Policy Background

The structure and basis of operation for Spain's research, development and innovation (R&D+i) system are established in the Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) Act 14/2011. This act laid out a legal and regulatory framework that integrates and coordinates general state policies with those of autonomous regions. The objective of this act is to contribute to sustainable economic development and social welfare by generating, spreading and transferring knowledge and innovation. 

The Spanish Science Technology and Innovation Strategy 2013-2020 is the strategic reference framework for research and innovation in Spain. It contains the vision and general objectives of science, technology and innovation policies.  The main objectives of the strategy are to recognise and promote R&D+i talent and employability, support business leadership in R&D+i and to foster R&D+i activities targeting society's overarching challenges. 'Smart, sustainable and integrated transport' was identified as one of eight great challenges for the country to overcome in this field.

The main instrument for implementing this strategy is the State Plan of Scientific and Technical Research and Innovation 2017-2020. It details the methods by which the Government, in collaboration with research institutes, technology centres, businesses and higher education, will achieve the goals of the strategy.

The framework for transport planning and research is initially provided by the Strategic Plan for Infrastructure and Transport for 2005–2020. Further, in line with ongoing European developments, sustainability is becoming increasingly important in transport policy in Spain. The second National Energy Efficiency Action Plan 2014–2020 focuses on several sectors, including transport and specifies measures and targets for each sector.

Institutional framework of transport research

The Ministry of Science, Innovation and Universities is the main organisation responsible for the proposal and execution of government policy on research and development (R&D). It manages international relations in this sector and the Spanish representation in programmes in the EU. The Ministry is supported in coordination, assessment and evaluation of the R&D+i system by the following committees and instruments:

  • The Council of Scientific and Technological Policy and Innovation is the general coordination and administrative body for scientific and technical research
  • The Advisory Council for Science, Technology and Innovation make recommendations and contribute to state plans to ensure the strategy is achieved
  • The Information System on Science, Technology and Innovation is the instrument for data capture and analysis for the drafting and monitoring of the Spanish strategy on Science, Technology and Innovation.

The main instruments of financing Spanish research and development activities are:

  • Public core funding
  • Financing via tax reductions
  • Research Grants
  • Private funding

The STI Act defines two national funding organisations, both attached to the Ministry of Science, Innovation and Universities.

  1. The National Research Agency (AEI) is an instrument to manage public funding for R&D activities. The goal is to guarantee accountability, improve and extend the monitoring of actions, streamlining the management of available funds, reducing administrative burdens and standardising procedures.
  2. The Centre for Industrial Technological Development (CDTI) is a body that channels the funding and support applications for national and international R&D+i projects of Spanish companies.

The Ministry of Public Works and Transport is responsible for preparing and implementing government policy on transport. Transport research is financed by the Ministry of Science, Innovation and Universities. The Ministry of Development contributes to transport research by identifying priority topics and areas with the greatest socioeconomic benefit. Additional transport research funding is provided through European and international opportunities.

Funding Sources and Support Initiatives

There are two main funding programmes in Spain:

  • INNPRONTA - A programme for financing large integrated industrial research projects of a large-scale and strategic nature which serve to develop new technologies in forward-looking technological areas
  • INNODEMANDA - A financing instrument which supports technology bids in the public purchase of innovation processes