Focus on Spain

Facts and figures, life scientists in Spain, EMBO opportunities

Spain has been an EMBC Member State since 1970.

Facts and figures

Spain has more than 1.6 million students enrolled across 84 universities, of which 50 are under public law1. With nearly half of its population aged 25-34 having completed tertiary education, Spain has one of the highest tertiary education attainment in the EU. However, the employment rate for recent tertiary graduates in Spain is below the EU average2.

In 2020, Spain’s public and private spending on research was 1.41% of GDP, below the roughly 2.3% average of European Union countries3. More than half of R&D expenditure was financed by the business sector, and the government contributed about 38% of total expenditure. In 2020, more than 230,000 people were engaged in R&D activities, including about 145,000 researchers4.

Spain ranks among the 30 most innovative world’s economies5. In 2021, the European Patent Office granted nearly 2,000 patents to first patentees residing in Spain6. According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Spain outperforms other OECD countries in work-life balance, health, social connections and safety7.

Researchers in Spain have secured more than 6 billion euros through EU’s Horizon 2020 research funding scheme, with more than 3,700 Spanish entities obtaining financing through the programme8. Spanish researchers have also been successful in securing funding from European Research Council grants, Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions programmes9 and EMBO Fellowships10.

In August 2022, Spain’s parliament passed a bill to reform a law on science, technology and innovation, with the aim of doubling public investment in research and improving job security for those working in the sector. The reform also seeks to address gender inequalities in R&D by requiring public research institutions to have and evaluate an annual gender equality plan11.

In October 2022, the Spanish government announced a 2023 R&D budget of almost 4 billion euros — an increase of about 20% compared to 2022. The government also announced a funding call that will distribute 40 million euros to attract scientific talents12.

Population: 47.4 million13
R&D spending: 1.41% of GDP4
Researchers: 145,372 full-time equivalents4
Foreign researchers: 2,49114
Patents: 1,9546
Number of universities: 84 (50 under public law)1
Horizon 2020 funding9:
52,673 organizations involved in EU R&I programs
870 ERC Principal Investigators
4,523 Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions funded researchers

All life scientists in Spain are eligible for the EMBO Programmes supporting life scientists in Europe and beyond.

Find out about all EMBO funding schemes here.

All information as of November 2022.


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