Science, Innovation and Universities publishes a report on regional innovation ecosystems in Spain

The Ministry of Science, Innovation and Universities (MICIU) published the report “New policy approaches to strengthening regional innovation ecosystems: the case of Spain in the EU context”. The report concludes that progress has been made towards a new multi-level governance model for science and innovation policies, with a region-oriented vision that promotes the effective use of the capabilities of all regions, encourages cross-regional collaboration and addresses persistent innovation gaps.

This new approach has been promoted since 2020 by MICIU through various policy initiatives such as the launch Complementary R&D and innovation plansIn 2021, it began co-financing projects in strategic areas in which several autonomous regions participate, which They are expected to raise €466 million until 2025Of these, 299 (64.2%) will be funded by MICIU. This is a flexible model of joint financing and joint governance between the state and autonomous regions that has not been used before in our country.

In addition, in 2020, a new program was introduced to finance research, development and innovation projects in cooperation between technology centers from different regions. he Cervera Aid program for technology centers Funded by the Center for Technology Development and Innovation (CDTI). About 40 million euros annually. The network of science and innovation cities has also been strengthened (Inpulso Network), through a new call from MICIU to recruit local innovation agents in the network’s member city councils, which began in 2021 with Budget of 10 million euros.

On the other hand, the Council for Science, Technology and Innovation Policy, which represents the highest official coordination mechanism between the state and the autonomous regions on matters of science and innovation, has adopted a more collaborative approach and increased the frequency of its meetings (from three meetings between 2011 and 2019, to twelve meetings between 2020 and 2023).

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Moving towards greater regional balance

Another of the report’s conclusions is that although new innovation and entrepreneurship hubs have emerged spread across national territories in recent decades, investment in R&D remains highly geographically concentrated, even more so than overall economic activity. In 2022, Catalonia and the Community of Madrid will focus 52% of spending on research and developmentWhen they represent less than 40% of GDP. This level of focus has grown over the past decade, and since 2012, these two autonomous regions have accounted for 48% of total R&D spending. This represents an important public policy challenge, because current innovation gaps can determine future social and economic inequalities.

Among other measures to address this situation, the Minister of Science, Innovation and Universities announced on April 25, within the frameworkTo the sixteenth meeting of the Council for Science, Technology Policy and Innovation (CPCTI), a A new complementary plan dedicated to knowledge transferwhich will be of a transversal nature and will be designed in cooperation with the R&I Policy Network, in which all autonomous communities participate.

In the face of this challenge, MICIU has increased its funding and support to all regions of Spain in terms of innovation. In recent years, geographical deconcentration of public investment in large scientific infrastructures has been achieved.. Some examples highlighted in the report are the construction of IFMIF-DONES in Esscozar, Granada, an infrastructure for testing and qualifying materials needed to build nuclear fusion reactors; Hy2Use green hydrogen development project in Portolano, Castilla-La Mancha; and the Test Center for Unmanned Systems (CEUS) in Moguer, Huelva; Or the Iberian Center for Energy Storage Research (CIIAE) in Cáceres, Extremadura.

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European context

The report shows how European innovation policies are also adopting a more regionally oriented approach. Specifically, the new European Innovation Agenda, approved by the Council of the European Union in December 2022, seeks to intensify cooperation between European innovation systems, bringing together new instruments such as Regional Innovation Valleys, Partnerships for Regional Innovation, or the Forum Programme. Startup Village.

This roadmap aims to build the critical mass necessary to undertake in a coordinated manner transformative projects that accelerate the green and digital dual transformation and, ultimately, improve the EU’s competitive position and strategic autonomy.

The report concludes that the Spanish CCAA is in an excellent position to successfully attend the new European calls and take greater leadership in future networks of pan-European innovation ecosystems.

Report preparation

To prepare the report, a round of interviews was conducted with directors of innovation agencies (or similar positions) in all autonomous regions, senior officials of the Ministry of Science and Innovation and universities, and with independent experts.

Likewise, a comparative analysis of science and innovation indicators at regional level is included, using national and European sources, as well as a review of relevant documents published by MICIU, the R&D and Innovation funding agencies and the European Commission.

Aileen Morales

"Beer nerd. Food fanatic. Alcohol scholar. Tv practitioner. Writer. Troublemaker. Falls down a lot."

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