The Severo Ochoa and María de Maeztu excellence programmes identify and promote excellence in scientific research. Their aim is to boost Spanish science by recognising existing cutting-edge research centres and providing them with economical support to boost their impact, international scientific leadership and competitiveness.
The event, held at the Ministry of Science, was co-chaired by Minister Pedro Duque, and Luis Serrano, president of the Severo Ochoa - Maria de Maeztu (SOMMa) alliance. Enrique Playán, director of the State Research Agency (AEI), and Maria Blasco, vice-president of the SOMMa alliance, also participated in the meeting.
Minister Pedro Duque assured "the Government's firm support for the Severo Ochoa y María de Maeztu excellence programme" and underlined the importance of having more autonomous communities capable of hosting centres of these characteristics, "which benefit their science and innovation systems". The minister has also clarified that "the excellence requirement will continue to be as rigorous as today, so the goal is to have more centers capable of raising their levels of excellence, for which they must have the support of the various administrations."
According to Luis Serrano, "this meeting is symptomatic of a constructive and positive attitude towards research in Spain. The interest of the government and the support of the autonomous communities to research is fundamental for Spain to aspire to be a country in which the knowledge-driven economy governs. The Severo Ochoa - María de Maeztu programme is a powerful tool that the autonomous communities can use to strengthen their research centres".
Six research centres and units presented their paths they followed to achieve the award and the impact that the certificate has enabled: the Institute of Interdisciplinary Physics and Complex Systems (IFISC; Balearic Islands), the Galician Institute of High Energy Physics (IGFAE, Galicia), the Department of Gene Regulation and Morphogenesis (GEM/DCM2, Andalusia), the Institute of Neurosciences of Alicante (IN; Valencian Community), the Basque Center for Applied Mathematics (BCAM, Basque Country) and the Instituto Astrofísico de Canarias (IAC, Canary Islands), demonstrating the presence of excellent research in a large part of the Spanish geography.
Along with these institutes, the Severo Ochoa - María de Maeztu centres and units of Cantabria, Madrid and Catalonia also attended and participated in the dialogue with the representatives of the CCAAs. A round of questions was opened at the end of the event, allowing the communities to know how they can benefit from the programme. Xavier Obradors, ICMAB Director, was at the meeting representing the ICMAB and its Severo Ochoa certificate of excellence (2016-2019).
In the morning of the same day, the awards ceremony for the research centers and units that were awarded with the Severo Ochoa or María de Maeztu certificate of excellence was held. 12 centers and units were awarded this last call: 4 institutions renewed the certificate and 8 achieved it for the first time. Congratulations to all the awardees!