People who live and share the European spirit.
Pasqual Maragall founded his Foundation ten years ago now. How would you describe the path taken over these years?
It has not always been an easy path, but it has led to positive results, because we have reached the point we wanted to get to ten years ago, and in a highly consolidated way. We are really pleased with the project that has taken shape over time and with how we have grown, and we are also grateful for the support that we have received from the social sphere to help us continue with our work. The Foundation has the support of around 15 organisations and a social base formed by more than 20,000 members who contribute financially to the continuation of the project.
What are the main goals of the Foundation?
Research is the central pillar of the work of the Pasqual Maragall Foundation. In the ten years since the Foundation was established, research into Alzheimer’s has undergone an authentic paradigm shift due to the realisation that a preclinical stage exists in the disease. This is a stage that begins 15-20 years before the first symptoms are detected. From the start, our approach took this new discovery into consideration, and our scientific project is aimed at making advances in research into solutions against the disease.
"Getting companies like Viena to help us raise awareness about the disease is vital to our work."
How do these goals translate into projects?
Firstly, in 2016 we established the Barcelonaβeta Brain Research Center, our own facility where more than 50 researchers and other personnel are engaged in working towards the early detection and prevention of the disease. Secondly, we have launched the Alpha Study, a project involving 3,000 volunteers, the very heart and soul of the studies and analyses we conduct, although this is work that will only produce results in the long term.
You are engaged in working towards the early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease. How do you hope to combat the development of the disease over the next ten years?
In terms of research, we will continue to develop the Alpha project, which is a longitudinal study. We need at least another 10 more years before we start to obtain results from the clinical trials we are conducting today. We also continue our work on awareness-raising and the normalisation of the disease, fields we have focused on in the last decade through various social actions as well as the blog “Parlem sobre l’Alzheimer” (Let’s Talk About Alzheimer’s disease).
This is the first time that Viena has cooperated in this way, and we were clear from the start that we wanted to work with you. How did you feel about the news?
We are really delighted and enthusiastic about this initiative. I have been familiar with Viena since I was very young, and know that this a Catalan family business that has grown over time thanks to hard work and attention to detail. Cooperation from the business sector is becoming more and more important and necessary. Getting companies like Viena to cooperate with us, increasing the engagement of society and raising awareness about the need for more resources to research into this disease, is vital to our work.
What Foundation projects will receive the donations raised through Viena’s initiative?
All funds collected will go to finance the new Clinical Research Unit for the Prevention of Dementia, run by the Barcelonaβeta Brain Research Center (BBRC). This Unit conducts research into the risk of developing dementia within five years in people most at risk of suffering from the disease. This work will help us to determine the causes behind the disease’s advance in some people and to find formulas to prevent it.
"Through just a small effort, people can feel that they are making a really useful gesture."
What are you looking for in companies that you establish alliances for cooperation with?
As we pursue a social mission that is intrinsically linked to health, we work with companies that defend people’s rights and take a responsible approach to environmental issues. We have a very strict ethical code in this regard. We are devoted to people’s health and we have to take this into account in all our spheres of activity. That is why we are working with Viena: because the company conforms to our profile of a business partner.
Worldcoo has created the charitable rounding-up model, and Viena is the first restaurant company in Spain to adopt this initiative. What is your opinion of the emergence of this and other new ways of raising funds?
It is a very good initiative because, with very little effort, a person feels that they are helping a good cause. It is a very good thing, in a mature, aware society, to contribute to such initiatives. And, as regards values, it says much about the company involved and about the society that gives its support.
This is a gift to both sides, because you know that, in the long term, it could even help you yourself. You are investing in a really good cause.