- Interdisciplinary projects
- A campus clearly focussed on postgraduate studies
UPF is a state university that was founded by the Government of Catalonia in 1990 in order to modernise Catalonia's university system and lend it a new lease of life.
This perspective led to the formation of a university which, unlike the rest of the system, structured its studies around three highly linked specialist fields of knowledge having cross-border cores of knowledge:
- Social sciences and humanities
- Health and life sciences
- Communication and information technologies
Likewise, the university was conceived with the following aims:
- Combining quality teaching and research having international outreach on the basis of three specialist fields
- Organising a model that currently culminates in the planning of leading postgraduate studies on the three aforementioned scientific fields.
UPF's founding commitment was to establish itself as a university specialising in three fields of knowledge. Accordingly, in the space of just twenty years, the university has built sufficient experience and a solid critical mass in order to be a competitive institution on the international stage in its three specialist areas: social sciences and humanities, health and life sciences, and communication and information technologies.
As a result, on the context of the 2010 Campus of International Excellence project, the UPF25 year strategy intends to foster these three fields of knowledge to which the university is devoted by encouraging synergies among the three areas. Indeed, at an international level these three fields of knowledge are also developing towards interaction.
The following diagram portrays the CEI - UPF Icària project, which establishes cross-disciplinary relations among all the university's scientific fields in order to ensure that individuals are placed at the heart of the institution's teaching and research activities.
Diagram I. Chart of synergies and interaction
Lastly, in order to lay testimony to the university's strengths in each of these fields along with existing synergies, several international rankings according to fields of knowledge are given below in addition to a brief list of interdisciplinary projects on which the university is working.
- First Spanish university, 10th in Europe and 43th worldwide for research in economics, according to the research ranking prepared by the University of Tilburg (2012)
- UPF is part of the Excellence Group in the fields of economics and business and in political and social sciences according to the CHE-Excellence Ranking (2010)
- First university in Ibero-America and Spain for social sciences in terms of international collaboration, average scientific quality and percentage of publications in journals listed in the first quartile of the most influential journals in the world (Ibero-American Ranking SIR 2010)
- First university in Ibero-America and Spain for health sciences in terms of average scientific quality and percentage of publications in journals listed in the first quartile of the most influential journals in the world. In terms of international collaboration, UPF is the top Spanish university and the fifth in Ibero-America (Ibero-American Ranking SIR 2010)
- First university in Ibero-America and Spain for life sciences in terms of percentage of publications in journals listed in the first quartile of the most influential journals in the world and the top university in Spain (and sixth in Ibero-America) for international collaboration. With regard to average scientific quality, UPF is the second university in Spain and in Ibero-America (Ibero-American Ranking SIR 2010)
- First Spanish university and 38th worldwide in the field of economics and econometrics (QS World University Rankings 2012)
- First Spanish university and in the 101-150 range worldwide in the field of political and international studies (QS World University Rankings 2012)
- First Spanish university in the field of economics, management and business (I-UGR Spanish universities rankings according to fields and scientific disciplines 2012; in previous editions (2010, 2011), this ranking was known as the "ISI Ranking of Spanish universities according to fields and scientific disciplines")
- Fourth Spanish university in the field of social sciences (I-UGR Spanish universities rankings according to fields and scientific disciplines 2012)
- Sixth Spanish university in the field of biological sciences (I-UGR Spanish universities rankings according to fields and scientific disciplines 2012)
- Among the Top 10 Spanish universities in the fields of mathematics and information and communication technologies (I-UGR Spanish universities rankings according to fields and scientific disciplines 2012)
Biomedical imaging technologies
Biomedical imaging technologies are a vital component in the increasing technical approach adapted to biomedical processes and the customisation of health systems. UPF currently has a technological research group that works with researchers from the biomedical area in order to set up a biomedical imaging technology centre. Developed by UPF, this centre will work to improve healthcare through research, development and innovation in medical technologies (and in biomedical imaging in particular).
