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The Gran Telescopio Canarias at sunset.

Science and technology in Spain relates to the set of policies, plans and programs carried out by the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation[1] and other organizations aimed at research, development and innovation (R&D&I), as well as the reinforcement Spanish scientific and technological infrastructures and facilities such as universities and commercial laboratories.

Spain has become the ninth scientific power in the world with 2.5% of the total number of scientific publications, thus surpassing Russia in the world ranking of scientific production[2] and surpassing Switzerland and Australia in scientific quality.


Science Law of 1986

Law 13/1986 on the "Promotion and General Coordination of Scientific and Technical Research" placed science for the first time on the Spanish political agenda, laying the foundations for research, as well as its financing, organization and coordination between the State and the autonomous regions.[3] That regulation also led to the birth of the national research plan as an "instrument for financing science".[3] It also meant that public research organizations could create companies, as a solution to the lack of companies that encouraged new technologies and the disconnection of the science-technology system with the productive system.[4]

Science, Technology and Innovation Law (2011)

It is regulated by Law 14/2011, of 1 June 2011, on "Science, Technology and Innovation", which entered into force six months after its publication.[5] According to the Ninth Final Provision of the Law, some of its provisions have the character of basic legislation.[6][7] This provides a mechanism for national, regional and corporative entities to cooperate and optimise their resources.[8]

Article 21 of the Law contemplates the pre-doctoral contract.[9]

Science Law 2022

In 2020, the Ministry published the prior consultation on the reform of the Science Law. Through the 2021 Budget Law, the legal figure of the state agency was reintroduced for the State Research Agency[10] (AEI) and the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC), which had been transformed into an autonomous body in 2015.[11] State agencies have greater independence for the management of their budget. A new Science Law is expected to be approved in 2022.

Sources of funding

In 2020, Spain will invest 1.24% of its GDP in scientific research, well below the European average of 2.12%.[12]

Strategic plans

Up to 2020, eight editions of the National R&D&I Plan have been published, covering the period from 1988 to 1991 to 2007–2020, currently in force.[13]

Each year a Work Program of the National R&D&I Plan is approved, which serves as a short-term programming tool, and is managed by the Ministries of Science and Innovation (MICINN); Industry, Tourism and Trade; Education (MEFP); and Environment, Rural and Marine Affairs (MARM).

At the end of 2020 the Spanish Government officially presented its Digital Plan 2025 which focussed on the recovery, transformation and resilience of scientific endeavour as a significant contributor to the Spanish economy. The Minister of Digital Development Carme Artigas has announced that starting from late 2022 the country proposes to set up a secure environment where a wide range of companies will be able to test their risky AI systems for socially sensitive areas such as law enforcement, medical diagnostics or educational intervention.[14] The rules proposed by the European Commission in 2021 will be applied with strict oversight in compliance with Spain's National Artificial Intelligence Strategy (ENIA).[15]

"Nanoinventum" is a project led by the University of Barcelona to incorporate science and nanotechnology principles into elementary school level curriculums. The main objective is to help young people become familiar with scientific language and to cultivate a passion for nanotechnology and science in general.[16]

Public Research Organizations

Public Research Organizations (OPI) carry out a large part of the R&D&I activities that are financed with public funds and usually manage some of the programs included in the National Plans.

Artificial Intelligence Research Institute, belonging to the CSIC.

The following OPI's are attached to the Ministry of Science and Innovation:

The following OPI's are attached to other ministerial departments:

Within the national territory

The Advisory Committee for Singular Infrastructures (until 2006 called the Advisory Committee for Large Scientific Facilities, CAGIC)[17] distinguishes between two types of Scientific and Technological Facilities: Large Scientific Facilities (GIC) and Medium Size Facilities (ITM). Their recognition as such is the responsibility of the Interministerial Commission for Science and Technology (CICYT).

Singular Scientific and Technical Infrastructures (ICTS)

Singular Scientific and Technical Infrastructure (ICTS) refers to a facility that is unique or exceptional in Spain, that requires a relatively high investment cost, and that its importance in research or development justifies its availability.

At present, the following facilities are recognized as Spanish ICTS (outdated list):[18]

In addition, these are ICTS located in Spain, but with international participation:

Medium Size Installations (MSI)

A Medium Size Installation is defined as an Installation that is unique in Spain, requiring an investment cost of between 3 and 8 million euros and a maintenance cost of more than half a million euros per year.

