The space won an award for Best Museum of the Year in 2006, the first science museum to receive this recognition
The Leaders visited CosmoCaixa and were welcomed by Joan Rosás, Vice-Chairman of the Spain India Council Foundation, and Ignasi López, Head of the Department of Science and Environment. The museum, which celebrates its 10th anniversary this year, is located on the grounds of Spain’s first interactive Science Museum, opened in 1981. The centre has a permanent exhibition which shows a series of experiments, objects, animals and plants to provide visitors with stimuli and feelings to favour science. CosmoCaixa also offers a range of educational activities for all audiences, such as courses, conferences, sessions and workshops.
The Leaders were impressed by the number of children at the museum. Rajiv Yeravdekar mentioned that “it is thrilling to see so many children learning and enjoying science, given that it often feels so far removed from them.” Rosás answered by explaining that “the project’s main purpose is science outreach, and what better way to do that than by starting with the young ones?” “Schools just have to call and make a booking. The feedback we get from them is that this is one of their favourite outings, and that’s a source of pride for us.”
Ignasi López gave an overview of Fundación la Caixa, which manages the museum. “After 100 years of history, the institution is the world’s third largest foundation,” he stressed. One of its main objectives was to correct a situation in which “only 10% of the research budget went to 90% of the world’s health problems.” “What is the right way?” he reflected: “Supporting not only the best science in the world, but the best science for the world.” He also pointed out that the Foundation’s work is carried out through science outreach, support of international mobility through grants and the allocation of funds to favour research. “We want to develop a responsible research and innovation model to work on areas such as the participation of society in science, access to education, governance, ethical values and gender equality.” The Head of the Department of Science and Environment finished by stating that: “Between 2007 and 2013 we invested almost 90 million euros in those projects, and all that effort has the simple, yet complicated goal of generating benefits for humanity.”
The Indian delegation had lunch with the hosts and, which gave them the chance to discuss the Foundation’s achievements and potential cooperation agreements between the two, highlighting the areas of biomedicine and technology. Lastly, and as the finishing touch to an intensive programme, they received their Indian Leaders Programme 2014 diplomas. Alonso Dezcallar, Secretary General of the Spain India Council Foundation, thanked them for taking part in the programme: “We feel pleased, proud and lucky to have a group like this. You’ve participated actively, and we have learned a lot from you. We cannot thank you enough for your commitment this week.”
Anustup Nayak replied to Alonso Dezcallar on behalf of the whole group: “We can’t tell you how much the programme has meant to us. Not only has it strengthened Spain-India relations, but a strong India-India relation has also been forged, building connections between people with different profiles and the capacity to do great things for the two countries. You have allowed us to connect with people we could never have accessed individually, and synergies have been created. I must admit that, before I got here, I didn’t find the agenda too enlightening. I had no idea that each of the meetings and places visited would be so enriching. The Spain India Council Foundation clearly put a lot of effort into it. They also welcomed us as if we were family, and we have enjoyed every moment, even the constant group photos! We now leave with a clear responsibility to give something back, but as we have already mentioned, we are eager to get started and maybe, who knows, even start a Spanish Leaders Programme in India. We want to thank you from the bottom of our hearts.”