Chapter 3

Spain As Homework



Here I am again to tell you my news as I enjoy a cup of tea and some cinnamon biscuits. You could say they’re my latest obsession, because their taste reminds me of torrijas — a sweet we eat in Spain at Easter — and make me feel as if I’m home. We’ve started to work hard now in class. I really like the feeling of making the most of each day!

Marca España is a long term state policy, aimed at streghthening my country image, both among Spanish citizens and abroad.

Now I’m preparing a presentation on the Spanish model of science, innovation and technology — each student has to do the same on his or her country and present it in public. Once again, my classes in Sources and Documentation saved the day for me and I found the information I needed on the Marca España and Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness websites. I think I’ve already mentioned them, haven’t I? They were my salvation when I was in the process of applying for the programme!

We’ve started to work hard in class. As first task each student has to prepare a presentation on his or her country model of science, innovation and technology.

Instead of standing up in front of everyone to describe the importance of the public research system in the development of R&D&I, and explain that the Spanish government contributes almost 50% of the budget that is invested in research, in order to make it easier for my colleagues to understand these issues that can sometimes be quite dense I’ve decided to present this as a practical exercise. So I’ve made a diagram, which has taken some time but which I think will be the best way of explaining myself, or at least this is the way I think I would like people to explain these things to me, so why shouldn’t I empathise with my colleagues?

I think it’s important to say that besides the government, universities and private companies play an important role in the Spanish model, thanks to which sectors such as medicine — particularly medical research, smart infrastructure and technology applied to the fields of information and communication, aeronautics, and the naval and space industries, enjoy worldwide prestige. Not to mention the efforts made by Spain’s regional communities, foundations, associations and non-profit organisations.

It’s important to say that besides the Spanish government, private companies, foundations, associations and non-profit organisations play an important role.

The Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness, through the State Secretariat for Research, Development and Innovation, is responsible for the policies and management of international relations in these areas, including the Spanish representation in forums, organization and programs of the European Union competence.

Um … I think I’ll take advantage of the fact that I’m in northern lands to state NASA’s Sunrise mission as an example. In 2009 this mission launched a scientific balloon into the stratosphere from an Arctic base in Sweden to obtain images of the solar surface. One of the two instruments forming the telescope aboard the balloon, the IMaX, was built in Spain by the National Institute of Aerospace Technology — INTA by its Spanish initials and dependent on Ministry of Defence, the Institute of Astrophysics of the Canary Islands — IAC, the Institute of Astrophysics of Andalusia — IAA, the Group of Astronomy and Science of Space of Valencia — GACE, and the Ignacio Da Riva Institute at the Polytechnic University of Madrid — UPM. The truth is that this is a wonderful example to stress our capacity for collaboration and our competitiveness in innovation. Yes, of course I’ll include the IMaX.

Frankly speaking, I’m very motivated. I’m just back from a walk with Bobby; my best source of inspiration is exercising my body, oxygenating my brain and paying attention to the natural environment. After walking for miles I ended up in a beautiful little fishing village that amazed me. The truth is that I’m so grateful for having been given this opportunity that I want to offer the best of myself. I’m going to get back to work now, as I don’t want to lose track.

I’ll soon be back with more news!

Ah! And if you want to know more about ‘How does the Research, Development and Innovation system works in Spain?’ you can have a look at my notebook where I’ve drafted some official information available that I’m sure you’ll find as useful as I did!