The Conference of Social Councils of Spanish Universities (CCS) has been one of the institutions that has actively participated in the project promoted by the OECD “Roadmap to improve cooperation between universities, research and business in Spain”.
The European Commission and the Ministries of Science and Innovation and Universities have also collaborated within the framework of the European Program to Support Structural Reforms. Specifically, the objective is to improve collaboration between universities, public research organizations and companies in Spain through the analysis of the current situation and the design of action proposals based on good national and international practices.
During the presentation of the work, the president of the CCS, Antonio Abril Abadín, highlighted that, “a year and a half after the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic and with the health crisis as evidence still latent among us, no one disputes the importance and the prominence that science, technology and innovation have in our social well-being, much less companies “. In this area, it detects two fundamental problems:
- The Spanish productive fabric is immensely made up of micro-enterprises focused on traditional sectors and very little intensive in the knowledge society and therefore in science, technology and innovation.
- For many years there has been an excessive distance between public research and the company, which has given rise to a low culture of cooperation and the low maturity of institutions and instruments in the collaboration ecosystem.
Proof of this is that, according to data from the survey on innovation in companies carried out by the INE for the period 2017-2019, “only 20.8% of Spanish companies were innovative and according to the Cotec report on innovation 2021, of the total of approximately 3,200,000 companies in Spain, only 11,096 carry out R&D activities in Spain and of these only 1,090 are medium or large.
But it is really relevant that when you ask these innovative companies with whom they carry out cooperation in innovation, the result is that private firms outside their group are their most valuable partners, 64.26%, followed by private companies in the same group 16.48%, and they only say they cooperate with universities and other research centers. higher education 9.78% “.
Along these lines, he insists that “the transfer of results from the public sector-company continues to be a great pending issue for society and the Spanish economy and there are several ways to improve it, mainly:
- Strengthen the cooperation and transfer ecosystem: Technology centers, business incubators, REDFUE, OTRIS …
- Improve the governance of the public research system, and especially that of the universities, so that it listens and learns the language and the needs of companies and gives them participation, as science and business in Spain have repeatedly requested
The president of the CCS also refers to incentives linked to results in universities.
- It is evident that, at the institutional level, there must be a structural component in the financing of universities, which guarantees the functioning of the system, and competitive financing that prioritizes quality and obtaining results. In Galicia, for example, important steps have been taken in that direction in the current financing system and in the one that has just been approved for the period 2022-2027.
- At the level of internal functioning of the universities, the subject of reference is a specific aspect of a more serious and general problem: introducing deregulation and operational autonomy in universities and the ability to manage the immense talent that their people treasure, always with the consequent Transparency and accountability.
In other words, meritocratic and competitive management of talent, more means, material and human resources, for which it has more merits and achieves more results, as is already the case in the field of public research, in institutions such as ICREA, IKERBASQUE, or in the SOMMA Alliance of María de Maeztu and Severo Ochoa Centers of Excellence, but not in the universities. And it will not exist until the current university governance system is changed,
- And it must be added that, unfortunately for our universities and for our Science and Research, and consequently for our economic development and social welfare, the current LOSU draft does not go along the line of improving the situation.
For the CCS – which brings together the Social Councils of public universities and the councils and boards of private universities – facilitate public-private cooperation and the third university mission – the transfer of the results of knowledge and research to the society of knowledge- constitute two of its strategic priorities and both should be promoted by the new legislative framework that the Government is preparing together with the structural reform of the university governance model, the increase in public and private financing of the universities, the improvement of the internationalization of the institution and promote the employability of students.