Research and Development policies in Catalonia have a wide consensus among the social, economic and political players, their goal being to become a competitive country in a knowledge society, based on progress through talent, science, technology and innovation. The main strength of the Catalan policy is a continued political and economic commitment, independently of which political party is in the Government at the time.
The Catalan R&D strategy is based on the “funding people, not projects” premise, the most representative being the
, which in the course of 12 years has hired 250 highly talented and internationally outstanding scientists, allowing for a higher flexibility in the Catalan Research System, with a talent attraction and retention model solely based on competitive criteria. The program has recently been externally evaluated, with high qualifications.
The Catalan R&D policies have also boosted an environment of excellence, being the flagship the
System, made of 47 Research institutions, acting in all knowledge disciplines and benefitting from some unique features such as flexibility, autonomy, private management criteria, strong scientific management, university campuses environments and ex-post evaluation processes, among others. Also key members of this environment are the Catalan large Research facilities, unique in Southern Europe, like the
Barcelona Supercomputing Center (BSC-CNS)
Strategic RDI Framework
The Government’s Ministries responsible for implementing the RDI policies are mainly the Ministry of
Economy and Knowledge
(primarily Higher Education and public research policies) through the
Secretary of Universities and Research
, and the Ministry of
Enterprise and Occupation
(implementing market and industry-related innovation policies as well as internationalization) through its agency
Other Catalan Government’s Ministries contribute as well to RDI policies within their respective fields of competency.
Catalonia’s R&D policies are framed within the subsequent
Research and Innovation Plans fostered by the Government.
The current (now ending) Plan 2010-2013 has been committed to strategic orientation of the RDI system and focussing on the coming challenges, talent attraction, and collaboration between the key agents. The forthcoming Plan’s design is currently being finished.
As an evidence of the general agreement on R&D policies, all agents involved (Government, universities, parliamentary groups and the main business organizations and trade unions) signed in 2008 the
Catalan Agreement for Research and Innovation 2008-2020
, committing with the strategy to put research and innovation at the forefront of the country’s agenda.
The Agreement is a shared mid-long term vision (2020), with the aim to guarantee a commitment so as to ensure security and stability in research and innovation policies, independently of the composition of governments and management of the institutions involved, and to enable action by all stakeholders towards a common vision. It states 5 strategic challenges: talent; cutting-edge research; systematic innovation; internationalisation of RDI; and socialisation of RDI. It also defines 3 driving challenges: focalisation and prioritisation of RDI; better governance; and increasing RDI investment.
RIS3CAT, Research and Innovation Strategy for Smart Specialisation of Catalonia
For the period 2014-2020, the European Commission has defined an integrated approach to all funds of the Cohesion policy, through a common strategic framework and a clear setting of priorities and outcomes to be achieved. Also, the European Commission requires that smart specialization be prerequisite to investment in research and innovation co-financed with European funds (Horizon 2020). The member states and regions have to detect their own potential and concentrate European funds in economic areas that truly have the capacity to transform their region.
Within this framework, the Catalan Government has approved the
RIS3CAT Research and Innovation Strategy
, aimed at ensuring that European Union co-financed research and innovation investments are turned into economic growth and jobs.
For more information on RIS3CAT, go
Other Government plans and measures regarding Research and Innovation
Since RDI is a transversal policy, many of the Catalan Ministries have developed, within the framework of the PRI, their specific Plan for Research and Innovation in their field of competences, as well as including RDI measures in most Government Plans.
One the other hand, there are strategies to change the model of competitiveness, the most important one being the
Catalonia 2020 Strategy (ECAT 2020)
. In April 2012, the Government of Catalonia drawn up the Catalonia 2020 Strategy (ECAT 2020), in accordance with the new framework established by the European Union in its Europe 2020 Strategy, and building on the experience gained from the two previous Strategic Agreements for the competitiveness of the Catalan economy (2005-2007 and 2008-2011).
ECAT 2020 establishes objectives and provides a stable framework to guide policies for competitiveness towards the year 2020. This strategy is based on adapting production in line with the model of smart, sustainable and inclusive growth promoted by the EU. ECAT 2020 identifies six priority areas: employment and training; social cohesion; innovation and knowledge; entrepreneurism; internationalisation; and the green economy.
Highlights of the Catalan R&D policy
Source: Ministry for Economy and Knowledge, 2014
- With 1.5% of the European population, Catalonia publishes over 3% of all European papers and receives 2.4% of EU’s competitive funding and 3.4% or the European Research Council’s grants. This means an output 50 to 100% higher than the expected according to the population share.
- Catalonia ranks fourth position in ERA and second in EU countries in ERC grants per population, with levels similar to Northern European countries and Israel.
- Some of the CERCA centres lead the rankings within their specialities: Scimago Report (SIR 2013), CRG is the 9th best biomedical centre in the World; Max Planck Institute (SIR 2013), ICFO is the 1st World Institution in Physics.
- CERCA centres obtain more than 50% of ERC grants in Catalonia and 30% of FP7 funding.
- ICREA researchers obtain 44% of ERC grants received in Catalonia.
- Between 2008 and 2012, the number of papers per population published in Nature and Science by Catalonia’s groups scored similar level to Israel and higher than Germany’s, France’s and Spain’s.
- Publications: Catalonia, with 0.1% of the world’s population, accounts for 1% of its scientific production. The highly cited papers have increased 80% between 2004 and 2009.