The Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness is responsible, via its State Secretariat for Research, Development and Innovation, is responsible for scientific and technical research, development and innovation policies, including managing international relations related to this topic and Spanish representation in international programmes, forums and organisations to the European Union on topics regarding its responsibilities.

2.1.1 Regulatory framework

The objective of the Science, Technology and Innovation Law[1] (hereinafter “STI Act” after its initials in Spanish) is to contribute to sustainable economic development and social welfare by generating, spreading and transferring knowledge and innovation.

The STI Act defines the Spanish Science, Technology and Innovation System as a “system of systems”, integrating and coordinating general State policies with those of the Autonomous Communities and articulating the actions in the public and private (company) spheres via the Science, Technology and Innovation Policy Council.

Spanish R&D&I policy is established based around:

a)     Spanish Strategy on Science and Technology and on Innovation: contains the general framework.

b) State Plan for Scientific and Technical Research and on Innovation: develops the aims and principles of the Spanish Strategy and plans for the specific actions to undertake.

[1] Law 14/2011 of 1 June on Science, Technology and Innovation (BOE no. 131 of 2 June 2011)

Spanish Strategy on Science and Technology and on Innovation 2013-2020

The Spanish Strategy on Science and Technology and on Innovation is the result of a process of coordination between all the public agents with responsibilities in designing R&D&I public policy with broad social participation. The Strategy identifies 4 general objectives around which to draw up the various actions that will cover the whole process of development and application of scientific and technological research “from the idea to the market”.


State Plan for Scientific and Technical Research and for Innovation 2013-2016


The State Plan consists of 4 State Programmes and 2 Strategic Actions which meet the general objectives of the Spanish Strategy and enable the entire funding instruments and modes of participation that the General State Administration makes available to users.

The programmes can be broken down into various subprogrammes, organised into different competitive calls in which resources are guaranteed to be allocated by processes based on international assessment systems.

State Programme for Promoting and Hiring of Talent and its Employability

  • State Subprogramme for Training.
  • State Subprogramme for Hiring.
  • State Subprogramme for Mobility.

State Programme for the Promotion of Excellent Scientific and Technical Research

  • State Subprogramme for the Generation of Knowledge.
  • State Subprogramme for the Development of Emerging Technologies.
  • State Subprogramme for Institutional Strengthening.
  • State Subprogramme for Scientific and Technical Infrastructure and Equipment.

State Programmes for R+D+I Business Leadership

  • State Subprogramme for Business R+D+I. 
  • State Subprogramme for Essential Enabling Technologies.
  • State Subprogramme for Collaborative R+D+I Targeted to the Demands of the Production Network. 

State Programmes for R+D+I Targeted to Societal Challenges

  • Health, Demographic Change and Welfare. 
  • Food Safety and Quality; Productive and Sustainable Agricultural Activity, Natural Resources, Marine and Maritime Research. 
  • Safe, Efficient and Clean Energy. 
  • Smart, Sustainable and Integrated Transport. 
  • Action on Climate Change and Efficiency in the Use of Resources and Raw Materials. 
  • Social Innovation and Changes. 
  • Security, Protection and Defence. 

Strategic Actions

  • Strategic Action on Health.
  • Strategic Action on Economy and Digital Society. 

Annual Action Plan 2013

The Annual Action Plan breaks down the actions set out in the State Plan for Scientific and Technical Research and for Innovation 2013-2016. For research personnel, the four-year coontract is included for predoctoral grants (these previously comprised a two-year scholarship by a two-year contract), along with a new call for postdoctoral training or contracts for R&D&I managers in companies. 

In terms of R&D projects, which can be applied for through the Programme of Excellence and that of Societal Challenges, beneficiaries of calls are afforded the opportunity to choose project duration, which can be two, three or four years. Research groups are also given the possibility of having a main co-researcher in addition to the main researcher, although the latter will be their only interlocutor.

The State Plan also aims to propel company participation in the whole process, both in R&D&I funding and its execution. For this it establishes programmes that propel public/private collaborative projects, boosting funding tools that are underdeveloped in Spain, such as venture capital, and providing loans with very advantageous conditions.

The Objective of the State Programme for the Promotion of Talent and its Employability in R&D&I is to hold competitive calls and thus finance and encourage the training and specialisation of human resources in R&D&I and propel hiring, both in the public and private sectors, as well as facilitating the mobility of researchers.

