Urban Science

A recent special by the Nature publishing group talks about the topic Cities and Science. A very interesting set of articles that explores the effect of the urbanization of the world population, in specific on science.

Cities are often considered as “engines of innovation”, which on the other hand is associated with wealth. Interestingly Bettancourt et al. discovered that the growth of an urban centre influences most per-capita characteristics of a city 15% more than the expected linear growth. Amongst them GDP, crime and as well published sientific articles!

The fact that I moved to Barcelona and am doing research here makes it easy to believe these observations. With time I realised that I have been lucky enough to arrive to Barcelona just few years after big investments have been made into science, creating a very prosperous scientific landscape. Namely the opening of the Parc de Recerca Biomèdica Barcelona (PRBB) and the extension of the Parc Científic Barcelona (PCB) including the Institut de Recerca Biomèdica (IRB) have concentrated the local biomedical communities and attracted new laboratories. Apart from that, there is a number of competitive hospitals that are critical to the biomedicine landscape in Barcelona: Hospital Vall d’Hebron, Hospital del Mar, Hospital Clinic and Hospital de Bellvitge.

In the interactive tool on the Nature homepage you can view how different urban areas evolve over time in terms of publications and relative citation rate. Having in mind the investments, you can see how they affected each of those factors: Both total output as well as relative citation have augmented a lot.

How Barcelona and Rome evolved in between 2000 and 2000.

How Barcelona and Rome evolved in between 2000 and 2009. Each dot representing one year for Barcelona and Rome.

In the end, making research in a centre with multiple institutes and a city with multiple research centres has a very practical result (for me and all other researchers): It is very easy to network and find a person that surely can help out with the problems one is facing. Also, It seems that this makes creating new collaborations even easier, not only locally.

A recently published figure links the world-wide collaborations from 2005 to 2009 nicely shows that Barcelona has become a significant hub of scientific research.

Graph mapping collaborations: South Europe

The mapping of the collaborations between 2005 and 2009 shows that Barcelona has become an important scientific hub. Image from http://collabo.olihb.com/