The R+D+I Network Energy for Society (XRE4S) is a benchmark energy ecosystem that encompasses the entire energy spectrum and promotes the energy transition at a Catalan and international level. The XRE4S is coordinated by IREC and three entities will join from the beginning: the Efficient Energy Cluster of Catalonia (CEEC), the DEMETER investment fund and the Catalan Solar Institute (INCASÒL).
The XRE4S includes the leading Catalan research groups in energy, being both interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary. This is the reason why the XRE4S stands as a single-entry gate to the different energy technologies of Catalan research, facilitating access to energy innovation for SMEs, investors, and large companies. Companies and investors contact XRE4S directly to discover the leading energy technologies in Catalonia. The XRE4S started with 35 research groups from 14 Catalan universities, research centres and technological centres, and currently has a total of 41 groups.
The XRE4S has deployed a program to promote the valorisation and technology transfer in the field of energy in Catalonia to the productive and social sector, while promoting the interaction between research and business to transfer knowledge and creating innovative products in the energy sector, while increasing the impact of energy innovations in the society.
The XRE4S, in the period from 2018 to 2022, has consolidated its brand and is present in different initiatives at the Catalan and national levels, with collaborative collaborations with clusters, companies, investment funds, venture builders and accelerators. More than 15 events have been organized jointly with the mentioned agents, and some have been established as a reference in the yearly calendar, such as the Innovation Day Energia or the regular webinars.
The model of the XRE4S has become a pioneer in the collaboration and incorporation of relevant actors in the energy and transfer sector (clusters, technological platforms, innovation ecosystems, R+D+I processes, venture builders, administration, among others).
In the XRE4S events, the research groups presented specific technologies, companies exposed their energy challenges, and researchers could offer innovative responses to these challenges (matchmaking). Several individual meetings have been held with companies and investors to present the technologies. The L2M program has identified the technologies with the greatest potential for valorization of the XRE4S. The program has mapped potential beneficiary companies of the technologies, has carried out marketing studies, has developed marketing strategies for the technologies and defined roadmaps for each of them. The program has also highlighted the priority activities to continue giving support to the technologies. For this reason, XRE4S created complementary programs: the IP Services & Transfer program, the Technology Business Development (TBD) program and the Mentorship program. These programs have allowed to increase the number of patents and licences, promote the creation of spin offs, as well as train researchers to increase technology transfer and increase private capital. The XRE4S programs have carried out 90 assessment services in protection, mercat, commercialization, among others.
As a result, since 2018, 100 technologies have been identified with a potential for valorisation. The groups have requested 46 patents and during the life of the XRE4S they have created 7 spin offs, and it is expected that one more will be established by 2023. They have licensed 15 patents and 6 have been the seed for creating a spin off. More than 900 companies potentially benefiting from the technologies have been identified and meetings have been held with more than 300 companies thanks to the valorization programs and the promotion activities of the XRE4S with their own activities and assisting in fires and matchmaking activities. The research groups have had more than 200 contracts with companies.
The training activities have trained researchers to increase technology transfer, with more than 500 researchers participating in more than 30 training sessions.
The role of IREC within the XRE4S Network has been both as the coordinator of the ecosystem, as well as a participant in the activities of the Network. All IREC research groups (Solar Energy Materials and Systems, Nanoionics and Fuel Cells, Functional Nanomaterials, Energy Storage, Harvesting and Catalysis, Power Systems, Energy Systems Analytics and the Thermal Energy and Building Performance groups) have participated in the different activities and programs mentioned above.
The team of IREC that has made this ecosystem possible is Marta Fonrodona, as Director, Joana Tarrés, the project manager, Georgina Manyanic, as junior project manager, and Anna Magrasó, as the communication officer.
This project is co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund of the European Union in the framework of the ERDF Operational Programme Catalonia 2014-2020 and supported by the Government of Catalonia.