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The UVic-UCC has obtained a patent protecting the production process of a plant growth biostimulant made from non-hazardous bacterial microorganisms which have improved the growth of some plants by 30% in field studies. The patent is owned in equal shares by the Balmes University Foundation, the institution which owns the UVic-UCC, and two alumni of the University, Verónica Mosquera, a graduate in Biotechnology, and Rubén Hidalgo, a graduate in Environmental Sciences, who carried out the project as part of their Final Year Project (FYP). The two share responsibility for the project with the Biosciences lecturer Marta Cullell, who was their tutorial advisor.
This is also the first patent that the UVic-UCC has obtained since improving its regulations governing intellectual property to protect teaching staff, researchers and students in December 2014. According to the Vice-rector for Research and Teaching, Jordi Villà, this first patent "is the result of the University's commitment to excellence in research and to the transfer of real knowledge that is focused on businesses and society in general. We have opened up a new avenue of technological collaboration with the region". The UVic-UCC is currently in the process of applying for another patent that will be granted in the future.
Economic and ecological benefits of an innovative process
The biostimulant obtained in the patented process is applied to the soil in irrigation water, and increases plant growth by up to 30% in some cases. This effect is achieved thanks to the symbiosis that takes place between the root of the plant and the bacteria that adheres to it, which provide it with nutrients that it otherwise not receive or would not obtain in smaller amounts.
The use of products of this type in the agricultural sector is not especially common, but it is not new. The differential value of the patent lies in the economic and ecological benefit arising from the use of organic industrial waste in the biostimulant's production process. The product obtained from this process "achieves very good results when applied in the field, but it is also beneficial for the environment because it provides an outlet for waste that would not be recoverable," explains Verónica Mosquera.
Development through a company
The initial idea for the project which has led to the patent was developed by the students working on the optional in Biotechnology and Environmental Sciences subject of Creation of Bio-businesses, and took shape in the Startup Programme of the UVic-UCC's Entrepreneurship Unit, which supported and advised them for eight months while they developed their business plan. The project was also the UVic-UCC's finalist in the Interuniversity Start-Up Entrepreneurs Competition in the Startup Programme, which took place in Madrid, where they won the award for the project's viability. The students subsequently based their FYP on the project, with Mosquera focusing on the product's development and its culture medium in the laboratory, while Hidalgo, with another student who took part in the same project, carried out the efficiency tests in the field.
At the end of the FYP, the students and their tutor began the procedure to patent the result under the umbrella of the UVic-UCC. Since obtaining the patent, the University has licensed it to the biotech company Ecobium Biotech S.L., established by the two alumni. It is currently the only company in Catalonia specialising in developing and marketing innovative products that act as agricultural biostimulants and biofertilisers, and its products are based on the patented process of which Mosquera and Hidalgo are co-owners.
"So far we have focused on using the products where we invested the most time and R+D+i resources since the FYP, while improving the process. We are continuing our research to bring new products to market, improve techniques and be able to cover all our clients' needs," says Mosquera. The company launched its first product to market last September, and has four ranges for horticultural crops, ornamental plants, nurseries and seeds, and lawns.
The number of new access registrations for official qualifications at the University of Vic - Central University of Catalonia has increased by 6% in the 2016-17 academic year (to a total of 2,632 new students) and by 12% if total registration for official qualifications is taken into account. This increase includes all the registrations for degree courses at the UVic, UManresa, those for official master's degrees and doctorates at the UVic-UCC, the Professional Campus, students on the Degree in Translation, Interpreting and Applied Languages offered jointly by the UVic and the UOC, and the BAU, EADA and ESERP affiliated centres.
These figures were presented today by the rector of the UVic-UCC, Jordi Montaña, at a press conference that took place in the Joviat hostelry school in Manresa. According to Montaña, the registration figures this year are "especially good bearing in mind the overall decline in demand for university courses". As a result, he said that registration for this 2016-2017 academic year, the second with joint registration with the UVic-UCC, "is grounds for optimism about the consolidation of the knowledge space in central Catalonia".
The rector also highlighted the 78% growth of the Professional Campus, the range of vocational training available in the area around the university. According to Montaña, this initiative is having a very positive reception and "addresses a real need in our country".