Sede central en Madrid de la Agencia Estatal Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, CSIC. Organismo Público de Investigación

Headquarters in Madrid of the Spanish National Research Council, CSIC. Public Research Organisation

Ayudas y Contratos del Programa Estatal de promoción del talento y su empleabilidad en I+D+I

Grants and Contracts under the State Programme for the Promotion of Talent and its Employability in R+D+I

Governance of the Spanish Science, Technology and Innovation System

Gobernanza del Sistema Nacional de Ciencia,Tecnología e Innovación

Governance of the Spanish National Science, Technology and Innovation System

State Administration 

Barcelona Supercomputing Centre, BSC. Centro de Excelencia Severo Ochoa

Barcelona Supercomputing Centre, BSC. Severo Ochoa Centre of Excellence

The State Administration encompasses all the bodies that report to the government, including their delegations in the Autonomous Regions and abroad and the various ministries. The planning, monitoring and coordination of the Government’s R&D&I policy are the responsibility of the Government Commission on Scientific, Technological and Innovation Policy.

The ministry that plays the most prominent role in the creation, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of R&D and innovation policy is undoubtedly the Ministry of Finance and Competition through its State Secretariat for Research, Development and Innovation. The main ministries and their responsibilities and activities in these areas are listed below:


Sphere of Activity

Information Point

Ministry of Finance and Competition Scientific research, technological development and innovation in all sectors, and coordination of stateowned public research centres http://www.idi.mineco.gob.es{official languages and English}
Ministry of Industry, Energy and Tourism Energy; development of industrial, commercial (small- and medium-sized enterprises), tourism, telecommunications and the information society http://www.minetur.gob.es{official languages and English}
Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport Education, professional training and universities, the arts, Spanish cultural heritage, the book, state museums and libraries, audiovisual activities and Spanish culture.  http://www.educacion.gob.es{official languages}
Ministry of Public Works Infrastructure; air, maritime and state-run overland transport; and housing http://www.fomento.gob.es{official languages}
Ministry of Health, Social Services and Equality Health, health planning and care, consumer affairs, social cohesion and inclusion, family, protection of minors and care for dependent or disabled persons, and equality http://www.msssi.gob.es{official languages, English and French}
Ministry of Agriculture, Food and the Environment The environment, rural development, agricultural resources, livestock and fishing resources, and the food and agriculture industry http://www.magrama.gob.es{official languages, English and French}

Main Ministries

In addition, the STI Act defines two national funding organisms, both attached to the Ministry of Finance and Competition:

  1. The National Research Agency (its founding set out in the STI Act) will be aimed at fostering the creation of knowledge in all scientific and technical fields and, using scientific or technical merit as an assessment criterion, it will manage the funding, assessment and verification of scientific and technical activity.
  2. The Centre for Industrial Technological Development (CDTI) is responsible for fostering innovation and uses technical or market merit and the socioeconomic impact of projects as a criterion for allocating resources.

Autonomous regions

The Spanish Constitution recognises the authority of the Autonomous Regions in regard to various R&D and innovation policies. For example, they are responsible for financing and managing public universities and hospitals, two key factors for generation knowledge in Spain. Similarly, the majority of Autonomous Regions have their own R&D and innovation policy, including specific plans and calls for proposals. The STI Act includes mechanisms to coordinate regional and national actions in this area.

Puntos de información en las Comunidades Autónomas




Aragon  http://www.aragon.es



Balearic Islands http://www.caib.es
Canary Islands



Cantabria http://www.cantabria.es
Castile-La Mancha



Castile and León http://www.jcyl.es



















Navarra http://www.navarra.es
Basque Country





La Rioja



Information points in the Autonomous Regions

Singular Scientific and Technical Infrastructures (ICTS)

Gran Telescopio de Canarias

Large telescope of the Canary Islands

In Spain there are over fifty large facilities afforded this denomination. They are dedicated to the practice of avant-garde science and require international collaboration. They are unique in kind and require sizeable investments, both in infrastructure and in specialist personnel. As they are tools at the service of the scientific and industrial community, they have an “Access Protocol” to regulate their use by scientists and other external users.

