars through the ITC Health and Social Chair, promoted by the ICT Social Health Foundation and the UVic-UCC, linked to the Centre for Health and Social Care Research (CESS), as well as the ICT Social Health Foundation, the Hospital Consortium of Vic, the Catalan Health Institute, the Santa Creu de Vic Hospital Foundation, the EBA Vic, the EBA Centelles and the Althaia Foundation. Other partners include the Government of Catalonia, Vic Town Council, the Chair in Social Services and the Faculty of Medicine of the UVic-UCC, COPLEFEC, M4Social and the committee of third sector institutions in Catalonia as strategic partners, and the technical office of the Osona Foundation for Health Research and Education (FORES). Finally, the event is sponsored by companies including SEIDOR, the seminar's platinum sponsor, and other companies such as ISERN, Lenovo, Athenea Solutions (MedXat), who will also be participating.
Statement by the Board of the Rector's Office of UVic-UCC15.10.2019At its meeting today, on Tuesday 15 October, the Board of the Rector's Office of University of Vic - Central University of Catalonia (UVic-UCC), wishes to express its disagreement with the ruling of the Spanish Supreme Court. It regrets that prison sentences have been the response to a problem that is of a political rather than a legal nature. It would also like to express its sympathy and solidarity with the imprisoned political and social leaders and their families, and its support for our colleague, Meritxell Borràs, who has also been the victim of the arbitrary nature of the judges' decisions.
UVic-UCC is made up of people with diverse ideological perspectives where respect and the defence of dialogue and confrontation of ideas prevails above all else. The value of words for knowledge and the development of critical reasoning are also fostered by all of its governing bodies. Accordingly, it calls on all those concerned to create a space for dialogue with trust, in order to resolve a problem that should never have left the political arena.
Neurekalab - a spin-off of UB and UVic-UCC to improve learning and reduce school failure is launched10.10.2019Attention, reading and writing skills, working memory, numerical processing and calculation are key cognitive processes in learning. Poor performance in these areas is related to school failure, and although Spain is one of the three European countries with the highest school failure rates, there are currently few scientifically validated methods for early detection in these processes. The researchers Josep Maria Serra-Grabulosa, of the Department of Clinical Psychology and Psychobiology of the University of Barcelona (UB), and Sergi Grau, Dean of the Faculty of Sciences and Technology of University of Vic - Central University of Catalonia (UVic- UCC), identified this lack of methods and decided to create Neurekalab, a spin-off in which the two universities are shareholders, and which was established in order to develop and market digital tools to enable users to improve their learning and to prevent school failure. "For some years, scientific studies have shown that detecting learning difficulties and early intervention to work on them improves these children's prognosis. This led us to develop tools that enabled us first, to identify learning difficulties in the classroom at an early stage; and second, to create tools to be able to intervene in an appealing way," explains Dr Serra-Grabulosa.
The researchers have developed two digital products - one for detection and the other for intervention - which are integrated onto a single web platform and are accessible from any computer with an Internet connection: Di-test, a battery of digital tests that detects early learning difficulties and has been tested with more than 1,500 children in Catalonia; and Nummerus, which automates numerical processing and provides challenges of increasing difficulty, which has been created in order to re-educate all children with dyscalculia, i.e. numbers dyslexia, and to improve and facilitate maths learning. "The use of technology must enable content to be personalised, but above all it must allow children to see it as a game. The combination of the two things increases adherence to the treatments and their effectiveness," explains Dr Grau.
These tools are designed to be used both in schools and by clinical psychology and educational psychology professionals. The spin-off will also provide an app for families who want to reinforce their children's maths learning during a specific timeframe. "Our idea is not only to detect learning difficulties, but also to enable healthcare and education professionals to determine each child's strengths and weaknesses in order to improve the personalisation of the learning process," concludes Dr Serra-Grabulosa.
The Bosch i Gimpera Foundation is the technology transfer and innovation transfer unit at the University of Barcelona. It is responsible for transferring the results of research at the UB to society by establishing spin-offs, licensing patents, and by means of contracts with companies and institutions, thereby contributing to the competitiveness of the business fabric and to the improvement of social welfare. 789 projects were managed in 2018, and contracts amounted to 32.67 million Euros. 41 technologies were licensed and 7 spin-offs established during the period between 2016 and 2018.
