Mondragon Goi Eskola Politeknikoa and IKERLAN create a steering team to strengthen their strategic collaboration
Both organisations have made a commitment to work together on different future challenges such as attracting and developing talent and excellence in the field of research
Mondragon Goi Eskola Politeknikoa, the Engineering Faculty of Mondragon Unibertsitatea (MGEP-MU), and the technology centre IKERLAN have taken a further step in their long history of collaboration and have set up a Steering Team that will allow both entities to create teams to address some of the most important challenges facing the technology sector. This is the case of the recruitment and development of talent, or the technological development in disruptive areas such as digitization, artificial intelligence or the application of hydrogen.
This type of university / technology centre binomial, such as the one between MGEP-MU and IKERLAN, is a standard formula used in Europe by various leading centres and universities to boost their activity, due to the complementarities and synergies that exist between them both from the point of view of training and applied R&D. In 2019 several international experiences were explored to identify practices that might be of interest with a view to incorporating them in the Basque Country.
“A number of visits were made to various centres and universities in Flanders, the Netherlands, Norway, Finland and Germany. We noted that in all of them there were coordination structures like the Steering Team that we have set up” said Marcelino Caballero, Managing Director of IKERLAN, who also added that “of all the models analysed, it was the Norwegian model between SINTEF and NTNU that we found most interesting and it is this one that we are using as a benchmark. Starting from a similar origin to ours, they have been working for some time to strengthen their strategic collaboration through different initiatives to join forces in the face of common challenges”.
MGEP-MU and IKERLAN have been working together for over 45 years. In fact, IKERLAN was created in 1974 from MGEP-MU, with the support of Laboral Kutxa and several industrial cooperatives from the current MONDRAGON Corporation. Since that time, they have worked closely together both in attracting and developing talent, as well as in researching and transferring technology to companies.
This new Steering Team made up of different members of the IKERLAN Management and the MGEP-MU Coordination Team, as well as the Dean of the Mondragon University itself, Vicente Atxa, aims to explore and identify initiatives and actions in addition to the current ones that allow reinforcing collaboration between both entities, through mixed work teams in specific areas of collaboration.
Another of the most important coordination elements identified in all the centres of reference were the joint research excellence teams, in which research personnel from both organizations join forces to jointly research in strategic domains of common interest. In the case of MGEP-MU and IKERLAN, these teams are referred to as IBAT (Ikerketa eta Berrikuntzan Adituen Taldea) and the first ones were launched in 2018. “We currently have four IBAT: in cyber security, energy storage, digital platforms and electrical machines / power electronics. We join forces and conduct joint research in these teams in order to develop the knowledge and technology that companies will need to face the challenges of the future, creating bonds of trust that are crucial between the researchers of both organisations” said Carlos Garcia, General Coordinator of MGEP-MU.
During 2020, both organisations have drawn up their respective Strategic Plans, including a clear commitment to strengthening this partnership. “The collaboration between MGEP-MU and IKERLAN is an example of how to explore, enhance and boost the complementary nature of two organisations that are leaders in their respective fields”, said Vicente Atxa, Dean of the University of Mondragon and head of the MONDRAGON Corporation's Knowledge project, adding that “in the MONDRAGON Knowledge Division we want to support and actively contribute to this partnership by participating in this Steering Team”.
The Steering Team is finalising the preparation of a management plan for 2021, which includes activities in the fields of training, research, communication and strategy.
IKERLAN, a member of BRTA, is a leading centre in technology transfer and in the contribution of competitive value to the company due, among other things, to the specialisation of its researchers. It offers comprehensive solutions that combine different technological fields into three large areas: Electronics, Information and Communication Technologies (EICT), Energy and Power Electronics and Advanced Manufacturing. In 2017, IKERLAN obtained certification, via AENOR, for the integrated management system (UNE-EN ISO 9001:2015 and UNE 166002:2014), which recognises the excellence of the centre in the field of R&D&I. It currently has a workforce of around 350 people.
MONDRAGON GOI ESKOLA POLITEKNIKOA is the Engineering Faculty of MONDRAGON UNIBERTSITATEA, a unique, innovative, co-operative university dedicated to the needs of companies and society. The engineering training it offers is high quality, with its own educational model and based on cooperative values. The faculty has four sites in Arrasate-Mondragón, Hernani, Ordizia and Bilbao, and technologically advanced equipment that allows it to anticipate the challenges of industry and society. A faculty that combines the training of young people and professionals with research and the transfer of knowledge aimed at improving the competitive advantage of companies. Proof of this is that 15 of the 16 degrees that are taught offer the possibility of the DUAL programme and seal promoted by the Basque Government. In 2020 it was the state's private university with the largest number of new engineering students. Currently, MGEP-MU has a staff of 450 and 2600 students.