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Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Catalan RDI policy


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 ICREA Programme , which in the course of 14 years has hired 313 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.

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 Catalan R&D policies have also boosted an environment of excellence, being the flagship the CERCA System, made of 44 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 ALBA Synchrotron and 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).

Other Catalan Government’s Ministries contribute as well to RDI policies within their respective fields of competency.

Catalan Government’s R&D and Innovation policies are framed within the subsequent Research and Innovation Plans. And whitin the framework of the Catalan Agreement for Research and Innovation, as well as Horizon2020 and RIS3.

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 here

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.

On 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

  • 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.
  • Catalonia ranks 8th within the European Research Area (NUTS 2 level) in grants of the European Research Council (ERC) for the 2007-2013 period, and it ranks within the Top-10 regions in all Scientific domains. Also, Barcelona ranks 7th within the European Research Area cities in grants of the European Research Council (ERC) for the 2007-2013 period.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Catalonia has 2 universities amongst the best 200 universities in the world, according to the ARWU 2015 and QS 2015 rankings, and 3 amongst de QS Top-50 universities under 50 years old in 2014.
  • Barcelona is the 6th European city in the QS Best Student Cities in 2015, and 19th in the world.
  • 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.
Source: Ministry for Economy and Knowledge, 2015

Last updated: 2015-09-22