¿Growth without science?

Monday, January 23, 2012

-Production has been excessively delocalized. Moreover, afterwards and in certain very relevant cases, goods are sold through tax havens with a total lack of solidarity.

-The Eurozone hasn’t obtained funds for public works or for use as incentives to businesses, particularly SMEs, while the United Kingdom has issued 75,000 million pounds and the United States 300,000 million dollars, where, moreover, there are clear signs of recovery with respect to growth and job creation. The euro seeks to maintain itself based solely on budget cuts and rapid deficit reduction, politely seeking to please those who to a great extent are responsible for the systemic crisis that pervades the West.

-• And Spain is the country that most urgently needs to grow and create employment, because it was here that the foolish real estate bubble was the largest and had the greatest impact and, nevertheless, the unfortunate decision to cut spending for research, development and innovation has been made. In the last few years, and until 2008, substantial advances were made in both Spain and Europe, where significant additional funds (1.5 billion euros annually) were obtained for basic research through the European Research Council (ERC), which in January, 2007 with the initiation of the seventh Framework Program, gave considerable impulse to our still-lagging European science. I had the honor of presiding the group (ERCEG) which represented the European scientific community and submitted the project to the European Parliament, while obtaining the Commission’s unanimous approval.

For that reason I especially regret the unexpected budget cuts adopted, and the fact that scientific research is being treated as an economic commodity, having assigned to the Ministry of Economy, in unrelated areas and functions, university research centers and the High Council for Scientific Research, mixed centers and scientific and technological parks…, some of which are excellent at both the European and global levels. These are breeding grounds for entrepreneurs, essential for growth and progress, but it must be underscored as indicated above that “there is no applied science if there is no science to apply”. What is essential is the generation of new knowledge. And of all imaginable migrations, the loss of a country’s most talented has the most negative impact.

I think it would be advisable and urgent for a group of parliamentarians related to this essential matter to visit some of our leading institutions devoted to research, development and innovation. For example, are they familiar with the campus of the Autonomous University of Madrid or the Polytechnic University of Catalonia, or the University of Granada’s Health Sciences and Technology Park, or the Andalusian Technology Park in Malaga? Have they visited the National Center for Cancer Research (CNIO) or the Center for Genomic Regulation in Barcelona? I only wish to point out some of the many examples with which one should be acquainted before offering opinions and taking decisions affecting science in Spain, which are often undue and unjust.

In summary, the announcement of budget cuts for research, development and innovation in Spain must rapidly be rectified. Do it. Otherwise our horizons will be even more dismal.