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Five UPF PhD students receive Industrial Doctorate grants, designed to attract talent and to carry out R&D&I projects

Five UPF PhD students receive Industrial Doctorate grants, designed to attract talent and to carry out R&D&I projects

The projects funded by this programme, managed by AGAUR, enable extending research links by connecting enterprise, universities and doctoral students. The projects funded in the 2020 call come under the scope of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT), Business and Economics, and Biomedicine.

13.01.2021

Imatge inicial

With these five new grants, Pompeu Fabra University has received a total of seven in the announcement of the 2020 Industrial Doctorate, an initiative of the Generalitat (Government) of Catalonia in collaboration with the Catalan university and research system, managed by the Agency for Management of University and Research Grants (AGAUR). The projects, relating to the fields of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT), Business and Economics, and Biomedicine, are framed in the co-funding category, which allows creating links between enterprise, universities and doctoral students by providing funding to each party.

An industrial doctorate is a strategic research project of a company, carried out in collaboration with the university and will become the subject of a doctoral thesis. This programme is open to projects in all areas of knowledge and to companies of any size, and the collaboration agreement is limited to three years. The goal of this programme is to contribute to the competitiveness and international outreach of Catalan industry while retaining domestic talent, allowing doctoral students to carry out projects in R&D&I in business environments.

Projects with a high value in innovation and a strong social impact

“Music identification algorithms using deep learning techniques" is the project by Guillem Cortes, conducted under the supervision of Xavier Serra, head of the Music Technology Group (MTG), which will be carried out in the company BMAT. “Technologies used nowadays to identify music date back to a series of discoveries that took place twenty years ago”, says Cortes. “The aim of this thesis is to use the latest advances in fields such as Big Data and Machine Learning in order to improve these identification systems”.

The project entitled “Logistics Optimization for Social Care Services”, by Daniel López, is supervised by Jésica de Armas and is being conducted in collaboration with Barcelona City Council’s Municipal Institute of Social Services. The project has a very important social function, as López explains: “the aim is to improve planning to enhance Barcelona social services’ home care, which has a real effect on the lives of vulnerable populations”.

“Mobility Optimization for Social Care Services” is the title of project by Laura Portell, under the guidance of Helena Ramalhinho, head of the Business Analytics Research Group (BARG), conducted within the framework of the Barcelona City Council’s Municipal Institute for People with Disabilities. Portell’s doctorate consists of “optimizing the routing system of the taxi and bus services that Barcelona City Council provides to people with reduced mobility”.

“Nanomedicine Medical Technology Applications in Regulatory Science” is the Industrial Doctorate project of Francisco Rodríguez, in the company Asphalion, directed by Pilar Rivera, head of the Integrative Biomedical Materials and Nanomedicine Lab Research Group. The purpose of his thesis is “to study the regulation of nanotechnology medical applications since, as is known, technology is advancing at a different pace to the development of standards. We propose analysing future trends to pinpoint deficiencies for which a solution will eventually be proposed”.

The project “Development of simulation and machine-learning approaches for structure biology, computational chemistry and drug discovery”, by Nikolai Schapin, is under the tutorship of Gianni de Fabritiis, head of the Computational Science Research Group, and is being carried out in collaboration with the company  Acellera Labs. The aim of this Industrial Doctorate is to develop new approaches to learning and applications derived from deep learning, applied to pharmaceutical chemistry for discovering drugs.

“Conducting the project within a company has the advantage of dealing with real problems and situations in which we can apply our knowledge in a practical way”

Industrial Doctorate opportunities

Apart from the funding granted to each party involved in an Industrial Doctorate, the opportunities created by this type of cooperation go a lot further. “In addition to the scientific knowledge gained from research I think that doctoral students also learn other cross-disciplinary skills that allow them to move and develop in academic and business environments”, as Francisco Rodríguez affirms. “It also gives the opportunity to gain more professional experience at the same time as establishing contacts to enhance professional development”.

Moreover, the ID allows doctoral students to “enjoy access to the resources of the company, such as databases, which would not be possible otherwise as they are mostly private”, Guillem Cortes explains. Furthermore, conducting the project within a company has the advantage of dealing with real problems and situations in which we can apply our knowledge in a practical way”, Laura Portell states.

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