There is broad consensus among experts in both economic and social fields about the key role technological innovation and scientific research plays in the recovery of the Spanish economy after the Covid-19 pandemic.
Experts say now is the time to use qualified scientific talent as the engine for economic recovery in Spain. In view of the importance of the scientific and technological sector, the debate ‘Innovation, talent management and scientific research’ was held last week. It was co-organised by the newspaper La Vanguardia.
The debate focused on the role both the public and private sectors can play in technological and scientific advancements. The three essential factors ‘Companies’, ‘Investment in Research and Development’ and ‘Talent management’ were central to this.
Narrowing the technology gap between large companies and SMEs
According to the participants in the debate, the main focus should be on the innovation plans of SMEs. On the one hand, they represent by far the largest part of the Spanish economy. On the other hand, large companies have focused and invested in the technological innovation for a long time.
In order to reduce the technology gap between large companies and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), it is essential to support these smaller companies directly. There was a call for government investment in start-ups, which need more money to be competitive on a global level. Private, local investments are usually not enough to operate successfully beyond your own borders.
More government investment in Research & Development
The time is right for Spain to invest in Research and Development (R&D). For over ten years, the investment made by the Spanish government in R&D has been well below the European average. For an economy that ranks fifth in Europe, to dangle in 18th place at the bottom in terms of investment in R&D is nonsensical.
According to the experts, government investment should increase from the current €650million to €900million. This would also stimulate private investment in R&D, bringing Spain to an average European level of 2.1% of gross domestic product instead of the current 1.6% of GDP.
The debate argued for greater focus on international research, aimed at improving business strategies that can also be used to exert more influence internationally. Spanish companies do not feature at the top of any European rankings. However, in various sectors they are often within the top 10.
The speakers believe the Catalan and central government should better collaborate to further advance science and technological development. Finally, they stressed the importance of investing in employment of women in scientific and technological professions. There is still a large gender inequality in this sector in Spain.
Speakers for the debate were Miquel Roca Junyent, president of the Societat Econòmica Barcelonesa d’Amics del País; Jordi Marín, General Manager of the Associació Catalana d’Empreses Consultores; Josep Samitier, director of the Instituto de Bioingeniería in Catalonia; Núria Bayó, Head of Academic Programs at the Institute of Science and Technology (BIST) and Alex Roig, Director of SciTech Diplohub.