On Wednesday, 1 February 2023, Santiago de Compostela hosted the presentation event for the CIGAT Circular Mixed Research Centre. The event was held at the AquaHub A Vila da Auga building, the headquarters of Viaqua, a Galician company with more than 50 years of experience in the management of the urban water cycle, and its technology centre, Cetaqua Galicia.
CIGAT Circular is a collaborative project between Viaqua, Cetaqua Galicia and the Xunta de Galicia, through the Axencia Galega de Innovación (Galician Innovation Agency, GAIN). With a total budget of 3.5 million euros, the project will be able to generate 12 new and ongoing skilled jobs.
CIGAT Circular is the highest level in the Mixed Research Units Programme and provides continuity for the CIGAT Mixed Units, which started in 2015, and CIGAT Biofactory, which was consolidated in 2018. With the latter, the institutions involved have invested more than 6.5 million euros in moving towards more sustainable resource management.
The event highlighted the major successes achieved so far with the previous Mixed Units, CIGAT and CIGAT Biofactory, which have not only generated new talent with the creation of 10 jobs, but have also helped boost progress “with the development and industrialisation of six innovative technologies, leading to three international patents being lodged, the direct participation of more than 10 companies and SMEs in the Galician innovation sector, the creation of 10 new skilled jobs and the consolidation of a public-private partnership model, which has led to Cetaqua and Viaqua participating in seven new innovation projects and has helped to obtain €3.5 m in European funds for Galician institutions,” said Manuel Cermerón, CEO of Agbar, who opened the event.
CIGAT Circular’s main objective is the decarbonisation of Galicia by converting waste into high value-added resources. In doing so, it integrates five lines of work: “The first focuses on advanced treatments for the removal of microplastics and obtaining reusable water; the second on energy recovery to obtain green hydrogen and biomethane. The third line is based on the production of high value-added bio-composites and the fourth on the recovery of nutrients and cellulose. Finally, a fifth line of work will be carried out based on developing a circular digital platform,” highlighted Teresa Alvariño, manager of Cetaqua Galicia.
In addition, a partnerships framework has been established with the Centro Galego da Innovación da Formación Profesional Eduardo Barreiros, where most of the activities of CIGAT Circular will take place. This collaboration aims to promote innovation and the circular economy in the water cycle, by involving vocational training subjects in Galicia, such as chemistry, energy and water, mechanical manufacturing and IT and telecommunications. In doing so, CIGAT Circular will provide students with training linked to new challenges.
The event was closed by the First Vice President and Regional Minister for Economy, Industry and Innovation of the Xunta de Galicia, Francisco Conde, and the Mayor of Santiago, Xosé Sánchez Bugallo. Conde took the opportunity to congratulate Viaqua , Cetaqua and the institutions involved in the previous Mixed Units for their work. He also stressed the importance of continuing to develop RDI projects that foster public-private partnerships; success stories such as CIGAT Circular that encompass digitisation, innovation and energy efficiency, strategic objectives in Galicia’s agenda:
“We want to consolidate this circular economy-focused research centre, which is one of Viaqua’s and Cetaqua’s major commitments to the region, which also involves small and medium-sized companies, government authorities, research centres and universities and vocational training centres. Public-private partnerships, innovation and knowledge will be essential to meeting future challenges with confidence, and the parties involved must continue working together and joining forces to overcome them successfully.”
“CIGAT Circular is an initiative which we hope will consolidate this research centre focusing on the circular economy. Viaqua and Cetaqua’s commitment to the region includes small and medium-sized companies, government authorities, research centres, universities and vocational training centres. Public- private partnerships, innovation and knowledge will be the key to successfully meeting the challenges of the future, where all the parties involved must continue contributing.”
For his part, Bugallo highlighted the benefits that CIGAT Circular will bring to Galicia and the need to abandon the linear economic model to move towards circular models that convert waste into resources. He also stressed that:
“Research and technology are fundamental to ensuring a water supply of sufficient quantity and quality and a return to nature that does not impact on the life of our ecosystems. Biotechnologies will be essential to achieving this and, thanks to this research centre, we will be closer to achieving a more sustainable and resilient Galicia.”
This is why the CIGAT Circular Mixed Research Centre was created, a project that brings us a step closer towards meeting Galicia’s goals in the fight against climate change.