Spanish authorities believe their country isn’t as big a science and technology player in Europe as the size of their economy justifies. According to official figures, Spain is Europe’s fifth-largest economy (of the 25 E.U. nations) with a Gross National Income–which partially determines the contribution of individual member states to the European pot–close to 8% of all the income generated in Europe. Spain is aspiring to a larger share of the funding for pan-European research projects and mobility fellowships, a share that’s in line with its economic weight within the European Union. Yet, under the Sixth Framework Programme (FP6), the previous framework programme, Spain only got 5.9% of the money available from the European Union, even less than the 6.5% share the country obtained under FP5.
Now that FP7 is under way–it started in January–the Spanish government has launched the EuroIngenio programme, which they hope will help Spanish researchers get at least 8% of the FP7 funding (which totals more than €50 billion). "The Spanish R&D system has to face the challenge of increas[ing] its participation in the production of knowledge and innovation at a global scale, taking advantage of the opportunities of co-operating through FP7 and other multilateral programmes," Violeta Demonte, director general of research for the Spanish Ministry of Education and Science, writes in an e-mail to Science Careers.
EuroIngenio’s budget of €15.6 million for 2007 will be spent on four fronts. The EuroCiencia programme will help public research institutions attract European funding, whereas EuroSalud will help hospitals, the TecnoEuropa programme will help large businesses, and InnoEuropa will expend its efforts and resources to help small- and medium-sized companies.
EuroCiencia aims in particular to encourage universities to offer more supporting services to their researchers by asking institutions to come up with a concrete plan and rewarding those that succeed in increasing their participation to European projects.
How does this affect young researchers? EuroCiencia is addressed to research centres rather than individual researchers, so "young scientists … should contact the European Project Office (or similar office, depending on the particular institution) in [their] own institution expressing [their] willingness to participate in FP7 initiatives," says Demonte. "In the present context of globalisation, … the participation in international R&D activities, [e]specially in FP7 activities, is a must for all young scientists wishing to develop a scientific career as [a] researcher."