The Spanish Science, Technology and Innovation System
The Act 14/2011 of 1st June on science, technology and innovation (hereinafter, STI Act, from its initials in Spanish) defines the Spanish Science, Technology and Innovation System as a "system of systems" that integrates and coordinates general State policies with those of the Autonomous Regions and articulates the actions in the public and private (company) spheres via the Science, Technology and Innovation Policy Council.
The Ministry of Science, Innovation and Universities, assumes the responsibility for fostering research and innovation, and the management of international relations in this area and the Spanish representation in programs and international organizations, and the EU.Nevertheless, other Ministries also participate in the creation, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of R&D&I policy.
The Spanish System for Science, Technology and Innovation is coordinated, assessed and analysed through the following committees and instruments:
It isthe general coordination body for scientific and technical research and it is made up of members of the Government and the Autonomous Regions.
This council is chaired by the Minister of Science, Innovation and Universities with the assistance of the Ministers for Defence and for Education, Culture and Sport, and representatives from the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation; the Treasury and Public Administrations; the Home Office; Development; Energy, Tourism and Digital Agenda; Agriculture and Fisheries, Food and the Environment, and Health, Social Services and Equality. Similarly, the Heads of R&D&I for the seventeen Autonomous Regions also take part.
The duties of these representatives include drafting, together with the Ministry of Economy, Industry and Competitiveness, the proposals of the Spanish Strategy for Science, Technology and Innovation, to know the state plans for R&D&I, and those of the Autonomous Regions, to approve criteria for the exchange of information between the AGE and the Autonomous Regions, to promote joint actions, to encourage joint measures for transfer and innovation and to issue reports for the Government and the Autonomous Regions.
It enjoys the participation of the scientific and technological community, and of economic and social agents in R&D&I in Spain. The Council is made up of fourteen members from the scientific and technological community of recognised prestige, and the most representative business associations and trade unions (at least two thirds must be noted members of the scientific, technological and innovation community). The regulations for their structure and operation are in line with the principles of quality, independence and transparency.
Their duties include recommending modifications, making contributions and knowing about the development of the Spanish Strategy for Science and Technology and Innovation, and the state plans, Advising the Government and the Council on Scientific and Technological Policy and Innovation and promoting the introduction of assessment mechanisms in the Spanish System for Science, Technology and Innovation.
It is the instrument for data capture and analysis for the drafting and monitoring of the Spanish Strategy on Science and Technology and on Innovation and of the State plans for research, development and innovation.
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 the 2016 edition it emerged that the cost of R&D to the Spanish Government amounted to 1.23% of GDP in 2014. In terms of the cost by financing sector, state administrations assumed 45.5% of the cost of R&D&I, companies 46.4%, foreign investment 7.4% and private, not-for-profit institutions 0.7%.
In the distribution by Autonomous Regions, the Basque Country (2.03%), the region of Navarra (1.75%), the Community of Madrid (1.68%) and Catalonia (1.47%) were the communities which, in 2014, had a level of expenditure on R&D&I in relation to the GDP above the national average.
In 2014, personnel employed in R&D&I, on a full-time equivalent (EJC), amounted to 200,233, 11.5‰ of the total of the working population and, within this group, 122,235 people, on a full-time equivalent, were researchers. By Autonomous Regions, the Community of Madrid (23.2%), Catalonia (21.9%) and Andalusia (11.8%) together made up more than 50% of the total number of people employed in R&D&I.
In 2014, scientific production in Spain was ranked in tenth position in the global ranking, at 3.19%.
From the point of view of excellence, in 2014, the most relevant areas were energy, veterinary sciences and chemical engineering, whereas Catalonia, Madrid and Andalusia were the communities with the highest number of publications out of the national total. Also, the United States, the United Kingdom and France were the countries with whom Spain most collaborated on scientific production during the five-year period from 2010-2014.
