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Social perception of biotechnology

Social implication is key both to ensure that biotechnology maximizes its contribution to the wellbeing of the general public in areas like health, food and the environment, and to guarantee that it becomes a significant sector for economic development. The participation of the general public is essential on many levels, from the increasingly active role that many patients and their associations play in medical research, for example, to the need for public support for research and industrial policies that require consistent, long-term investment.

For this reason, Biocat believes it is a priority to work actively to raise social awareness of biotechnology and the latest breakthroughs in biomedicine and innovative medical technology. We do so by holding public debates and conferences to spread information —mainly as part of the program of the B·Debate-International Center for Scientific Debate, but also under the framework of initiatives of other organizations we collaborate with— as well as on our website and on various platforms and social networks online. Additionally, through our work to maintain ongoing presence in the media regarding the activities carried out by Biocat and other stakeholders in the BioRegion.

In terms of public debates, some of the highlights, for their popular, transdisciplinary focus, were the series Culture and Life, co-organized with the Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona (CCCB) in October, and Science in the Kitchen, co-organized with the Girona Regional Government Casa de Cultura and the Technology Museum of l’Empordà. Additionally, the Biocat team has participated in more than 60 public activities —conferences, courses, roundtables, etc.— raising awareness of scientific and business activity in the BioRegion with various audiences, from university students to investors or associations and non-profit organizations (see Summary of public activities 2011).

Biocat has achieved noteworthy media presence in 2011 (300 written appearances, of which 195 were in digital media and more than 30 appearances on television and radio). Media coverage of the presence of the BioRegion of Catalonia at the BIO Washington convention and the presentation of the 2011 Biocat Report was particularly noteworthy, but other highlights include opinion articles (see La biotecnologia ja és aquí published in La Vanguardia) and interviews that have brought an analysis of the sector to a general audience (see the interview with Montserrat Vendrell published in the Empordà weekly).

Biocat website receives more than 185,000 visits

In 2011, we added to the contents to raise awareness of biotechnology and biomedicine available on the Biocat website, which received more than 185,000 visits (146,000 in 2010) and had more than 96,000 unique users. Specifically, we enlarged the Approaching biosciences section, including articles from scientists and experts (green biotechnology, biophotonics, biomaterials, genomics, nanomedicine, etc.) and updating reference sources (documents and links to specialized websites). In total, we published nearly 300 articles on national and international news in the sector.

In 2011, we also promoted the presence of Biocat and biotechnology in social media. We have created and updated profiles on various platforms (Twitter, LinkedIn, Delicious and Vimeo) and dynamized the contents, reaching more than 2,000 followers on the various networks (283 in 2010).