Researchers, research groups, entrepreneurs and everyone professionally engaged in research and innovation need a specific environment, often referred to as the innovation ecosystem, that supports and promotes such activities. What promotes research and innovation is funding for projects and actions, but also the right legal environment and tax system, society’s respect for researchers and innovative public procurement, among other factors.
For more than 30 years in Catalonia, the promotion of research has been the legal reserve of the Spanish State, but the Generalitat de Catalunya has also exercised this competency, much more so than the State. This double boost has resulted in significant progress in research, and just recently innovation also seems to be taking shape.
Thanks to all these developments, institutions, researchers and research and innovation personnel have become highly professionalised and include true experts in many fields in Catalonia. The maturity of this system means it can now be analysed to find out what suits our research and innovation. What would we ask a state to do to facilitate Catalonia’s scientific and technological progress? I propose a discussion on this issue and stress the following points:
I shall start with those aspects that are not suitable. Legal or fiscal uncertainty is not desirable. Legal restrictions that prevent institutions from growing and managing themselves logically are not suitable. Restrictions on different knowledge transfer operations are not appropriate. Irregular and decreasing funding for research and innovation is undesirable. Perverse assessment systems that distribute grants and funding symmetrically without prioritising excellence are not suitable. Neglecting funding for infrastructure of all kinds is not what we need.
On the other hand, we do need higher budgets to overcome the frequent precaritiy of our research and innovation centres. And we also need brilliant people, many of them young researchers produced in the country, to be incorporated into Catalonia’s research and innovation system easily and under decent conditions, while also providing them with opportunities for international mobility. A firm commitment to excellence based on objective assessments is needed. We need significant funding for innovation based on disruptive technologies. We need the State to trust in the technologies created here and to buy and use them. We must systematically involve research and innovation in most government actions. We need sensitive and knowledgeable leaders. We need a proper legal and fiscal framework, and a new order in the field of patronage, as well as a new order in the framework of public research institutions.
Now we have to see who is offering all this…