Outside the national territory, with Spanish participation

Spain participates in several international scientific programs and organizations. The benefit obtained from this participation is twofold: on the one hand, Spanish scientists can use the facilities for the development of their projects; on the other hand, the business network has the opportunity to make important business contracts.

Some of the facilities in which Spain participates are:

Scientific and technological fields

Santiago Ramón y Cajal, Nobel Prize in Medicine.


Main category: Spanish physicists

In 2020 Pablo Jarillo-Herrero was awarded the Wolf Prize in Physics, considered the prelude to the Nobel Prize.[19] In 2009 Juan Ignacio Cirac was nominated for the same prestigious award for his research in quantum computing and quantum optics.[20]


Main category: Spanish chemists

Among the Spanish contributions to chemistry are the research of Francisco Mojica that led to the birth of the CRISPR gene editing technique, a term he personally coined. Mariano Barbacid is one of the most internationally recognized biochemists, among his contributions is that he managed to isolate the human H-ras oncogene in bladder carcinoma. This was an incredible breakthrough in the study of the molecular basis of cancer. He currently directs the Spanish National Cancer Research Centre (CNIO).


Main category: Spanish mathematicians

In 2020, Spain ranked seventh in the world in terms of scientific impact in Mathematics.[21] Internationally, centers such as the Institute of Mathematical Sciences (ICMAT), founded in 2007, and the Basque Center for Applied Mathematics (BCAM), founded in 2008, stand out. Carlos Beltrán solved Smale's Problem number 17, finding a probabilistic algorithm with polynomial complexity, and published his solution in 2009.[22]


Main category: Spanish physicians

Michael Servetus described in the 16th century the pulmonary circulation of the blood. Francisco Romero in 1801 performed the first heart operation.[23][24]

Spain has a Nobel Prize in Medicine, Santiago Ramón y Cajal (1906), pioneer in the description of the functioning of the nervous system. Others were on the verge of being nominated, such as Jaime Ferrán y Clúa, discoverer of the cholera vaccine, which put an end to the epidemic that devastated Spain in the 19th century. He would later develop vaccines for tetanus, typhoid, tuberculosis and rabies.[25] Also nominated were José Gómez Ocaña and August Pi i Sunyer.[26] In the 19th century, the Balmis Expedition was the first international health expedition in history, with the aim of bringing the smallpox vaccine to all continents, a disease that was causing thousands of deaths of children worldwide. In 1921, surgeon Fidel Pagés developed the epidural anesthesia technique. The engineer Manuel Jalón Corominas invented the disposable hypodermic needle. Today Pedro Cavadas is internationally recognized for his milestones in transplant surgery.


The galleon, a Spanish invention, enabled the birth of the Spanish Empire and its conquest of the seas.[27] Narcís Monturiol, inventor of air-independent propulsion, and Isaac Peral were among the creators of the submarine. Juan de la Cierva invented the articulated rotor and the autogyro, precursor of the helicopter. In 1907, Leonardo Torres Quevedo (1852–1936) started up the world's first aerial lift for passengers on Mount Ulía in San Sebastián.[28]

Biology and biotechnology

Main category: Spanish biologists

In the biotechnology sector, institutions such as the National Biotechnology Center, companies such as PharmaMar and Zendal and researchers such as Mariano Esteban stand out.

Nuclear energy

Main article: Nuclear power in Spain

Spain currently has generation II nuclear reactors, with the most advanced countries developing the generation IV reactor.[29] It can be said that the father of nuclear energy in Spain was José María Otero de Navascués.[30] Today the Center for Energy, Environmental and Technological Research (CIEMAT) is the main Spanish research center in this area, which has the TJ-II stellarator, and is planning a successor, the TJ-III. Pablo Rodríguez Fernández is a leading researcher in the race for nuclear fusion.[31] Granada is a candidate to host IFMIF-DONES from 2030 onwards.[32][33][34]

Computer science

Leonardo Torres Quevedo, a pioneer of computing.

Hardware and electronics

Main category: Spanish computer scientists

Main category: Electronics companies of Spain

Ramón Verea (1833–1899) created the first mechanical calculator capable of direct multiplication.

