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The University of A Coruña (UDC) is located in the north-western region of Galicia (Spain). With around 20.000 students, UDC is highly committed to the cultural, social and economic development of their region and increasingly undertaking collaboration with a wider range of external stakeholders. This blog highlights two of these collaborations: the INTALENT programme with Inditex and the Joint Research Unit “The shipyard of the future” with Navantia.
InTalent is a collaborative programme with the company Inditex, the largest fashion retailer in Spain and one of the largest worldwide, also headquartered in Galicia. With almost 172.000 employees and over 7.400 stores in 202 markets of all continents, Inditex owns eight brands, with Zara as flagship brand. The motivation of Inditex to support ‘science of excellence’ and help build a strong regional research network was the seed of this programme. INTALENT aims to recruit high profile postdoctoral researches from anywhere in the world with an excellent research track record and the ability to generate new knowledge in the areas of life sciences, arts and humanities or science and engineering.
Candidates present a project proposal and the selected postdoctoral researchers are sponsored by Inditex to join a UDC research centre for up to three years with a competitive salary, research funding, access to facilities and the possibility to extend their stay. These researchers bring new ideas and international approaches to research in UDC. In addition, Inditex also funds a Chair in Corporate Social Responsibility within UDC, which runs a postgraduate diploma in this topic (http://www.catedrainditex.com) and undertake several activities with UDC in social responsibility and sustainability. Both partners are committed to continue their collaboration in the future.
UDC also collaborates with Navantia, a Spanish state-owned shipbuilding company for both the military and civil sectors. It is the fifth-largest shipbuilder in Europe, and the ninth-largest worldwide. Navantia was gradually increasing its focus on sustainability and approached UDC in 2014 when they we in need of an academic and research partner to design and apply the “Shipyard 4.0” concept. At the same time, UDC was interested in helping improving the shipyard of Ferrol, located nearby their campus and very connected with their naval and industrial engineering programmes.
In 2015, UDC and Navantia created the Joint Research Unit called “The Shipyard of the Future”, initially funded by a competitive call of the Galician Research Agency (GAIN) for university-industry research collaboration. This joint research unit aims to develop new techniques and technologies to increase the competitiveness of the shipyard and to face technical-industrial challenges. This is done by improving the existing production processes through ICT and developing new ones, which increases productivity while reducing time and costs. Around 30 researchers of UDC and around 50 workers of Navantia work together in a building located nearby the shipyard and with direct access to it. The unit started with a €3.5 million budget and have an additional €2.6 million funding approved until 2021, but both organisations and the government are committed to a longer-term collaboration.
The first results have already emerged, with five PhD candidates undertaking their theses in this unit, several papers and conference presentations of their findings and two patents filed. While Navantia benefits from the applied work of high-quality researchers in its area, UDC contributes to a key regional sector through knowledge and technology that flows smoothly between the two organisations.
Image credits: INDITEX UDC