As regards the figures for innovation in 2014, there were 18,511 technological innovation businesses and expenditure on innovation amounted to 12,960 million Euros. Innovative companies undertaking R&D&I activities represented 5.5% of the total business network in Spain.
The Autonomous regions with the highest number of businesses who carry out innovative activities (understood as those who have introduced technologically new or improved products to the market or technologically new or improved processes in their goods production methods or the provision of services in the last three years) are Catalonia (3801), the Community of Madrid (2809), the Community of Valencia (1780), Andalusia (1715) and the Basque Country (1656), whereas expenditure on innovation is concentrated in the Community of Madrid, Catalonia, the Basque Country and Andalusia.
In 2015, a total of 2760 applications for patents were received from residents in Spain. 2274 were accepted in that same year.
Lastly, the Spanish return from the 8th EU Framework Programme for the period 2014-2020 (Horizon 2020) in 2015 amounted to 9.,8%. Businesses, with a figure of 44.5%, and universities with 15.7%, were the institutions which obtained most funding, and Catalonia (25.7%), the Community of Madrid (24%) and the Basque Country (21.7%) were the communities who accumulated the greatest portion of funding.
The objective of the STI Act is to contribute to sustainable economic development and social welfare by generating, spreading and transferring knowledge and innovation.
Spanish R&D&I policy is based around:
It gives an overview of the framework of the Spanish System for Science, Technology and Innovation; the basic shared principles which must be considered when defining public R&D&I policies; certain general objectives aligned with the aims of the strategy; lines of priority of a transversal nature, and coordination mechanisms which refer to the principles of coordinated management in the Public administration measures on R&D&I.
The Spanish Strategy on Science, Technology and Innovation 2013-2020 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". These objectives are: Promotion of R&D&I talent and its employability, Excellent scientific and technical Research, R&D&I targeted towards societal challenges and Business leadership in R&D&I.
It develops the national programmes and subprogrammes defined at the service of the objectives and principles of the Spanish Strategy on Science, Technology and Innovation.
It covers the list of annual actions and Calls developed by the national programmes and establishes a calendar of proposed public Calls, in which the characteristics of the aid, recipients, deadlines for presentation and the ruling of proposals are indicated together with the relevant management bodies.
The STI Act defines two national funding organisms, both attached to the Ministry of Science, Innovation and Universities:
The National Research Agency (AEI) is aimed at fostering the creation of knowledge in all scientific and technical fields and, using scientific or technical merit as an assessment criterion, it manages the funding, assessment and verification of scientific and technical activity. The purpose of this mission is therefore to promote research in science and technology in all areas of knowledge through the competitive and efficient allocation of public resources, the monitoring of the measures funded and their impact, and guidance in the planning of the measures or initiatives through which the R&D&I policies of the National State Administration (AGE) are implemented.
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.
In Spain there are more than fifty major institutions which receive the name of singular scientific and technical infrastructures (ICTS). These infrastructures are dedicated to avant-garde science and require international collaboration. They are unique in their kind and their maintenance requires very high investment, both in infrastructures and in specialised personnel. The ICTS provide tools to the service of the scientific and industrial community, and therefore have a "protocol of access" to regulate their use by scientific and external personnel.
Further information can be found on the web page of the Ministry of Science, Innovation and Universities, together with a full list of ICTS. The following figure gives a map of the ICTS.
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 18 large facilities and international scientific and technological infrastructures: Centre Européen de Calcul Atomique et Moléculaire (CECAM), European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), European Forest Institute (EFI), European Grid Initiative (EGI, e-ciencia), European Molecular Biology Conference (EMBC), European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL), European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO), European Organisation for Astronomical Research in the Southern Hemisphere (ESO), European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF), European X-ray Free-Electron Laser (European XFEL), Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF), GÉANT (e-ciencia), Iberian Grid Infrastructure Conference (IBERGRID, e-ciencia), Institut Laue-Langevin (ILL), International Iberian Nanotechnology Laboratory (INL), International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER), Joint European Torus (JET) and Partnership for Advanced Computing in Europe (PRACE).