Leonardo Torres Quevedo (1852–1936) created moderm wireless remote-control operation principles[35][36] and analog calculating machines that could solve algebraic equations.[37] In 1912, he built an automaton for playing chess endgames, El Ajedrecista, which has been considered the first computer game in history.[38] He also introduced the idea of floating-point arithmetic to computers for the first time.[39][40]

José García Santesmases (1907–1989) built the first analog computer and the first Spanish-made microprocessor. In 1967 he launched the Factor-P, the first computer manufactured in Spain.[41]

In 2016 and 2017 BQ became the third best-selling smartphone brand in Spain, with phones designed in the country.[42][43] Towards the end of the 1990s and early 2000s several companies manufactured laptops in Spain, most notably Airis[44] and Inves.[45] By 2021, Primux, Slimbook, Vant and Mountain already designed and assembled their computers in Spain.[46][47]

Between 1987 and 2009 there was a large microchip factory in Tres Cantos, but it closed due to the difficulty of competing with the Asian market.[48] Currently there are Spanish companies with microchip production capacity on a smaller scale, but which also have design capacity, such as Televés, a pioneer in Europe in the use of DIE electronic components (electronic components without encapsulation)[49] and which also has the capacity to manufacture MMIC circuits,[50] Ikor, and Anafocus, dedicated to the manufacture of CMOS image sensors.


Main category: Technology companies of Spain

Between 1983 and 1992, Spain became one of the largest producers of video games, in what is called the golden age of the Spanish video game. Today FX Interactive, heir of Dinamic Software, is among the most prominent companies.


Main category: Online companies of Spain

At the end of the 1990s IRC-Hispano was the reference as a social community in the Hispanic world. Other software companies that have achieved great repercussion are the search engine Olé, Terra Networks or Tuenti. Today, Wallapop, Fotocasa, Cabify and Rakuten TV stand out.


Main category: Spanish astronomers

The evolution of astronomical navigation, thanks to the contributions of astronomers such as Alonso de Santa Cruz, Juan Arias de Loyola and Jorge Juan y Santacilia was also key to Spain's preponderance in the oceans.

Since 1968 the National Institute for Aerospace Technology has concatenated scientific satellite programs, starting with the Intasat Program, continuing with the Minisat program which was a qualitative leap in the 90's, and continuing up to the current Small Satellite Constellation Program. Many of the instruments used in space missions to Mars and asteroids are developed at the Astrobiology Center (CAB). Among the major contributors in the space area are Emilio Herrera, inventor of the stratonautical space suit, predecessor of the space suit; Enrique Trillas, promoter of space science programs; and Pedro Duque, the first Spanish astronaut.

Science and Technology Parks

León Technology Park.

In Spain there are many science and technology parks, all of them are usually grouped in the Association of Science and Technology Parks of Spain (APTE).

International Programs

The international R&D&I programs in which Spain participates are usually focused on the European area, and the most important are the following:

Popular science

The Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology (FECYT) is a public foundation under the Ministry of Science and Innovation,[51] whose mission is to foster science and innovation, promoting their integration and approach to society. The National Museum of Science and Technology (MUNCYT) is dedicated to conservation and to popular science and technology. It has two sites, one in Alcobendas and the other in A Coruña.

