Article

Evolution of science and technology in Portugal and Spain

Luis Sanz Menéndez, CSIC Institute of Public Goods and Policies, Madrid, Spain
Tiago Santos Pereira, Centre for Social Studies (CES) of the University of Coimbra, Portugal

Research and innovation in Portugal and Spain have developed along parallel paths, albeit with some distinctive features. After emerging from dictatorships, the two countries joined the European Economic Community at the same time. After developing a trajectory of economic and research convergence with the rest of Europe, both countries faced setbacks from the 2008 financial crisis. Despite having improved throughout the past decades, investments in research and development (R&D) remain far below those of leading countries and the European Union targets of 3% of gross domestic product in total investment in R&D and 2% of gross domestic product in business investment in R&D. The technological composition of the economic structure in both countries is one limitation to greater investment, as is the limited employment of researchers in the private sector. In addition to private sector investments, greater attention can be given to the scientific, technological, and societal impact of research and innovation in both countries.
Key points
  • 1
       Portugal and Spain have been brought together through their membership in the European Economic Community in a process of economic and scientific convergence.
  • 2
       Following a period of sustained growth in R&D intensity in Portugal and Spain, R&D investment stalled following the Great Recession and has only recently resumed.
  • 3
       In 2019, Portugal and Spain spent 1.40% and 1.25% of gross domestic product on R&D, respectively, which is still far below the European Union’s 3% target.
  • 4
       R&D performed by the business sector is far behind the target of 2% of gross domestic product, standing at 0.73% in Portugal and 0.70% in Spain.
  • 5
       Research employment, scientific and technological impact, and societal impact have improved in both countries.

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