New access registration on the Manresa campus this year amounts to 415 people, which is an increase of 12% compared to the previous year. The increase is concentrated in the Faculty of Health Sciences and Welfare, and especially on the courses in Speech Therapy (128%) and Podiatry (35%). In the same faculty, Physiotherapy and Nursing have consolidated their position as the courses with the highest demand, with annual growth of 12% in both cases. Students joining the Faculty of Social Sciences, courses in Business Administration and Management and Pre-School Teaching this year account for 11% of the total registration on the new campus in the capital of the Bages region.
UManresa has a total of 1,479 undergraduate students for the 2016-2017 academic year, 3.2% more than the previous year. Physiotherapy, with 196 new students, is the degree course with the most students. The high level of demand for these courses has meant that the number of places available is completely covered, and a cut-off grade for access has been established.
Profile of new students
59% of students joining this course at UManresa are women, although the gender distribution is uneven, depending on the course. Women are a majority on the courses in Speech Therapy (where 100% of the new students are female) and Pre-School Teaching (with 93% of the total). However, the majority of new Podiatry and Physiotherapy students are male, with percentages of 66% and 60% respectively.
37% of the students joining UManresa this year come from outside Spain - mostly from France, but also from Italy. They mainly choose studies in Physiotherapy and Speech Therapy, and Podiatry to a lesser extent. There are also students from elsewhere in Spain - the Balearic Islands, the Basque Country, Navarre, La Rioja, the Canary Islands, Andalusia, Castile and Aragon - who are mainly registered for health studies.
Valentí Martínez, Vice-rector of the Manresa Campus, pointed out that the positive results "for registration in the last two years dispel doubts about the benefits of the university federation". He also referred to the appeal of studies at UManresa such as Physiotherapy, Speech Therapy and Podiatry in the international market, and above all, to students from France and Italy. Finally, he stressed the good reception for Higher Level Training Cycle courses in Dental Prosthetics, "with a 56% increase in new access registration that has meant that the groups have had to be divided".
The UVic has registered 1,100 new access students for the 2016-2017 academic year - 56 students fewer than last year. This decline is due to the voluntary limitation on new students which has been applied to the degree course in Physiotherapy to ensure good educational care and supervision. According to Cristina Vaqué, the Vice-rector for Academic Affairs at UVic-UCC, the limit "enables us to maintain the educational model based on individualised care based on proximity that defines us". If it had not been implemented, there would have been a 16% increase in the admission of new students compared to last year.
The number of first-choice registrations was 80% this year - a figure which has remained stable compared to last year. At present, 83% of the places available have been covered and a cut-off grade has been implemented in the Physical Education and Sports Sciences, Physiotherapy and Psychology courses, which proves that these there is more demand among students than places available on these three degree courses.
Considered in terms of faculties, the Faculty of Education, Translation and Humanities accounts for 35% of total new access registration and has the most new students registered, followed closely by the Faculty of Health Sciences and Welfare. Registration in the Faculty of Education, Translation and Humanities has increased by 6% on Teaching degree courses, which is a significant increase considering that the overall demand for these courses in Catalonia has fallen by 7%. The Inter-University Degree in Translation, Interpreting and Applied Languages has been offered with the UOC for the second year, and 59 new students registered this year. Meanwhile, the Faculty of Business and Communication Studies accounts for 15% new access registration.
The Faculty of Health Sciences and Welfare accounts for 34% of overall new access registration - the same figure as last year, despite the checks on entry for students to the Bachelor's degree in Physiotherapy. Three degrees, in Physiotherapy, Nursing and Nutrition have covered all the places available and in the case of the latter, the number of registrations has doubled to 43 students. This Faculty has the highest number of international students, mostly from France; and considered in terms of degree courses, 68% of new Physiotherapy students, 16% of new Occupational Therapy students and 3% of the new Nursing students are French.
Finally, the Faculty of Sciences and Technology has experienced the effect of the overall decline in demand for engineering, which fell this year by 7% compared to last year. However, the 130 places available on the courses in life sciences, Biology and Biotechnology have been covered. This faculty accounts for 16% of new access registration.
Profile of new students
If we consider the profile of these new students at the UVic, the majority are women - with 59% compared to 41% who are men. Women outnumber men in all faculties except for the Faculty of Sciences and Technology, where there are more men. In terms of geographical origin, 21% come from Osona, 13% from France, 10% from the Barcelonès and 10% from the Vallès Oriental. According to the data collected in the survey completed by recently admitted students in July, those who do not live in Vic travel to the University mostly in their own car (37%), by train (31%) and by bus (21%). This year, there has been an increase of two points in carpooling (19%) following the implementation of the Fesedit system. This is an application that connects students who have requested it, and enables them to share their journey and vehicle with others with the same timetable and destination. As for accommodation, 59% of the new students live at home with their parents. Those who do not live in student residences (11%) or student flats (9%).