See also


  1. ^ Spanish State plan for Scientific, Technical and Innovation Research (PEICTI)
  2. ^ "España se sitúa como novena potencia científica mundial" (in Spanish). Europa Press. 29 March 2011. Retrieved 19 January 2021.
  3. ^ a b Bernardo, Ángela (14 April 2016). "Envejecida, pobre, superviviente: la ciencia en España 30 años después de su primera ley". Hipertextual (in Spanish). Retrieved 2 April 2022.
  4. ^ Criado, Azucena (25 February 1986). "Los organismos públicos de investigación podrán crear empresas, según la ley de la ciencia". El País (in Spanish). Retrieved 19 January 2021.
  5. ^ The exceptions are that: a) Article 21 shall enter into force one year after the publication of this law in the "Official Gazette of the State". b) Paragraph 5 of article 25, and paragraphs 1, 2 and 3 of the seventh additional provision shall enter into force on 1 January 2014. c) The twelfth additional provision will enter into force on the day following its publication in the "Official State Gazette".
  6. ^ "BOE-A-2011-9617" (PDF) (in Spanish). Boletín Oficial del Estado. 2 June 2011.
  7. ^ "La legislación básica del estado como parámetro" (PDF) (in Spanish).
  8. ^ "The Spanish Science, Technology and Innovation System". 9 June 2016. Retrieved 1 July 2022.
  9. ^ Article 21. Pre-doctoral contract. Employment contracts under the pre-doctoral contract modality shall be entered into in accordance with the following requirements: 1. The purpose of the contract shall be the performance of research tasks, within the scope of a specific and novel project, by those who are in possession of a Bachelor's degree, engineer, architect, university graduate with a degree of at least 300 ECTS (European Credit Transfer System) credits or university master's degree, or equivalent, and have been admitted to a doctoral program. These personnel shall be considered as pre-doctoral research personnel in training. 2. The contract will be made in writing between the pre-doctoral research personnel in training, as an employee, and the public university or research organization in charge of the research unit, as an employer, and must be accompanied by a letter of admission to the doctoral program issued by the unit responsible for said program, or by the doctoral or postgraduate school, as the case may be. 3. The duration of the contract will be one year, extendable for annual periods after a favorable report from the academic committee of the doctoral program, or the doctoral school, as the case may be, for the duration of their stay in the program. In no case may the cumulative duration of the initial contract plus extensions exceed four years; however, when the contract is for a person with a disability, the contract may be for a maximum of six years, including extensions, taking into account the characteristics of the research activity and the degree of limitations in the activity. No worker may be hired through this modality, in the same or in a different entity, for a period of more than four years, except in the case of the disabled persons indicated in the previous paragraph, for whom the period may not exceed six years. The situations of temporary disability, risk during pregnancy, maternity, adoption or fostering, risk during breastfeeding and paternity, will suspend the computation of the duration of the contract. 4. The remuneration of this contract may not be less than 56% of the salary established for equivalent categories in the collective bargaining agreements of its scope of application during the first two years, 60% during the third year, and 75% during the fourth year. Nor may it be less than the minimum interprofessional salary established each year, in accordance with Article 27 of the Consolidated Text of the Workers' Statute Law.
  10. ^ "El Ministerio de Ciencia e Innovación aborda reformas estructurales para la I+D+I con un presupuesto histórico". (in Spanish). La Moncloa. 30 December 2020. Retrieved 2 April 2022.
  11. ^ "El CSIC entra en bucle, de agencia a organismo autónomo otra vez". Ciencia con Futuro (in Spanish). 21 September 2015. Retrieved 2 April 2022.
  12. ^ "España invierte un 1,24% del PIB en ciencia y la media europea está en 2,12%". LaSexta (in Spanish). 13 October 2020. Retrieved 19 January 2021.
  13. ^ "PLAN NACIONAL de I+D+i" (in Spanish). Ministerio de Ciencia e Innovación.
  14. ^ Politico report:Hungry for rules: Spain to test Europe’s artificial intelligence law ahead of time
  15. ^ Spain’s National Artificial Intelligence Strategy according to the Chair on the Legal and Regulatory Implications of Artificial Intelligence at MIAI)
