TEN MAJOR POINTS OF IKUR STRATEGY
The IKUR strategy prioritises 4 specific areas (Neurobiosciences, Quantum Technologies, Neutrionics and HCP-AI), and is based on two key principles: the mobilisation of the excellent capacities that already exist in the country and the creation of cooperation dynamics between actors. In this way, IKUR aims to use cooperation to build up excellence, enhance value chains with impact, and consolidate a strong international position in priority areas.
The IKUR Strategy is governed as follows: the Basque Government's Department of Education as the driving force behind the strategy, a scientific coordinator for every field appointed by the Basque Government's Department of Education from top-level researchers with proven experience in scientific planning and management , Ikerbasque as the entity responsible for managing and distributing resources, and Euskampus Fundazioa as the Technical Secretariat.
The operating model of the IKUR Strategy represents a shared risk between the Government and the participating research groups and actors, in that the resources granted must be supplemented by the beneficiaries using their own funds or by accessing other funding sources.
IKUR focuses its resources on three types of support: recruiting talent, investing in equipment and infrastructures and carrying out activities/actions of interest.
The resources granted via IKUR must be fully dedicated to sustaining the activities supported.
Beneficiaries must explicitly accept such support by signing the corresponding agreement in order to access resources granted via IKUR.
Regardless of the applicant centre or where they are installed, the equipment and infrastructures supported receive the status of IKUR infrastructures. This is why access to its use will be open to all IKUR stakeholders.
The activities/actions supported must be implemented before the end of the year for which they are allocated. If this deadline is not met, the funds granted will be lost.
Regardless of the applicant centre or where the activity takes place, the implementation of these activities/actions must be duly communicated and disseminated among the participating actors who are active in IKUR so that they can take part when it makes sense to do so.
The beneficiaries of IKUR support must respond diligently to the follow-up requests of the IKUR entities in charge; it is their responsibility to communicate the impossibility of implementing the supported activities in advance and effectively once this is certain, without waiting for the deadlines to expire.
BACKGROUND: THE IKUR STRATEGY
A. Basic strategy: Mission, Objectives and Priority Areas
The IKUR 2030 Strategy was created at the end of 2020 based on the European Commission's Flagship Initiatives, and was adapted to the reality of the Basque Country, identifying and implementing the Basque Country's scientific commitments to:
• Research and training programmes of excellence
• Creating and managing cutting-edge infrastructures and equipment
• Structuring a scientific, technological and industrial community
• Providing specific resources (and targeting some of the existing ones to boost them)
The IKUR Strategy's added value is related to:
• Focusing a significant amount of resources on specific scientific fields: major scientific initiatives
• Ambition with regard to the expected results...
• ... and ability to speed up the pace (shorten the deadlines) to achieve them.
To this end, IKUR provides resources and specific investments that make it possible to shorten development times and make a truly structural leap forward, beyond mere access to existing support instruments.
The IKUR Strategy is committed to positioning the Basque Country as an international science hub of excellence by taking part in cutting-edge projects and obtaining results with a social and economic impact.
The IKUR strategy prioritises 4 specific areas: Neurobiosciences, Quantum Technologies, Neutrionics and HPC&AI, areas aligned with the RIS3 priority Furthermore, these areas have different starting points in the Basque Country, but they share two common features: they are strategic for the future of our society and we have outstanding capabilities in specific niche areas in each of them.
The strategy sets out the following objectives based on this mission and this prioritisation of areas: to attract talent, to promote the development of cutting-edge infrastructures, to position the Basque Country's scientific sector internationally and to create a pull effect on the excellent research being carried out in the Basque Country.
To this end, the IKUR strategy is based on two fundamental principles: the mobilisation of the excellent capabilities that already exist in the Basque Country and the creation of cooperation dynamics between actors. In this way, IKUR aims to use cooperation to build up excellence, enhance value chains with impact, and consolidate a strong international position in priority areas. As a result, IKUR domains will have a direct or indirect impact on all of the social and industrial competitiveness challenges defined in Horizon Europe.
The IKUR strategy has an operational model with this approach, which is adapted to the specific needs of each of the areas identified as priorities, but inspired by strategies with an international scope, such as the European flagships, from which the IKUR strategy takes its name in Basque.
B. Actors and groups involved
The community of research groups/actors mobilised by the IKUR Strategy is made up of actors with excellent capabilities in the strategic lines of action defined for each of the 4 priority areas.
This community of research groups/actors has been stable over time and aims to establish collaboration dynamics to accelerate its development, thereby facilitating the positioning of the Basque Country internationally and obtaining results with a greater impact.
These research groups and actors have been selected based on:
• Identifying outstanding existing capabilities in BERCs in relation to the priority areas.
• Mapping excellent capabilities in universities and CRCs (CICs) with respect to the lines of research that have been identified as strategic in each of the priority areas.
• Identifying specific scientific and technological capabilities to be able to respond to the projects to be undertaken; this applies particularly to Health Research Institutes and Technology Centres in the field of Neurobiosciences.
As a result, the IKUR strategy is currently building a recognisable community of excellent research groups and actors to encourage cooperation between them, incorporating other research groups and actors so as to be able to respond to specific projects and promote the creation of value chains with an impact.