The general manager of the Balmes University Foundation, Joan Turró explained the progress made on the degree course in Medicine. He announced that the University Quality Agency (AQU) received the report on the qualification last Friday, and it is now only necessary for the Government of Catalonia to complete the procedure establishing the Faculty and for the Ministry of Education to authorise the places for registration to begin. According to Turró, "the project has earned respect due to being a reality" and he is convinced that on 1 September "we will be authorised to start classes".
Turró also announced that the UVic-UCC's new facilities in Barcelona will be inaugurated for next year. The premises are located on Via Augusta, at the Institute of North American Studies, and will host the postgraduate training courses moved from the two campuses.
Finally, he also announced that next year the Rector's office will move to the Casa Convalescència, a building in the centre of Vic.
The Universitat de Vic – Universitat Central de Catalunya (UVic-UCC) is the most transparent university in the Spanish State. It is also second on the overall ranking that includes all centres, regardless of whether they are public. The list, which is published by the Fundación Compromiso y Transparencia (Commitment and Transparency Foundation), was compiled with data from 2015 and the UVic-UCC climbed ten positions with respect to the previous year. Initially the University stood in second place on the ranking of private entities and seventh overall because those responsible for the report had not taken into account a series of values that the institution passed.
In fact the UVic-UCC is the only private centre to meet 25 of the 26 indicators that the ranking assesses, an overall balance that has left it among the group of completely transparent universities. The Catalan university stands out especially in the area of economic information, generally one of the most opaque, and is the only private centre that publishes all of the requested data, like employability indicators. The report also highlights that the UVic-UCC is one of the few private universities with a transparency portal.
With the title of “Transparency examination”, this is the fifth edition of the ranking drawn up by the Fundación Compromiso y Transparencia. The report submits the State university websites to analysis in order to assess their degree of transparency. The document is made from 26 previously established indicators grouped in nine areas: mission, strategic plan, personnel, government, academic offer and demand, cloisters, students, economic information and results. From the analysis of the webs, those responsible for the report classify the universities into three groups: transparent, translucent and opaque.
The Fundación Compromiso y Transparencia has placed a total of 75 academic institutions under the microscope, including 49 public and 26 in private hands. Only 27 centres came into the group of transparent universities, of which the UVic-UCC and the University of Navarre were the only private institutions.
The triathlete and leading international expert in the field of sports nutrition, Asker Jeukendrup, will be visiting the UVic-UCC campus in Vic on 15 and 16 November to give two lectures. The first is aimed at students and teaching staff on the degree courses in Nutrition and Dietetics and Physical Education and Sports Sciences, entitled "How to translate scientific information into understandable information for everybody. Mysportscience experience”, and the other, open to the general public, is about “New advances in Nutrition and Athletic Performance”, and will take place in the Aula Magna, at 8.30 am on 16 November.
Jeukendrup has focused his research on the interaction between nutrition (in both the everyday and sports spheres) and exercise, as well as the gastrointestinal disorders that occur during athletic events. He is the author of several books, including Sports Nutrition: From Lab to Kitchen, which has become the bible for professional athletes wishing to optimise their performance through better nutrition. He is currently director of the portal about sports performance and science, MySportScience (www.mysportscience.com), a popular science website consulted very often by athletes, where he disseminates knowledge of his research using understand language in practical tips that are easy to implement.
Scientist, triathlete and advisor to athletes
He holds a doctorate from the Maastricht University, with a thesis on aspects of metabolism related to the consumption of carbohydrates and fats during physical exercise, and is a professor at the University of Birmingham where he is the director of research at the School of Sport and Exercise Sciences. In 2011, he signed up for PepsiCo to head the Department of Exercise Physiology, and as the head of this area, he has led an international project at the Gatorade Sports Science Institute (USA) on the impact of the consumption certain foods on athletes' performance.