  16. ^ The Nanoinventum project (in Spanish)
  17. ^ "El Mapa de ICT y su gestión" (PDF). (in Spanish).
  18. ^ "Infraestructuras Científicas y Técnicas Singulares (ICTS) – Ciencia – Ministerio de Ciencia e Innovación (es)". (in Spanish). Retrieved 19 January 2021.
  19. ^ "Un español, en la antesala del Nobel de Física". La Voz de Galicia (in Spanish). 15 January 2020. Retrieved 19 January 2021.
  20. ^ "Un español entre los candidatos al Nobel – Ciencia –". (in Spanish). Retrieved 19 January 2021.
  21. ^ "El milagro de las matemáticas en España". ELMUNDO (in Spanish). 14 March 2020. Retrieved 19 January 2021.
  22. ^ "El matemático español que resolvió el problema 17". abc (in Spanish). 5 September 2011. Retrieved 19 January 2021.
  23. ^ "La primera operación de corazón en el mundo fue en Almería". (in Spanish). Retrieved 2 April 2022.
  24. ^ "El cirujano-cardiólogo del Hospital". Diario de Almeria (in Spanish). 2 May 2011. Retrieved 2 April 2022.
  25. ^ "Vacuna contra el cólera de Ferrán – La Historia de las Vacunas". (in Spanish). Retrieved 20 January 2021.
  26. ^ Rafael Camarillo, Blas (10 December 2019). "Los científicos españoles que estuvieron a las puertas de conseguir un Nobel". (in Spanish). Retrieved 19 January 2021.
  27. ^ "Los secretos del galeón". El Comercio (in Spanish). 12 June 2019. Retrieved 19 January 2021.
  28. ^ "Teleféricos: del sueño de un inventor español a terminar siendo una atracción turística en las ciudades". 20bits (in Spanish). 24 May 2021. Retrieved 2 April 2022.
  29. ^ López, Juan Carlos (27 April 2021). "Hablamos con Operador Nuclear: "La energía nuclear es imprescindible si queremos conseguir los objetivos de reducción de emisiones"". Xataka (in Spanish). Retrieved 2 April 2022.
  30. ^ "Historia de la energía nuclear en España" (in Spanish). Radio Nacional de España. 30 January 2010. Retrieved 12 April 2010.
  31. ^ Paniagua, Esther (5 April 2018). "De Vallecas al MIT: el ingeniero que ha demostrado una hipótesis de hace 20 años". Xataka (in Spanish).
  32. ^ López, Juan Carlos (9 June 2020). "Fusión nuclear: qué es IFMIF-DONES y por qué es tan importante que este proyecto acabe finalmente en España". Xataka (in Spanish).
  33. ^ "DONES" (in Spanish).
  34. ^ "IFMIF-DONES | ESFRI Roadmap 2018". (in Spanish).
  35. ^ "Leonardo Torres Quevedo y sus prodigiosos inventos". La Vanguardia (in Spanish). 18 December 2016. Retrieved 2 April 2022.
  36. ^ "Milestones:Early Developments in Remote-Control, 1901". IEEE Global History Network. IEEE. Retrieved 29 July 2011.
  37. ^ Thomas, F. (2008). "A Short Account on Leonardo Torres' Endless Spindle". Mechanism and Machine Theory, Vol.43, No.8, pp. 1055-1063
  38. ^ Montfort, Nick (2003). Twisty Little Passages: An Approach to Interactive Fiction. MIT Press. p. 76. ISBN 0-262-63318-3. In 1912 Leonardo Torres Quevedo ... devised the first computer game ... The machine played a KRK chess endgame, playing rook and king against a person playing a lone king.
  39. ^ "Torres Quevedo" (in Spanish). Retrieved 2 April 2022.
  40. ^ Randell, Brian. "From Analytical Engine to Electronic Digital Computer: The Contributions of Ludgate, Torres, and Bush" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 21 September 2013. Retrieved 9 September 2013.
  41. ^ "Historia de los pioneros, desarrollo del mercado y consolidación de los ordenadores en nuestro país". (in Spanish). Retrieved 20 January 2021.
  42. ^ "Samsung encabeza el mercado de smartphones español". Computing (in Spanish). 24 February 2017. Retrieved 20 January 2021.
  43. ^ "La caída de BQ: adiós a los "fuckin' spaniards"". La Vanguardia (in Spanish). 26 November 2020. Retrieved 20 January 2021.
  44. ^ "JOSÉ VICENTE MOLERA PICAZO" (in Spanish). Retrieved 20 January 2021.
  45. ^ Magariño, Javier Fernández (8 January 2003). "Reportaje – PC españoles, más que clónicos". Cinco Días (in Spanish). Retrieved 20 January 2021.
  46. ^ "Primux, la tecnológica gallega que cambia China por Ourense para fabricar sus ordenadores". La Voz de Galicia (in Spanish). 6 December 2020. Retrieved 20 January 2021.
  47. ^ "Ordenadores | Made in Spain" (in Spanish). 11 January 2021. Retrieved 2 April 2022.
  48. ^ Mcloughlin, Michael (24 April 2021). "Cuando Tres Cantos era una potencia de los microchips: así perdió Europa el tren tecnológico". (in Spanish). Retrieved 2 April 2022.
  49. ^ "InfoTeleves 145 (Diciembre 2014) | Televes" (in Spanish). 16 March 2016. Archived from the original on 16 March 2016. Retrieved 2 April 2022.
  50. ^ "Televes invertirá 23 millones euros – evolucion hacia la industria" (in Spanish).
  51. ^ FECYT Presentation (in Spanish)