Spanish Congress approves the bill reforming the Law on Science, Technology and Innovation
This is a reform included in the Recovery, Transformation and Resilience Plan that is aimed at strengthening the capacities of the Spanish Public Science, Technology and Innovation System to improve its effectiveness, coordination, governance and knowledge transfer, as well as to reduce administrative burdens.
Likewise, this bill provides more resources, rights and opportunities for public R&D&I personnel, especially young people. In addition, it guarantees for the first time stable and growing public funding for R&D with the objective of reaching 1.25% of GDP in 2030, in accordance with the Science and Innovation Pact.
The Minister of Science and Innovation, Diana Morant, has highlighted that this regulation gives impetus to science and innovation in our country, connecting our system with Europe and the world after a decade of setbacks and cutbacks.
Morant has also pointed out that the bill, which is aimed at resolving the failures of the R&D system, has been debated and agreed upon with the most representative scientific and business organizations, as well as with political groups. The text includes more than 100 amendments presented by the groups, with contributions that have been agreed with 11 political parties.
Improvement of the scientific and technical career in the field of R&D
Among the measures to improve the scientific and technical career in the field of R&D, the text includes a new type of indefinite contract linked to the development of scientific-technical activities for all types of research personnel within the framework of lines of research defined and in R&D contracts.
This indefinite contract, whose application was brought forward through a Royal Decree Law, includes the singularities of the R&D system and is not subject to the limits of the public employment offer or to the replacement rates.
Likewise, the text approved in Congress establishes a new postdoctoral itinerary that seeks to reduce the age of entry into the system and facilitate stable incorporation into it.
Specifically, the standard designs a new contract of up to six years, with an intermediate evaluation that entails promotion and a final evaluation, which allows obtaining the new R3 certificate.
This certificate will make it easier to consolidate a permanent place because part of the entrance exams are exempted and because a minimum of 25% of places in public research organizations and 15% in universities are reserved.
The bill also guarantees new labor rights to young researchers in our country as compensation for termination of predoctoral and postdoctoral contracts.
Measures to stimulate the attraction of talent and professional mobility
The regulation also includes measures to stimulate the attraction of talent to Spain and the mobility of research personnel, with facilities for the hiring of foreign personnel and the possibility of double assignment in our country and abroad.
In addition, the five-year terms of the research staff of the Public Research Organizations (OPIS) will evaluate and recognize for the first time all the merits of research previously carried out in the public sector and in any university, both in Spain and abroad. Until now, the quinquenniums only recognized the experience in the OPIS of our country.
Likewise, the regulation redefines the distinguished researcher's contract to attract prestigious scientific personnel to Spain.
More recognition for research staff
The technical staff of Public Research Organizations acquire new rights, such as the possibility of professional mobility, temporary training stays or collaboration in technology companies.
For their part, the autonomous communities are mandated to include specific categories of health researcher in their statutory staff and develop their professional career in similar terms to other research staff.
Reduction of administrative burden and promotion of knowledge transfer
Another of the axes of the bill is aimed at reducing the administrative burdens of the R&D&I sector. For example, in terms of public subsidies, the regulation introduces measures to facilitate both the procedure for granting aid and that of justification by the beneficiaries.
The standard is also aimed at reinforcing the transfer of knowledge, one of the shortcomings of the Spanish R&D&I system, through new mechanisms. One of them is the recognition of the six-year transfer period to encourage the direct transfer of knowledge and innovation generated in the public sector to companies and society.
Other mechanisms included in the text are the development of public procurement of innovation and permission for public administrations to invest and co-invest in commercial companies, as the most advanced countries do, where the public sector is an enterprising agent that invests and stimulates private investment in R&D.
The reform of the law also contemplates the creation of the Spanish Space Agency, with a component dedicated to National Security, to direct the effort in space matters, efficiently coordinate the different national organizations with responsibilities in the space sector and unify collaboration and international coordination.
The Spanish Space Agency will be in charge of drawing up a Spanish Space Strategy and the law establishes that its location will be promoted based, among others, on principles of social and territorial cohesion, improvement in the functioning of public services and the fight against depopulation.
The law approved in Congress also seeks to resolve the main gender inequalities that persist in the field of R&D. To this end, it will for the first time give legal certainty to gender equality in the Science, Technology and Innovation System, ensuring a dual approach, where the gender perspective is the crosscutting axis of the planning instruments of public agents in science, technology and innovation while implementing specific actions.
Thus, public agents must have and annually evaluate a gender equality plan and also have protocols against sexual harassment and for reasons of gender or sexual orientation.
The creation of a gender equality badge in R&D is also planned for centers that certify that they meet criteria of excellence in this field, in addition to the obligation to implement measures to eliminate gender bias and integrate the gender dimension in R&D projects.
In this sense, equality will also be guaranteed in the selection and evaluation processes for those who reconcile and the promotion of positive action measures will be encouraged. In addition, the fundamental role of scientific dissemination and education to promote sociocultural change and promote co-responsibility is recognized.