His scientific and academic work as a nutritionist is particularly relevant to the practical dimension of his studies, which he has been able to apply to his career as a triathlete. He has worked with elite athletes and leading sportsmen and women from various disciplines including cycling, skating, swimming and tennis. He has also advised teams including Chelsea or Aston Villa, as well as British and American organisations focused on improving athletic performance, such as UK Athletics and the British Olympic Association. He is currently a member of the sports nutrition advisory board of the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
As a leading expert in the field of sports nutrition and athletic performance, he has had a high profile in English-speaking media outlets. He is a regular contributor to the BBC programme The Science of Sport and has participated in specialised television programmes including Scottrade on the American channel Fox Sports. He also has a significant influence on social networks, with about 28,000 followers on Twitter.
Since October, the University of Vic - Central University of Catalonia (UVic-UCC) has been a full member of the European University Association (EUA), the organisation that brings together universities and rectors' conferences all over Europe. Membership involves joining a network of over 850 institutions in 47 European countries, which aims to be the unified voice of European universities, both at Brussels and before any other institution, and to influence European Union policies in areas such as higher education, research and innovation.
The organisation also gives its members the opportunity to participate in all kinds of events of interest to universities, to share and learn best practices and to obtain advice or guidance on very varied key issues such as patronage, financial management, management, collaborative research, etc. The EUA regularly carries out projects, studies and surveys of European universities that give its members information, analysis and statistics on current and future trends and key issues for the development of universities.
The European University Association is considered the largest representative organisation of universities and rectors' conferences in Europe. In addition to establishing itself as the global voice of universities before the EU, it also works to support and represent the interests of its individual member institutions, and to promote cooperation and synergies between them. The EUA was established in 2001 as a result of the merger of the Association of European Universities (CREA) and the Confederation of European Union Rectors' Conferences.
The University of Vic - Central University of Catalonia (UVic-UCC) has officially inaugurated the 2016-2017 academic year this afternoon with a ceremony in the Aula Magna of the UVic Campus. The inauguration ceremony also acted as the starting signal for the events commemorating the twentieth anniversary of the University, which is being celebrated throughout this academic year. The event was chaired by the rector Jordi Montaña, accompanied by the President of the Board of Trustees Balmes University Foundation (FUBalmes) and the mayor of Vic, Anna Erra, and by the Secretary for Universities and Research of the Government of Catalonia, Arcadi Navarro.
The central role of the UVic-UCC
The Secretary for Universities and Research of the Government of Catalonia, Arcadi Navarro, chaired the the inauguration of the University year for the first time, and stated that the UVic-UCC "is central to the Catalan university system". Navarro highlighted the growth of the UVic-UCC in recent years and said that "it is ready to meet all the changes and challenges in the university system". He explained that the increase in competitive funds achieved in recent years and the "exemplary" inclusion in the Industrial Doctorates programme "creates a central University that is helping to build a stronger country”. Finally, he appealed to the strength of central Catalonia during the industrial revolution and encouraged it to lead change today, "through the University”.
Structuring of the territory, internationalisation and its own pedagogical model
In his speech, the rector Jordi Montaña reviewed the major achievements of the UVic-UCC during its twenty-year history, and outlined the key strategies for its future. "We are facing serious challenges such as defining the role of the university in a rapidly changing society," concluded the rector, for whom the structuring of the territory is and will be essential "to make the knowledge society possible in our area of influence - inland Catalonia". Applied research, internationalisation and the University's own pedagogical model are other factors to consider, together with the future Faculty of Medicine: "It will not only not be competition for any of the existing faculties; it will also be part of the solution to the problem of a lack of doctors anticipated in the coming years," said Montaña.
Meanwhile, Anna Erra said that the Faculty will be a "great spur" for the University and for Vic and Manresa. According to the president of the Board of Trustees of the FUBalmes, this project will change the two cities involved, and she praised "the efforts of generosity" by the two councils in moving the federation forward and making it "a centre for attracting talent”.
Medal for Ramon Cotrina
The event began with the screening of the video record of the 2015-2016 academic year, introduced by the general secretary, Maria Àngels Crusellas. The doctor and lecturer in the Faculty of Health Sciences and Welfare Raimon Milà delivered the inaugural lecture, entitled "Childhood obesity and chronic disease in adults: an economic health and social perspective on the twenty-first century".
The UVic-UCC institutional medal was then presented to the sociologist, poet and translator from Sant Joan de les Abadesses, Ramon Cotrina in recognition of his role in the early days of the Mestres Balmes Teacher University School in 1977, as well as the publishing house EUMO, where he was the first technical director. The University insignia were also presented to the eight people who retired last year, and special awards and diplomas were presented for the best transcripts for each undergraduate and master's degree course at the University.