Further details and the full list of ICTS at: http://www.idi.mineco.gob.es

Large International Scientific Facilities

The Spanish Strategy on Science and Technology and on Innovation 2013-2020 and the State Plan for Scientific and Technical Research and for Innovation 2013-2020 identify participation in the construction and use of Large International Scientific Facilities and in their associated International Bodies as a key action line. These facilities offer the most advanced resources, indispensable for boosting the quality of our research results and international technological development, as well as improving the competitiveness of our companies and their external projection. At present, Spain is participating in the following large facilities and international scientific/technological infrastructures:

  • CERN: European Laboratory for Particle Physics
  • ILL: Institut Laue-Langevin
  • ESRF: European Synchrotron Radiation Facility
  • XFEL Europeo: European X-ray Free Electron Laser
  • ITER: International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor
  • JET: Joint European Torus
  • ESO: European Organisation for Astronomical Research in the Southern Hemisphere
  • CPE: Comité Polar Español
  • EFI: European Forest Institute
  • INL: International Iberian Nanotechnology Laboratory
  • E-Ciencia: a través de iniciativas como EGI (European GridInitiative), IBERGRID, y GÉANT
  • GBIF: Global Biodiversity Information Facility
  • PRAC E: Partnership for Advanced Computing in Europe
  • EMBO/EMBL/EMBC: European Molecular Biology Organization, Laboratory and Conference
  • IODP /ICDP: Integrated Ocean and Continental Drilling Programs
  • CECAM : Centre Européen de Calcul Atomique et Moléculaire
  • ESS-Bilbao: Sede Española de la Fuente Europea de Neutrones por Espalación
  • ESA: Programa Científico de la Agencia Espacial Europea

(1) Ley 14/2011, de 1 de junio, de la Ciencia, la Tecnología y la Innovación (BOE núm. 131 de 2 de junio de 2011)

2.1. 2. Indicators


The Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology (FECYT) supports the Secretariat of State for R&D&I in monitoring and assessing indicators through the Spanish R&D&I Observatory, ICONO.

ICONO prepares an Annual Report on Indicators of the Spanish Science, Technology and Innovation System detailing the System’s economic and human resources and the results of Spain’s scientific research, development and innovation activities.

From this publication, which most recently presented data from 2011, it emerged that the cost of R&D to the Spanish Government amounted to 1.33% of GDP. In terms of the cost by financing sector, state administrations assumed 48.5% of the cost of R&D, companies 44.3%, foreign investment 6.7% and Private, Not-for-Profit Institutions 0.6%.

Broken down by Autonomous Region, the Basque Country (2.1%), Navarre (2.05%) and Catalonia (1.55%) are those that in 2011 spent more than the national average on R&D in terms of cost as a proportion of GDP.

The number of people employed in R&D on FTE (Full Time Equivalent) was 215,079 people, or 11.9 per thousand of the total employed population, of which 130,235 were researchers on FTE. Broken down by Autonomous Region, Madrid (23.8%), Catalonia (20.7%) and Andalusia (11.8%) together made up over 50% of the total personnel employed in R&D.

In 2011, scientific production in Spain was in tenth place in the world ranking, with 3.17% of the world total.

In terms of impact the most significant areas are Energy, Veterinary and Material Sciences, and the Autonomous Regions of Madrid, Catalonia and Andalusia have the most publications of the national total.

In terms of innovation data, in 2011 the number of companies with technological innovation was 27,203 and the costs of innovation activities were €14,756 million. Innovative companies undertaking R&D activities represented 5.04% of the total business network in Spain.

The Autonomous Regions with the largest numbers of companies with innovative activities are Catalonia (5,434), Madrid (4,556), Andalusia (2,909) and Valencia (2,876), while expenditure on innovation is concentrated in Madrid, Catalonia and the Basque Country.

The total patents applied for by residents in Spain were 3,398, of which 2,582 were approved. The number of spin-off companies founded in Spain in 2011 was 111, and investment in venture capital reached €94.9 million.

The return achieved by Spain under the 7th EU Framework Programme over 2007-2011 was 7.9%. Companies with 31% and Universities with 23.4% were the institutions that received the most funding. The Autonomous Regions of Madrid (30.4%), Catalonia (29.3%) and the Basque Country accumulated the highest return.

Last Update: Wednesday January 28 2015 03:43:45 pm