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Economic Affairs, Employment and Social Security

Research, Development and Innovation

Sunday 31 December 2017

There is a broad consensus on the importance of science, technology and innovation in economic development. Science, technology and innovation policy in Spain is based on the Law to Boost Scientific and Technical Research and its General Coordination 13/1986, of 14 April, which was subsequently repealed. The profound changes witnessed over the past 30 years have led to the adoption of a new legal and regulatory framework: the Science, Technology and Innovation Act 14/2011, of 1 June.

The Spanish System of Science, Technology and Innovation is comprised of a raft of institutions that this Act classifies from a functional point of view in three areas: coordination and definition of policies, driving R&D+i, and implementation.

Boosting R&D+i at a State level

Boosting science, technology and innovation policy and the definition of the main instruments to boost R&D+i at a State level fall to the State Secretariat for Research, Development and Innovation under the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Competition, which includes the satellite Public Research Agencies, responsible for the direct implementation of a large part of scientific and technical research in the country.

State Research Agency

The State Research Agency is an instrument to manage public funding for R&D+i activities. The goal is to guarantee accountability, improve and extend the monitoring of actions, streamlining the management of available funds, reducing administrative burdens and standardising procedures. This new management model must lead to a significant improvement in the planning of actions and provide calls for proposals with the stability that research activities require.

2017-2020 State Scientific and Technical Research and Innovation Plan

The State Secretariat for Research, Development and Innovation, under the Ministry of Economic Affairs, Industry and Competition is working to approve the State Scientific and Technical Research and Innovation Plan for the period 2017-2020.

The State Scientific and Technical Research and Innovation Plan constitutes the multiannual framework of reference for the design of Central Government's actions within the framework of the Spanish Science, Technology and Innovation Strategy. Articles 42 and 43 of the Science, Technology and Innovation Act, of 14 July 2011, attribute the powers of Central Government to the State Secretariat for Research, Development and Innovation under the Ministry of Economic Affairs, Industry and Competition as the sub-department responsible for R&D+i, and for drawing up the proposal for the State Plan.

As part of the approval process of the Plan, contributions were received from more than 70 independent experts, including (a) those responsible for the planning and management of R&D+i subsidies, and those responsible for sector policies of Central Government; (b) representatives of those responsible for implementing R&D+i activities and beneficiaries of these subsidies - researchers, universities, public research agencies, other research agencies, companies, technology centres, technology platforms, research centres of the National Health System, etc; (c), representatives of the Conference of Rectors of Spanish Universities, scientific, business and technology societies, associations of groups of beneficiaries of subsidies under the State Plan, etc., and (d) other independent experts with a proven track-record in designing public R&D+i public policies at a national and international level.

The State Scientific and Technical Research and Innovation Plan contains actions by Central Government aimed at promoting and boosting the generation of scientific and technological knowledge, its application and transfer. They are thus an essential part of the public policies designed with a single goal: to drive scientific research, industrial research, experimental development, technological advancements and innovation as key activities for the scientific, social and economic progress of our country.

The 2013-2020 Spanish Science, Technology and Innovation Strategy

The 2013-2020 Spanish Science, Technology and Innovation Strategy was approved on 2 February 2013 as one of the instruments for "fostering economic growth and competitiveness in the country". This Spanish strategy steers R&D+i policies towards the creation of capabilities and, above all, the production of results.

The aims of the Spanish Science, Technology and Innovation Strategy are:

  • To recognise and promote R&D+i talent and employability.
  • To foster excellence in scientific and technical research.
  • To support business leadership in R&D+i.
  • To foster R&D+i activities targeting society's overarching challenges and, in particular, those affecting Spanish society.

The deployment of the Spanish Science, Technology and Innovation Strategy also provides for a set of cross-cutting measures that lay the foundations for our work. The horizontal pillars identified are:

  • The definition of an environment favouring the development of R&D+i.
  • Boosting specialisation and aggregation in knowledge generation.
  • Fostering the transfer and management of knowledge and the search for long-term commitment in public/private R&D+i collaboration.
  • Support for internationalisation and promotion of international leadership.
  • The definition of a highly competitive territorial framework based on the "smart specialisation of the territories".
  • The spread of scientific culture.