The productivity of highly-skilled personnel settles a basis for sustainable growth by stressing on innovation and knowledge generation. Spain has presented erratic attempts within a highly segmented (regionalized) framework that follow the EU2020 Agenda but cannot be understood as paradigm of innovation.
The objectives and actions do not follow a high-level plan to have innovation as a pillar to foster economic growth. Both from a legal and strategic points of view, Spain settles two pillars, to further develop frontier research and to incentivize innovative business, leaving the administration’s role somewhat out of the equation.
In order to foster growth only those innovation that have an economy-wide impact are capable of transforming the economy, and this can only be driven by a strategic objective larger than any business initiative. Governments are the sole bodies capable of such endeavour.
Spain has strategic sectors that could benefit from state-led innovations such as energy, food and automotive, but for this, the government needs to compromise efforts regardless of the macroeconomic situation.
Following the development of the National Research Institute (CSIC) after the 1986 Science Law, Spain should now acquire a competitive position in Innovation. Spain’s R&D+I problem does not rely entirely on low efforts in basic research, with an outstanding scientific production quality. But research by itself won’t make the country an innovative one.
It is thus necessary to introduce an institution, which is already planned (yet not executed) in the 2011 Science and Technology Law, that professionalizes the role of the innovator as a figure that connects the scientific and business world: in other words, an institution acting as a catalyser between scientific excellence and the business innovative needs.
Adding a new stakeholder in the process should fulfil the gap between research and business, drive synergies and help pull research from universities and pushing it to the market.
Fostering a culture for innovation is necessary at all levels to allign all stakeholders and escape from cultural fragmentation in Spain.
Market-push policies within an innovative culture ensure faster adoption. An innovation-based culture settles the ground for knowledge-intensive entrepreneurs, with less risk-aversion; and greater benefits arouse from the "open innovation" when more stakeholders are involved.
The current meritocratic career system in research does not encourage researchers from leaving a public service in pursuit of a private-sector initiative, fearing difficulties in an eventual return to public research.
Additionaly, job stability in the long-run is only granted to the most senior profiles, with many PhD and PostDoc candidates surviving on grants or fellowships, thus reducing the country attractiveness to researchers.
Introducing additional flexibility and cross-sector roles would benefit the technology transfer process, improve the networks and definitely reduce knowledge silos.
Training and continuous educational programs are not new to the private sector. However, training professionals in the public administration is a less common practice. This hinders the introduction of novel projects and models. Public procurement of innovation has specialy suffered the consequences, with a resilient best-price model due to lack of capabilites in evaluating innovation.
Filling the gaps between companies, regions and public research is key to gran success. Through an intensive monitoring system for stakeholder evaluation, it is possible to pick winners for project-based missions that provide the means for Networking.
These communities encourage companies to share their knowledge and build a semi-open innovation system for future collaboration. Through governmental support, companies learn to share information and embrace the administration as a facilitator. This consortia would help creat a market for future open-innovation-based collaborations.