University of Vic - Central University of Catalonia (UVic-UCC) is a university with a municipal and national board of trustees, with a commitment to the public realm, governed by the Balmes University Foundation, which provides public services in the areas of teaching, research and knowledge transfer. The Manresa campus has been part of UVic since 2014 as a result of the federation between the Balmes University Foundation and the Bages University Foundation. It also has facilities in Granollers and in Barcelona. 30 research groups recognised by the Government of Catalonia, and 10 chairs engaged in research at UVic-UCC are clearly focused on generating knowledge and transferring it to society.
The BETA Technology Centre will coordinate a European project to convert livestock manure into biofertilisers01.10.2019Livestock farms in Europe generate about 1400 Mt of manure every year. More than 90% of this is returned to crops in the form of fertilizers. However, the use of this livestock manure as agricultural fertilisers is often inefficient or sufficiently controlled, which leads to a problem of a concentration of slurry, which reduces crop yields and pollutes both soil and water. The FERTIMANURE research project will address this problem by developing innovative technologies that will turn livestock manure into high value added biofertilisers.
The BETA (Biodiversity, Ecology and Environmental and Food Technology) Technology Centre at University of Vic - Central University of Catalonia (UVic-UCC) will be coordinating this project, which is funded as part of the Horizon 2020 call for societal challenges, one of the most competitive in this European Union framework programme. The FERTIMANURE project lasts four years, will officially begin on 1 January 2020 and has a total budget of 8 million Euros, of which 1.03 Euros will be allocated to the BETA TC, which will coordinate a consortium of 21 members.
Biological fertilisers, tailor-made and competitive
FERTIMANURE will work to develop biological fertilisers (or biofertilisers) from livestock manure, which will be tailor-made for specific crops and competitive in today's market. The objective is to find "a sustainable solution to the problem of livestock manure, one of the most important at both Catalan and European level, by transforming this waste into high value-added products," explains Laia Llenas, the assistant director of CT BETA and coordinator of the project. According to Llenas, the project is "the only one on this scale financed at a European level and focusing on the recovery of livestock manure and the recovery of nutrients" which in addition, "will address the current barriers in the biofertilisers market both from a legislative point of view and in terms of public acceptance."
For this reason, during the four years that the project is underway, it will work in two broad areas: first, on developing technologies and processes that enable new biofertilisers to be obtained, and second, on creating the business plans that will enable them to be marketed and made available to the end users, i.e. livestock farmers. The project will also focus on questions such as whether farmers can treat manure on the farm for their own use, whether external plants should do this, or whether in an intermediate process, it can be initially treated on the farm before being transferred to the fertiliser plant. At the same time, it will assess the economic sustainability that it will have for farmers, and compare the agronomic quality between the new products developed and commercial fertilisers currently available.
A demonstration pilot project at a farm in the Osona region
FERTIMANURE is a consortium consisting of twenty European members and one Argentinian member, which together cover the entire value chain from livestock farmers to fertiliser production companies, by way of leading European universities and research centres, government agencies, clusters and associations which according to Llenas, "ensure that the results of the project can be replicated in several places, increasing its impact."
In Catalonia alone, the project will have a budget of almost 2 million Euros for a demonstration pilot for the recovery of slurry and poultry litter. This pilot will be located in the Osona region, on one of the farms of the Cooperativa Plana de Vic, which is also a member of FERTIMANURE, and will be run by the BETA TC and the Leitat Technology Centre.
Catalan leadership in the biofertilisers field
The Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Fishing and Food (MALFFF) of the Government of Catalonia is also involved in the project. "Leadership from Catalonia is crucial for our region to position itself and become a benchmark in the field of biofertilisers at a European level," says Sergio Ponsá, director of the BETA Technology Centre. In fact, new European legislation on fertilisers will enter into force in only two years time, and under those circumstances, "coordinating from a project of this magnitude from here will place Catalonia in a privileged position in terms of addressing those changes."
The members of FERTIMANURE include the most important and internationally recognised research groups in the field of livestock manure and fertilisers, including the University of Wageningen, the University of Ghent, the University of Milan and the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft in Germany. Government agencies are also involved, including the French Chamber of Agriculture, the fertilizer companies association Fertilizers Europe, and companies such as Fertinagro Biotech and AlgaEnergy.
According to Ponsá, one of the European Commission's objectives with the launch of FERTIMANURE is "to obtain essential information and results for the development of future strategies and regulations related to sustainable livestock management and production in Europe." It also aims to "increase the competitiveness of the livestock sector and the production of biofertilisers," and to "reduce the dependence of nutrients from other countries."