The Government, chaired by Pedro Sánchez, has just presented the so-called Shock Plan for science and innovation with the aim of turning the economy to the science of knowledge. A plan that, they point out, has been brewing since the beginning of the legislature with Pedro Duque at the helm, but which has been accelerated by the health crisis – and now also economic – of the coronavirus.
A text that is presented in one of the most sensitive moments for the R + D + i sector in Spain, the same one that was manifested just a few days ago under the slogan “Without Science there is no Future” calling for an end to the cuts in the sector. Maintained since the 2008 crisis and leaving Spain at the tail of investment in Europe. Only 1.2% of the country’s GDP is spent on science, far from the 3% set by the European Union.
With the pillars of the Spanish economy, led by tourism, at low hours, science sees the crisis as an opportunity for the definitive reactivation of the sector as guarantor of quality jobs.
Said crash plan aims precisely to relaunch innovation with the support of all opposition parties. For this, and as explained by Pedro Sánchez, short-term measures have been created for financing in 2020 and 2021. Specifically, 1,056 million euros in direct aid plus 508 million in credits. An important differentiation, since historically much of the investment in science is deserted as it is focused on credits for innovation.
First axis for research
Within these direct aids, the Government’s objective will contribute resources to the Carlos III Health Institute –the one that has borne the burden of managing the coronavirus during these months– together with a Biosanitary Research Law, frozen since 2007.
Of those almost 1,000 million, 53.6 million have been allocated to an urgent plan to vaccine research and projects related to Covid-19. Despite the almost 12 vaccines that Spain is currently studying, the need to strengthen human and material capacity in this area of research has been denoted; one of the most affected after the cuts of the last 10 years.
Another 77.3 million will go to big data for health, genomic medicine, research in advanced therapies, productive medicine and a training plan in precision medicine.
In addition to this, another 29 million will go directly to the reinforcement of the biological security infrastructures aimed at preclinical experimentation within Spain with the idea of reinforcing the country’s presence with respect to international competition.
Second axis: attract and retain talent
“We like our country and we want to do science in Spain,” said Nerea Luis, from the Young Researchers collective.
This would be the second focus that the Shock Plan for science and innovation wants to address in order to “reduce precariousness and retain talent” that focuses on young scientists and the maintenance of applied research centers. After the first Science Law in 1986, the best period for the sector in the country, research has been the pending subject; especially after the 2008 economic crisis that drastically reduced investment and with them innovation.
To do this, they propose the reform of the Science, Technology and Innovation Law to create the stable figure of research staff accompanied by an increase in calls for projects – endowed with 100 million euros – between this year and next. And the purchase of scientific material worth 180 million. Wanted, with it, not only keep the talent, but attract the one that for years has migrated to more competitive countries.
Likewise, it is announced that almost 3,200 researchers will benefit from the extension of temporary contracts between 2021 and 2023. To this end, 20 million euros will be allocated to seek to extend the stability of the research teams.
Third axis of the Shock Plan for science and innovation: public-private collaboration
Without the public sector there is no private sector, and vice versa. The second, in fact, is the one that creates wealth. “The richest countries are not the ones that invest the most in research, they are rich because they invest in research”, explains the Minister of Science Pedro Duque.
At this point, Luis Enjuares, an expert virologist points to an important fact: “For vaccines, we have basic research in Spain, but we have no industry to develop them.” An appeal to private companies to collaborate in the development of a new industrial fabric.
In the Shock Plan, in your third point, look strengthen the private productive fabric for strategic sectors. All through 115 million in grants and 333 million in credits for the innovative company and a knowledge transfer program.
A Startup Law, pending for several years, a new University Law that, through the CDTI, promotes private investment in innovation. And also the public purchase with more than 100 million euros focused on mobility, aviation and research – via financing – of innovative startups.
The article This is how the government of Pedro Sánchez wants to fix science with its new crash plan was published in Explica.co.