The Biomedical Research Institutes of Girona, Lleida and Tarragona finalise the GO_HERO project to jointly promote the internationalisation of research

As a result, the units responsible for the management of international projects have been reinforced and training programmes have been developed to promote more European research in Catalonia

The Institute of Biomedical Research of Girona Dr. Josep Trueta (IDIBGI), the Institute of Biomedical Research of Lleida Dr. Pifarré Foundation (IRBLleida) and the Institute of Health Research Pere Virgili (IISPV) end this 2021, after three years, the joint project GO_HERO (Health European Research Offices) to promote the internationalisation of the research of the three centres. Thanks to the project, the units responsible for managing international projects have been strengthened and training programmes have been developed to promote more European research in Catalonia.

The project, coordinated by the IISPV, received 300,000 euros in the GO_EUROPE call of the Generalitat de Catalunya in 2019. In these three years, the teams of the units responsible for international projects in each centre have been reinforced to improve support for research staff, and to design and implement a training plan on policies, strategies and funding programmes of the European Commission. The initiative has also helped to raise the profile of existing biomedical research at the three institutes and to boost the attraction of foreign talent.

In the first area, the three centres have consolidated their internationalisation departments and have managed to double the number of management staff. In the area of training, the first year the activity focused on training the staff of the management offices. In the other two years, training was offered to research staff to develop strategies for success in their applications for European projects, as well as on the new Horizon Europe call for proposals, research methodology with a gender perspective, dissemination and scientific communication and data processing in research. With regard to the visibility of biomedical research, the project has promoted the website

The impact of the project is significant, as it has given a boost to the three institutes to become benchmarks in their strategic areas at European and international level. This increase strengthens Catalonia's position on the European biomedical and clinical map, in addition to the possible inclusion of the particular health needs of our citizens on the European agenda.

This initiative is part of the existing collaboration agreement between the three institutes. Apart from having similar scientific production indicators, the three regions share health challenges in providing coverage to a population that is geographically dispersed, older than that of the metropolitan areas and with less investment. This situation makes collaboration between the institutes and with other European entities of vital importance in order to offer solutions to existing health challenges, both regionally and internationally.

Aware of this challenge, in 2017 the management team of the IISPV, the IRBLleida and the IDIBGI decided to join forces through a framework agreement to seek synergies between the three promotion units and to maximise the impact of the institutes' research internationally. The future of this union involves maintaining collaboration between the centres.

According to Dr. Joan Vendrell, director of the IISPV, "international competitiveness is essential in any prestigious research centre, both in terms of scientific recognition and obtaining resources that allow a broadening of the knowledge shared by the entire scientific community. The GO_HERO project, of which the IISPV is the coordinator, has been essential in the promotion of an international research policy in the biomedical field in our territory, with the collaboration and co-participation of the Institutes of Health Research of Lleida (IRBLleida) and Girona (IDIBGI). During the three years of the project, we have been able to consolidate the international projects office at the service of all researchers, multiplying by 4 the budget raised in the different international competitive calls. Even so, it has allowed us to lead an international project for the first time from the IISPV". Dr. Vendrell added that "GO_HERO has been the seed that has allowed us to join forces between different institutions to carry out a fundamental task, difficult to achieve individually on our own, and which shows that inter-institutional collaboration is possible, effective and provides solutions".

For Dr Diego Arango, director of IRBLleida, "the internalisation of research is important for all research institutes. This involves several important aspects such as attracting international talent, promoting stays in foreign centres for our own research staff, and accessing funds from the European Union and other sources. The GO_HERO programme has given an important boost to these aspects, which need to be continued in the coming years".

For her part, Dr. Marga Nadal, Director of the IDIBGI, stressed that "the alliance of the 3 biomedical research centres outside the Barcelona area has been a very enriching experience in finding joint and complementary solutions to shared difficulties in the areas of participation in European projects and in the internationalisation of the institutions". Dr. Nadal added that "the Go-HERO project has been key to taking a step forward in international research which would need to be extended for a further three years in order to consolidate and become sustainable".

The initiative has made it possible to raise the profile of existing biomedical research at the three institutes and to promote the attraction of foreign talent