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03/06/2020
Barcelona will be connected to one of the longest subsea fiber optic cable in the world
Last month, a joint enterprise by China Mobile International, Facebook, MTN Global Connect, Orange, STC, Telecom Egypt, Vodafone, and WIOCC announced that it will build the “most comprehensive” subsea fiber optic cable to serve the African continent and Middle East region where nearly a billion people are still offline. The project is called 2Africa.

Alcatel Submarine Networks has been appointed to build the 37,000km-cable, which will serve 16 countries in Africa and 7 in the Middle East and Europe once it goes live in 2023 or 2024 (see Picture), and will deliver more than the total capacity of all subsea cables currently serving Africa.

One extremity of the cable will be located in the UK and the other one in Barcelona: this landing point will reinforce the connectivity of the region, our park and its data centers.

By the way, this news gives a good opportunity to remind that the Barcelona Synchrotron Park already hosts 4 operative Data Centers (1 operated by IBM, 1 by T-Systems and 2 by SILC-Immobles; total investment: € 217 million) and offers 42,000 m2 of land especially adapted to house new Data Centers in an interesting location (presentation):
  • Top-level electric infrastructure (high capacity, high reliability, possibility of redundant power supply from cogeneration),
  • Top-quality telecommunications infrastructure (7 operators with own networks already installed and different access points),
  • Clean ambient air and quite fresh and dry climate compatible with free-cooling technologies,
  • Minimal risks (flooding, earthquakes, fires, theft),
  • Minimal energy costs (outsourced cold production plants).
20/05/2020
Hub B30: a useful platform
Hub B30 was created in 2018 to promote innovation among the SMEs located in the so-called B30 territory, the Barcelona Synchrotron Park’s territory (B30 is the 3rd Barcelona ring road adjacent to the E15-AP7 highway).

This platform created by the UAB University, the UAB Research Park, the Eurecat Technology Center and the Àmbit B30 association aims to back companies and institutions to detect their challenges and needs in improving competitiveness and offer them solutions through collaborations and interactions.

One of the actions carried out by Hub B30 consists in meetings about innovations and trends in specific sectors. These so-called Innovation Brunches focus on specific cases of technologies or disruptive innovations in given areas and a technology watch report on the corresponding sector is released at each meeting.

Two years after the creation of the initiative, the UAB Research Park carried out an impact assessment survey on people representing companies, universities and entities that attended one of the eighteen activities organized by Hub B30, between June 2018 and February 2020.

The results show that this territorial innovation initiative has contributed to 14 R&D projects and one of its most valued assets are the technology watch reports.

These results encourage to continue this initiative. Congratulations, Hub B30!
 
07/05/2020
We are a territory of innovation
Last month, the European Division of the International Association of Science Parks and Areas of Innovation (IASP) released a position paper to express its appreciation for the European Innovation Ecosystem concept, within the EU’s Horizon Europe, and in particular for the European Innovation Council’s initiative “Enhanced EIC pilot” that aims to “support top-class innovators, entrepreneurs, small companies and scientists with bright ideas and the ambition to scale up internationally”.

As networks of contacts that promote activities based on connecting people, enhancing talent, creating networks and providing them with adequate spaces to grow, Science Parks and Areas of Innovation can be key players in this new EU initiative, the IASP European Division explains in that paper.

This document provides an opportunity to remind that our park and its environment form that kind of so-called Area of Innovation: the park itself with 1.4 Mm2 of  floor area for innovative companies and the iconic ALBA synchrotron, the largest scientific facility in south-western Europe; our partner UAB university with 4,000 researchers in 30 research centers and its PRUAB technology transfer and incubation center; the EURECAT technology center; the ESADE business school and its ESADE Creapolis business and incubator center… and a dense industrial fabric of more than 10,000 companies within a 7km radius around ALBA.

The concentration of these interconnected people and structures in this concrete territory make it a privileged location to allow new ideas to emerge and innovation to become a tangible reality.
 
16/04/2020
Alba synchrotron: the double life of electrons
Until now, in the Alba synchrotron, electrons had only one role: running at the speed of light inside the accelerator ring in order to produce a very special light, the synchrotron light. This light is collected in 8 different laboratories located around the accelerator (5 more by 2023) and is used by researchers to analyze the structure of materials at the atomic and molecular scales (remember: 250,000 atoms of aluminum are needed to form a 1 mm long single file…). And Alba has been working this way for 10 years! (See our news released on last April 2).

