"Certainly the year 2020 has been a very challenging one for the whole world and the ICMABers have also been deeply concerned by the strong uncertainty we have faced. While the COVID-19 has been a lesson in humility, it has also had as a positive upheaval the demonstration of the value of science."
"FUNFUTURE is a new opportunity of ICMABers to tackle global scientific challenges in energy, electronics and health with renewed enthusiasm. The second recognition of ICMAB as a Severo Ochoa Center of Excellence recognizes its success in advancing the ambitious goals of creating cutting edge functional materials, as well as the suitability of the strategic plan, the efficient project governance and reaching strong international reputation standing."
Welcome to the ICMAB Annual Report 2020!
This annual report is the first after our renewed Severo Ochoa Center of Excellence “Smart FUNctional materials for a better FUTURE” (FUNFUTURE) with our deputy director Prof. Mª Rosa Palacín being the Principal Investigator. We feel extremely satisfied for this renewal and we have started facing the novel challenges of the revised strategic plan for a new period of four years (2020-2023).
The new strategic plan of FUNFUTURE tackles global challenges in energy, electronics and health, targeting to cope with objectives covered in several UN goals for sustainable development. The ICMAB R&D activity covers the vast multidisciplinary profile of Materials Science and Engineering. For that purpose, the strategic plan is organized on the basis of 5 mission-oriented research lines which are widely described in this report.
Certainly the year 2020 has been a very challenging one for the whole humanity and the ICMABers have also been deeply concerned by the strong uncertainty we have faced. While the COVID 19 has been a lesson in humility, it has also had as a positive upheaval the demonstration of the value of science. ICMAB has faced courageously the different stages of the pandemia and it has shown to be able to generate a great degree of resilience incorporating to our everyday life several digital technologies which were unthinkable up to now. The whole organization of the center has been modified moving towards an enhanced efficiency and a more sustainable way of life and we expect that these changes will become a permanent asset.
During 2020 we have continued our effort to foster the attraction and retention of new talent. We are very happy that to have increased the staff during this year (12 % as compared to 2019). In 2020 our personnel has reached 397 (234 researchers, 80 undergraduate or master students and 64 support staff), which emphasizes our commitment to training. The overall gender balance of ICMABers is fairly good: 43 % scientific female staff (44 % overall). We had in 2020 a total of 122 PhD fellows (51 % of them foreigners from 30 different countries), 50 postdoctoral researchers (58 % of them from abroad) During 2020 we assured 4 new permanent scientist positions, 2 Tenure Track positions (Ramón y Cajal) and 1 Junior Junior Leader Fellowship from La Caixa Foundation but we had also 3 retirements keeping a total permanent scientific staff of 63.
A success in R&D funds attraction is one of our strengths (ICMAB being for the second consecutive year second within CSIC ranking). The total budget for 2020 was slightly higher than 2019 (15,8 M€), increasing the competitive funding up to a ~66 %. The extraordinary growth on R&D activities and people at ICMAB since 2016 has been strongly linked to a high success in attracting EU funding (46 % of the competitive projects), particularly ERC grants continue to be a very significant contribution (2 new in 2020 and a total of 11 up to now, among the highest of research centers in Spain and the first among CSIC institutes). FUNFUTURE continues with the successful internal call of Frontier Interdisciplinary Projects. The first call was made in 2020 and a total of 7 projects were selected for funding, with their objectives being described in 7 short videos linked to this report.
The scientific production of ICMAB researchers has increased its outstanding character, both in terms of number and quality. A total of 267 articles were published in 2020, reaching an average impact factor of the journals of 7.28, with 17 % of the articles being published in journals with IF>10. The total number of citations has a steady increase (> 181.000 at the end of 2020 from 5.658 publications, with > 16.000 citations per year, a mean value of 32 citations per paper and a h factor of 156). The international character of our R&D activities is stressed by the fact that our publications involve scientists from 50 countries: 73 % of the publications (194) are in collaboration with researchers from abroad.
You will find in the report a full list of the publications distributed by research lines, as well as a selection of 17 videos (10 min) presented by scientific leaders of scientific highlights which were presented to the international Scientific Advisory Board of ICMAB. There are 3-4 videos for each RL and the topics cover from the design and synthesis of novel materials, such as oxynitrides, to novel strategies to prepare organic photovoltaic films by high throughput experimentation, ultrafast grown superconducting thin films and its applications in high energy physics devices or large-scale nanostructures for optoelectronic applications. Advances in energy related materials in the field of electrochemical storage are also presented (batteries and supercapacitors) together with smart oxide and organic materials for energy-efficient electronics. These are based on ferroelectric, magnetic, electrical transport (semiconductors and metal-insulator transitions) and superconducting properties. Finally, the development of novel bioactive materials for therapy and diagnostics are described, covering aerogels and carbon nanomaterials to fight against cancer, fluorescent bioimaging of cells or bacterial nanocellulose to treat corneal pathologies.
The activities devoted to communication and outreach have been continuously growing during 2020 within the scope of FUNFUTURE, following the wake initiated within FUNMAT. You will find in this report links to the press releases prepared during the whole year dealing with new findings published by our scientists in high-profile journals and institutional and outreach activities. Also our presence on the written, audiovisual and social media has been continuously growing, and we apperaed in three programmes in the Catalan TV in prime time! The educational initiatives were also strongly promoted, with the very successful exhibition and virtual escape room Matheroes deserving special mention. Outreach activities for the general public and young people, such as the ones for the Science week or the European Researchers' Night, are a very rewarding activity for our scientific and technical staff as you will see from the a detailed list of activities carried out during 2020.
Last but not least, the knowledge transfer capabilities of ICMAB are being enhanced concomitant to a staff increase. During 2020 the number of initiatives, such as patent applications, licenses, non-disclosure agreements, and collaboration with industrial, final users or technological centers has widely increased together with, participation in technological platforms and clusters as well as innovation brokerage events and fairs,.
We hope that you will enjoy surfing the 2020 ICMAB report! Join our social media and visit our website to keep in touch with us.
Director of ICMAB