From this 2022-2023 academic year, within the framework of the growth of its research and knowledge transfer model, La Salle-URL proposes a new, more ambitious and interdisciplinary research structure with the creation of two new research groups: Human-Environment Research (HER) and Research on Smart Society (SmartSociety). Thus, and under the direction of Dr. Rosa Maria Alsina, the research area of La Salle-URL responds to the present and future challenges of society from a holistic perspective and based on the 17 lines of knowledge in which the work of La Salle-URL researchers is structured.
The two new research groups at La Salle-URL
The Agència de Gestió d'Ajuts Universitaris i de Recerca (AGAUR) has recently published the final resolution of the call for grants to support the scientific activity of research groups in Catalonia (SGR-Cat 2021), which recognizes to the two new consolidated groups of La Salle-URL, granting them a grant of 40,000 euros for each one.
The new research group Human-Environment Research - HER (2021 SGR 01396) is made up of 49 members, of which 35 are doctors, and is coordinated by Dr. Oriol Guasch, Full Professor in the Department of Engineering at La Salle-URL and acoustic expert. The research lines of the group are acoustics, speech processing, interaction, animation and digital arts, Mediterranean architecture, architectural computer representation, computer vision and technology-enhanced learning.
On the other hand, the new SmartSociety group (2021 SGR 01398) is coordinated by Dr. Xavier Vilasís, also Full Professor at La Salle-URL and an expert in data science. There are 50 researchers who are part of the group, of which 40 are doctors. The lines of research are divided into two large branches –challenges of society and infrastructures– that will hinge on data science. The lines will be filoculture, innovation ecosystems, smart cities and digitization, focused on the challenges of society; and software engineering, communications, cloud and edge computing and blended future networks, all focused on infrastructure.
A consolidated research model within the framework of an entrepreneurial and innovative university
Currently, La Salle-URL has nearly a hundred doctors who have published more than 120 articles indexed in Scopus and WoS —the two most important scientific indexing platforms in the world— and work on some 70 projects. These research initiatives are financed by Catalan (through AGAUR), Spanish and European public funds (through programs such as H2020 and Horizon Europe, among others); by public and competitive funds applied to innovation, with institutions such as the Center for Industrial Technological Development (CDTI) and the Agency for Company Competitiveness (ACCION); and for collaborations with companies, which seek to solve complex company problems using the interdisciplinary approach of knowledge and prototypes of La Salle-URL.
In addition, research is one of the three main legs of the La Salle-URL university project —along with teaching and transfer— and one of its main focuses is integrating the experience of students on campus into research activity. Activities and meetings with students are common, as are metting with researchers from other universities, companies and entrepreneurs. The Research area organizes workshops, informative cycles such as Research Fridays, teaching and learning meetings with companies and startups, conceptualization sessions for complex problems, pitching sessions with students about their research and opportunity maps of needs for companies and startups, among others.
The Interactive Arts & Science Laboratory (IASlab), the future multisensory hub of southern Europe
La Salle-URL has two large spaces where research and knowledge transfer are carried out. One of them is already consolidated: the Internet of Things Institute of Catalonia (IoTiCAT), which hosts the multidisciplinary research of La Salle-URL and which was inaugurated at the beginning of 2020. The second of the spaces, the IASlab, will be launched soon.
Thanks to this new laboratory, La Salle-URL will become a European benchmark in the study of the interaction between the real world and the virtual world and the implications and possibilities of this future paradigm of relationships between human beings and machines, in environments applications such as the metaverse and immersive environments. Due to its humanistic spirit and its characteristics, the IASlab will help promote the strategic, scientific and technological positioning of La Salle-URL to become a leading center in media technologies of the 21st century.