From 2022, in parallel, in a special room located inside the same building that houses the synchrotron, other electrons will not run to produce light but will be sent directly onto the material samples to produce other types of images that will also enable researchers to investigate materials at the atomic scale. The tool that uses electrons in this way is called an electron microscope and two of the best ones that currently exist (i.e., with the more penetrating look, so to speak) will be installed.

So, researchers will have at the Alba synchrotron two complementary tools to investigate the properties of materials: light from the synchrotron itself and electrons from the two electron microscopes. Depending on the type of scientific or technological problem to be solved, one or the other two techniques (or both) will be used. This concentration of expertise will be a great benefit to the scientific community here and around, making the Alba synchrotron an even more remarkable scientific infrastructure.

The future arrival of these two electron microscopes at Alba (one for materials science and one for biology) is mentioned now because ERDF funds (European Union) were announced last week: they will contribute to fund 50% of the total cost (about 6 million euros).

Further details are given in the press release sent by the Alba Synchrotron: precise characteristics of the two microscopes, role of all involved stakeholders, etc. In addition to the central role of the synchrotron itself, let’s highlight the research institutes located on the campus of the Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB), our neighbor and partner: the UAB itself, the Catalan Institute of Nanoscience and Nanotechnology (ICN2) and the Institute of Materials Science of Barcelona (ICMAB-CSIC).

Congratulations!
 
02/04/2020
Alba synchrotron: 10 years at the service of the society
On 22nd March 2010, Barcelona Synchrotron Park’s iconic science facility ALBA was inaugurated by Spanish President Zapatero and Catalan President Montilla.

In 10 years, ALBA has allowed numerous advances in a huge range of both basic and applied scientific fields, such as biomedicine, materials science, nanotechnology or archaeology.

Since 2010, the number of users has reach more than 5,000, almost half of them international. In total, ALBA has provided synchrotron light for research groups belonging to 1,850 institutions from 45 different countries and for more than 50 private national and international companies. The result has been more than 1,500 experiments performed that have been reflected in around 1,100 scientific publications.

Currently, the ALBA Synchrotron and its 220 staff members has 8 beamlines and 5 more are under construction, all equipped with different techniques for analyzing matter at an atomic and molecular level thanks to the high quality of the synchrotron light produced.

Since the beginning, 37,722 hours of light have been generated: over the same period, the electrons that run at the speed of light inside the accelerator in order to produce the light would travel 272,000 times the Earth’s distance from the Sun!

For the coming ten years, a great update of the accelerators and beamlines is planned, called ALBA II. Its main goal is reducing the size of the electron beam, increasing the brightness of the synchrotron light, its coherence and, consequently, its powerful to reveal inner details of matter.

Congratulations!

For more information, Alba’s press release here
 
23/03/2020
ICN2 and CReSA at the forefront against COVID-19
If a first lesson can be already drawn from the COVID-19 epidemic we are facing, is that research is crucial to give both the scientific expertise governments need and solutions to cure or prevent the disease.

In that context, two research centers from the UAB Campus, our neighbor and partner, are on the front line of this great challenge: the Catalan Institute of Nanoscience and Nanotechnology (ICN2) and the Animal Health Research Center (CReSA).

Among the 17 research projects awarded this month by the European Commission after a special call to focus research efforts on the diagnosis and treatment of the COVID-19 disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, one is led by the ICN2. This project called CONVAT aims at diagnosing the disease in 30 minutes directly from a patient's sample.

CONVAT is led and coordinated by Prof. Laura M. Lechuga, CSIC Research Professor at the ICN2. The device that will be developed is based on optical biosensor nanotechnology will also allow the analysis of different types of coronavirus present in reservoir animals, such as bats, to monitor the evolution of these viruses and prevent future infectious outbreaks in humans. The project has a duration of two years, however, since it is based on previous know-how, results are expected to be produced in less than a year.

Regarding the CReSA laboratory from the Institute for Agri-Food Technology and Research (IRTA), its coronavirus line of research has begun working with scientists at the National Laboratory of Galveston and the University of Texas Medical Center of the United States of America to find out more about the origin and evolution of the disease.

Just days after the Wuhan’s new coronavirus outbreak, the virus’s gene sequence was identified and published by various research centers around the world. With this information, CReSA researchers and their colleagues have identified the target protein and its specific region that would be key to work on a possible vaccine. The next step to this study already published is to check the effectiveness of these molecules in the lab to find out if they would be good candidates for a vaccine.

Congratulations and good luck!
 
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