Spain is just one European country experiencing financial difficulties. In these circumstances, innovation plays a key role in moving the country out of recession and ensuring sustainable economic development. In this regard, in December 2012, the Spanish government presented a “Strategy for Sustainable Economic Growth”, the implementation of which will extend until 2020. The main aim of this strategy is to update the national economic model, to provide growth through its modernization on an innovative basis.
In July 2012, to realize the abovementioned objectives, the Spanish government prepared the State Innovation Strategy aimed to stimulate technological and innovative development in five key areas:
- Creation of necessary financial conditions to increase funding for enterprises’ innovative activities;
- Promotion of innovative activities in enterprises by increasing the state demand for innovative products; (There are the following innovative markets, such as health care, "green" economy, science industry, that produce necessary equipment for R&D and modernization of state management system.)
- Promotion internationally of Spanish companies that use innovation;
- Consolidation of regional cooperation in the sphere of innovation;
- Training of specialists and attraction of scientists, engineers and managers in innovative sphere to Spanish companies.
Tools for innovative development used in Spain at the present time:
- A system of tax deductions of expenditure on R & D and innovation, carried out by national companies;
- Domestic enterprises are provided with 40% bonus on contributions to social insurance funds attributable to personnel engaged in R&D and IT-technologies;
- Within the Ministry of Science and Industrial and Technological Development an Innovation Center was established. Since 2009, local enterprises may address this center to raise funds for research and innovation. The Center not only provides funding for such expenses, but also assists in obtaining loans from banks through financing technological innovation and receiving grants from the 7th Framework Programme of the European Union for Research and Technological Development;
- Under the Ministry of Industry, the Tourism and Trade the National Innovative Company was established to provide loans to small and medium-sized enterprises in the country, including their innovative development.
The Law on Science, Technology and Innovation, passed on June 1, 2011, should play an important role in stimulating innovation development in Spain. This law specifies the mechanisms to help to improve the management of science and regulation of researchers’ professional career.
Another direction of Spanish innovation policy is the implementation of projects to create technology research consortia (CENIT, NSKTI), Fund of Funds and the “Torres Quevedo” program. National Strategic Consortia for Technology Studies (NSKTI) are a practical solution to improve the interaction between public and private organizations by creating and co-financing NSKTI.
During the years of the economic growth and thanks to foreign capital inflows, Spain secured an advantage over some other European countries. It was able to create a number of progressive industries in areas including automotive, aerospace, biotech, IT-technologies, environmental protection, renewable energy and energy efficiency, as well as agro-business. These industries have the highest "modernizing" potential, and can be “engines” of a national innovation system to change the face of Spain in the global economy. After all, these industries are able to generate demand for advanced technology and innovation, to increase production and export of modern and competitive products.
When speaking about Spain, the autonomous communities, namely Madrid and CATALONIA, which account for 54% of national innovation spending. According to the "European cities and regions of the future 2010/2011," fDi magazine rating, Catalonia was recognized as the South European region with the best economic prospects. Taken into account are aspects such as the region's economic potential, human resources, quality of life, atmosphere for doing business, infrastructure and investment policy.
Catalonia spends 1.64% of its GDP on R & D; while research activities carried out in this Spanish region make up nearly 1% of the world’s total (which is comparable to Finland and Scotland). Within Catalonia’s industry both innovative (audiovisual sector, ICT, etc.) and high technology (pharmaceuticals, biotechnology, etc.) branches play important roles.
Catalonia is also a leader in human health clinical research. Six of the 215 hospitals in Catalonia are leaders in Spanish scientific activity. In Catalonia, there are also numerous research projects carried out by prestigious universities and hospitals.
Among major projects of the Catalonian scientific infrastructure, the most significant are synchrotron ALBA (the first particle accelerator in Southern Europe), the supercomputer MareNostrum (the most powerful in Spain and one of the largest in Europe), the Institute IDIADA (specializing in development of products for the automotive industry) and, the National Center for Microelectronics (the largest Spanish public microelectronics center).
The region's capital, Barcelona, is one of the innovative leaders in Europe:
In the construction industry - it is the best example of reconstruction in the past 30 years. Over the period, Barcelona has been transformed from a depressed industrial city into a center of tourism and creative industry, into a place with a high standard of living. There is an innovative area, located in a former industrial area, "Poblenou", in the San Marti. The aim of @22 project is to turn the "Poblenou" into the technological and innovative area of Barcelona, as well as to increase the number of residential and recreational buildings. Ten university centers are located on the territory of @22.
In the service sector, medical and social services develop rapidly, as far as ICT, media, audio-visual sector, logistics, tourism and education. Thus, the cost of leasing office space in Barcelona is one of the most attractive in Europe.
When considering the country overall, it may be noted that the level of education is not high enough, and it is one of the main constraints to the Spanish economy’s modernization. Yet, with respect to Catalonia, and Barcelona as its center, it should be stressed that Barcelona is one of Europe’s largest centers of innovative international education. In this region, one can speak of an actively developing Innovative Culture, created through a totally new system of education, which depends on the quality of human capital and, ultimately, the prospects for national economic modernization. It is changing over to an innovative development model and creating an Innovative Culture population.
Perhaps, due to its innovative approaches in education and an understanding that youth has a dramatic effect on Innovative Culture formation, Catalonia has become one of Europe’s innovative leaders, while Spain, overall, took only 18th place in an innovation indicator (published in a report by the European Commission on the situation in the field of innovation in the European Union, February 2013).
“INNO-MIR” Interregional Innovative Development Center invites you to take part in the international educational program on innovations in education, "Innovative culture of Spain", organized jointly with the Open University of Catalonia, Barcelona, Spain.