One of the purposes of bioinformatics is the application of advanced information technologies and calculation methods to health and life sciences. A UPF research group is currently working on these areas in conjunction with researchers from the IMIM-Hospital del Mar. This is a multidisciplinary team (involving biologists, chemists, pharmacists, doctors, computer technicians and information specialists) of more than seventy scientists organising their activities in six laboratories (in accordance with the group's main lines of activity): computational genomics, structural bioinformatics, computational biophysics and biochemistry, chemogenomics, computer-assisted drug design and integrative biomedical informatics.
2.2.2 ICT-SS&HLanguage resources and technologies
Language resources and technologies (LRTs) - which include machine translation, extraction of information from texts, the detection of opinions or readers for the visually impaired - make it possible to progress in terms of research in fields of knowledge involving textual data where the use of technologically advanced instruments is still in the very early stages. The LRT skills centre aims to ensure access and maximise the use of cutting-edge technologies as needed to perform research that is competitive on an international level, whilst generating new innovative services that meets the needs of the business sector and society.
Brain and cognition research
UPF has research groups with a prominent international profile in the field of cognitive sciences (including neurobiology, language sciences, experimental economics and interactive technologies); therefore, the consolidation of the centre will help to showcase and promote these collaborative scientific activities. Practical applications include research on perception and production of speech (especially in bilingual patients and babies); the effect of bilingualism on learning, attention or speech production (with implications for the treatment of brain injuries, among other areas); perception in multisensory environments; and a quantitative study on precognitive (perception) and cognitive activity using computational models.
Research on economics and health
The Research Centre for Economics and Health (CRES) assists a UPF research group which, through university research, strives to contribute to changing and improving the way health services are managed and training is given. The practical applications include analysing changes in the regulation of national health systems (along with the implications entailed for the financial, organisational and managerial capacity of the system). The centre also addresses issues such as the mechanisms for incorporating public competence into health management processes; the introduction of social assurance notions in the national health system; and the application of methods for assessing effectiveness and equality in health service provision.
The Evolutionary Biology Institute (IBE) - a joint initiative of the CSIC and UPF - has become an international leader in biodiversity studies and their development, from a molecular and genomic standpoint, particularly focussing on human diversity. The institute stands out thanks to its ability to approach studies on functional and genome evolution and studies describing biodiversity from a range of observational scales including a molecular, biochemical, genomic, physiological, morphological and ethological (cognitive) standpoint. It promotes the use of its highly sophisticated technologies, especially encouraging use of major genome sequencing projects.
Similarly, the UPF Experimental Economics Laboratory (LeeX) has been working with the IBE - and in conjunction with the Ernst Ferh laboratory in Zurich - on a joint project which involves researchers in psychology, anthropology and genetics. The study is a pioneering interdisciplinary initiative in this field and it examines human genetic architecture in socio-economic terms, such as risk preferences, altruism or strategic behaviour.
The university strategy essentially aims to promote postgraduate studies in the coming years. Nonetheless, the synergies emerging among the three fields of knowledge are also taking place with regard to bachelor's degrees. In this respect, from the 2011-2012 academic year, the university is offering a bachelor's degree in Biomedical Engineering jointly organised by the Department of Information and Communications Technologies and the Department of Experimental and Health Sciences.
Postgraduate studies form a context for the fusion of excellence in teaching and research to which UPF has been committed ever since it was founded. For instance, quality research inevitably brings with it the preparation of doctoral programmes of excellence. Moreover, the education of leading doctoral students helps to ensure the research conducted by the university will also be first class.
With regard to this objective, it is worth highlighting the role played by UPF's two interuniversity postgraduate platforms (Barcelona Graduate School of Economics and the Barcelona Institute for International Studies), two internationally renowned centres of outstanding quality which constitute the essence of the project's associate network in terms of teaching.
The active involvement of both platforms - who focus their activities on social sciences and humanities - is intended to consolidate UPF's standing as a leading centre for postgraduate platforms in Barcelona. Initially, the location of the IBEI at the UPF Research Park will help to merge capacities (infrastructure, materials, human resources, etc.). Consequently, it will boost the synergies arising between both institutions. At a later stage, this postgraduate platform model may be applied to other scientific fields at the UPF campus.