The CaixaResearch Institute is yet another indication of ”la Caixa” Foundation’s unwavering commitment to scientific and social progress, and of its mission to address the main challenges for present and future health, such as infectious diseases, global health, oncology and neurosciences.
The new institute will focus on excellence in research and innovation in the field of health, at both the pre-clinical and translational levels. Its aim is to work for the wellbeing of the population and global health, an area whose significance has been even further highlighted by the COVID-19 worldwide pandemic.
The CaixaResearch Institute will reinforce the intensive research activity promoted by the institution over recent years around infectious diseases, global health, oncology, and neurodegenerative diseases and neurosciences. This activity seeks complementarities and synergies with the four research centres with which it currently maintains strategic collaboration: Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal), AIDS Research Institute (IrsiCaixa), Vall d´Hebron Institute of Oncology (VHIO) and the Barcelona Beta Research Centre (BBRC).
A new scientific hub on Collserola
The CaixaResearch Institute will be located in a newly constructed building in Teodor Roviralta Street, on land which previously housed the ”la Caixa” Employees Association. Its proximity to CosmoCaixa means the cluster will form a scientific campus at the foot of Collserola which will unite research of international excellence with the idea of bringing science closer to society. More than 300 researchers are expected to be working at the centre.
”la Caixa” Foundation has initiated the urban planning process with Barcelona City Council and has reached an agreement with that local authority for modification of the General Metropolitan Plan. This involves reparcelling of the land on which the building is located, in return for which the Foundation undertakes to urbanise a new public plaza between CosmoCaixa and the new building, above the Ronda de Dalt ring road. The institution will also deliver 1,200 m2 of land to the rear of the centre for the Council to turn into public green space, adjoining the Sierra de Collserola Natural Park.
Approval of this modification will enable plans to be drawn up for the construction of a collection of buildings covering some 12,000 m2 above ground, adapted to the terrain of the area. These will house the cutting-edge, innovative scientific and technical laboratories and facilities, necessary for the creation of an international reference centre in the field of health research and innovation. Integrated into the surrounding landscape, these buildings will have a height of no more than three storeys.
The centre will feature renewed installations and equipment that will enable it not only to retain local scientific talent, but also attract international experts who can contribute to projecting the biomedical research and innovation of the future. The investment ”la Caixa” Foundation will allocate to make the CaixaResearch Institute a reality is more than 60 million euros, between construction of the new building and furnishing its equipment.
The institution has commissioned the architectural project to TAC Arquitectes, whose principal architect is Eduard Gascón, responsible for such works as the Centro Tecnológico de Manresa (CTM), Complejo Mirasol (offices, housing, library and municipal market) and the office tower of the Cámara de Comercio de Barcelona in the 22@ district (UA2 Barcelona).
An unwavering commitment to research
”la Caixa” Foundation’s involvement in health and research goes back more than a century, with the creation of the Clínica de Maternidad Santa Madrona (1920) and the Obra Antituberculosa de Torrebonica-Terrassa (1922). Subsequently, in 1932, the Instituto Antituberculoso Francesc de Moragas was created in Barcelona’s Passeig de Sant Joan street, where research was conducted which had high impact for its day, and where the first electronic microscope in Catalonia was installed.
Furthermore, ”la Caixa” Foundation has been driving projects for over 30 years in the field of research and innovation in biomedicine and health, which take place in research centres, universities and hospitals in Spain and Portugal. The Foundation is currently collaborating with more than 150 institutions to generate new scientific knowledge in the area of health, and is supporting the work of no fewer than 2,500 researchers on the Iberian Peninsula.
The ”la Caixa” Foundation’s Research and Health programme is one of the most important in Europe among those undertaken by philanthropic organisations. In 2020 alone the institution allocated 66 million euros to research and health projects.
In addition to the strategic collaborations with leading centres, of particular note among these programmes were the CaixaResearch competitive calls for health research projects. These award some of the highest grants in Spain and Portugal, and focus on five fields: cardiovascular diseases, oncology, neurosciences, infectious diseases and health technologies.
The Foundation also fosters the transfer of knowledge to society and the creation of new biomedical companies through the CaixaResearch calls for innovation proposals. In the last five years, these calls have provided support to 206 projects from 80 universities and research centres in Spain and Portugal, to an amount of 62 million euros.