In particular, from the perspective of its objective of achieving a significant economic and social impact, the IKUR community must be capable of incorporating entities and organisations from the business and healthcare spheres into its operating dynamics to make it possible to transfer the results obtained.
Therefore, the aim is for the actors to concentrate on the activities in which they specialise within the knowledge chain from basic research to implementing their results on the market, thereby creating the optimum conditions for cooperation in which to optimise the transfer of knowledge.
C. Operating model and governance
The IKUR Strategy was designed as a programme with a work time frame up to 2030. In this sense, it is a 10-year programme whose continuity and consolidation depends on periodically evaluating its results.
The following governance is in place
• The Basque Government’s Department of Education as the driving force behind the strategy.
• A scientific coordinator appointed by the Basque Government in each of the priority areas: Iban Ubarretxena Belandia (Biofisika) in the field of Neurobiosciences, Daniel Sánchez Portal (MPC) in the field of Neutrionics and
Ricardo Díez Muiño in the fields of Quantum Technologies and HPC&AI.
• Ikerbasque as the entity responsible for managing and distributing resources.
• Euskampus Fundazioa as Technical Secretariat.
D. Resource mobilisation
The IKUR Strategy has its own funding provided by the Basque Government's Department of Education. This contribution of resources is intended to be seed capital which, together with additional funding from other sources, should allow the research centres and groups taking part in IKUR to strengthen their positioning and facilitate their access to international calls and projects of note.
In this sense, the IKUR Strategy's operating model is a risk-sharing venture between the Government and the participating research groups and actors, insofar as the resources granted must be topped up with their own resources or access to other sources of funding to which these excellent research groups and actors are accustomed to successfully accessing on a regular basis
E. Identification of major milestones to date
• IKUR strategy design.
• Unique infrastructure in the field of structural biology: Cryo-EM and support tools
• Definition and implementation of governance of the IKUR strategy.
• Presentation of a map of excellent BERC capabilities and definition of the basic strategy and activation plans for IKUR’s priority areas (Neurobiosciences; Quantum Technologies; Neutrionics; HPC-AI).
• Identification of priority scientific talent and equipment and signing of 2021 agreements.
• Strengthening of the supercomputing capabilities of the DIPC (HPC Euskadi) through the construction of the ATLAS supercomputer.
• Mapping of the excellent capabilities of universities and CRCs (CICs).
• Structuring of the strategic quantum infrastructure project.
• Identification of priority scientific talent and equipment and signing of 2022 agreements.
• Launch of 2023-2024 activities, evaluation and selection of candidate projects and actors.
• First IKUR-Neutrionics science conference.
• First IKUR-Quantum Technologies science conference.
• Collaborative research building of excellence on the Ikerbasque-Korta campus in Gipuzkoa.
• Structuring of the strategic quantum infrastructure project
• Extension of the Donostia International Physics Center (DIPC) research centre of excellence.
• Strengthening of the supercomputing capabilities of the DIPC (HPC Euskadi) through the construction of the HYPERION supercomputer.
F. Identification of centres taking part in 2023
• Basque Excellence Research Centres (BERCs). Achucarro, BC3, BCBL, BCAM, BCMaterials, Biofisika, DIPC, MPC and Polymat.
• Universities UPV-EHU, UD/DU, MU, Tecnun.
• Cooperative Research Centres (CRCs). bioGUNE, biomaGUNE, energiGUNE and nanoGUNE.
• Health Research Institutes (HRIs). Biodonostia
• Technology Centres. Tecnalia.
In general terms, IKUR focuses its resources on three types of support:
• Recruiting talent.
• Investing in equipment and infrastructures.
• Carrying out activities/actions of interest for each of IKUR's priority areas based on the challenges and priorities that have been set.
The resources granted via IKUR must be fully dedicated to sustaining the activities supported and, in this sense, be decisive. That means that they should not cover overheads or similar concepts.
A. Recruiting talent
IKUR supports the recruitment of talent of different profiles: pre-doctoral research staff, post-doctoral research staff and technical staff.
Technical staff in particular are exclusively related to supporting the recruitment of specialist personnel for operating strategic equipment and infrastructures in each of the IKUR priority areas.
B. Investment in equipment and infraestructures
IKUR supports investment in equipment and infrastructures of interest in order to develop each of its priority areas through the LINKER programme.
• This equipment and infrastructures are of strategic interest to all the actors involved in IKUR.
• It is equipment and infrastructure not previously available in the science system, making it possible to carry out analyses, tests and/or trials that could not previously be performed under the conditions they provide.
• In exceptional cases, the acquisition of existing equipment is supported, when there are justified reasons of limited access and/or special features and/or conditions of use.
C. Carrying out activities/actions of interest to IKUR
IKUR supports carrying tout activities/actions of interest in each of IKUR's priority areas:
• They are conducive to achieving the objectives of the IKUR strategy.
• These activities/actions are of strategic interest to the communities involved in each of IKUR's priority areas (dissemination, awareness, mobility, internationalization, etc.).
For further information: IKUR strategy