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The Basque Country exceeds the European average investment in Research and Development and strengthens its position among European countries of high innovation

2023 November 7
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  • The President inaugurates the 23rd Science, Technology and Innovation Week
  • The Basque Government increased its support for R&D& I by 12% in 2023 to reach a record figure and in 2024 it wants to dedicate more than 700 million euros
  • The Scientific Advisory Committee discusses the contribution of Science, Technology and Innovation to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals 

The President, Iñigo Urkullu, inaugurated the 23rd edition of Astea—Science, Technology and Innovation Week—at an event held this afternoon at the Alava Technology Park in Miñano, which was attended by around 80 people, including members of the Basque Council for Science, Technology and Innovation.

In his speech, Iñigo Urkullu highlighted that Astea has established itself as a benchmark event open to society, which serves to communicate scientific and technological advances and their impact through innovation.

He also said that the challenge is to advance as an attractive territory for research, innovation and talent, which are the necessary basis to build the future we want. “A sustainable and prosperous future for people and the planet, a future based on solidarity and respect for shared values,” he said.

Thus, he pointed out that we live in times of uncertainty, with a growing need for new models and solutions that meet the challenges of society.

The President concluded by appealing to co-responsibility and shared commitment so that, “from the auzolana philosophy, we can do our bit for the construction of a better future for the Basque Country".

The Basque Country exceeds the European average investment in R&D and strengthens its position among European countries of high innovation

The Basque Country remains today at the head of the autonomous communities in Research and Development and reaches 2.32% of investment over GDP according to Eurostat, above the European average of 2.27% and much higher than that of the Spanish State, which stands at 1.43%.

Over time, the Basque Government has maintained a strategic commitment to science, technology and innovation, which has translated into results. In 1981 there was practically no investment in Research and Development in the Basque Country. In 2001, 619 million euros were invested and, in 2022, according to data provided by Eustat, almost 1.8 billion euros were invested. This means that, in the last 21 years, investment in R&D has almost tripled.

Last week Eustat also reported on our situation in the EIS 2023, the European Innovation Scoreboard that ranks countries according to their innovation performance. The Basque Country is consolidated in the group of ‘strong innovators’ together with countries such as Germany, Austria and France, exceeding the European average. ‘Human resources’, ‘Business investments’, ‘Digitalisation’ and ‘Environmental sustainability’ are all dimensions in which the Basque Country ranks first among the EU-27.

This is a continuation of the improvement indicated by the European Commission in its RIS 2023 report, where the Basque Country advanced 21 places to position itself 72nd out of 239 regions, maintaining it as a ‘hub of regional excellence’.

The Basque Government has increased its support for R&D& I by 12% in 2023 to reach a record figure and in 2024 it wants to dedicate more than 700 million euros.

The Basque Government is working towards continuity to this investment effort, because it understands that it is a strategic commitment to the future of the Basque Country. In 2023 it increased its support for R&D& I by 12%, to reach 658.5 million euros, a record figure. Next year and based on this figure, we want to grow it by more than 42 million, to exceed 700 million in total, as shown in the draft budget presented to Parliament.

These investments are making it possible to promote actions in the three pillars of the Basque PCTI 2030: “Scientific Excellence”, “Industrial Technological Leadership” and “Open Innovation”, as well as in the “Talent” needed to guarantee its development. It also supports the development of large flagship R&D& I projects in public-private collaboration that are applied in the priority areas of smart specialisation.

Faced with a scenario of uncertainty and economic slowdown, the Government remains committed to economic recovery and the generation of employment opportunities. Quality employment in knowledge-intensive sectors, based on research and innovation.

The Scientific Advisory Committee discusses the contribution of Science, Technology and Innovation to the SDGs

After inauguration by the President, the Basque Government's Commissioner for Science, Technology and Innovation, Cristina Uriarte, presented a debate on the contribution of science, technology and innovation to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

The Basque Country is immersed in a triple transition: technological and digital, energy and climate, and social and health, which implies profound and transformative changes that affect not only the economy, but also our way of life and well-being. They therefore affect the Sustainable Development Goals as established by the United Nations and which are included in our 2030 Agenda. These transformations can be threats or opportunities that must be responded to from areas such as science, technology or innovation.

The debate was attended by several of the members of the Scientific Advisory Committee of the Basque PCTI 2030, moderated by Nekane Balluerka, former rector of the UPV/EHU:

  • Maria José Sanz, scientific director of the Basque Centre for Climate Change (BC3).
  • Nuria Gisbert, general director of the collaborative research centre CIC energiGUNE.
  • Mar Mendibe, scientific director of the Biobizkaia health research institute.
  • Juan José Gómez Cadenas, Professor Ikerbasque at the Donostia International Physics Centre (DIPC).
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Politicians attending the event