The urgent demands to halt the deterioration of the Spanish science system proposed by the Charter for Science group is gaining support and weight. One hundred directors of various centers and institutes working for the National Research Council (CSIC), signed a letter on Monday containing proposals to demand the return of lost public investment in R & D. The letter also requested to remove barriers of recruiting in an effort to hault the emptying of research centers and to stop the great minds of Spain leaving the country.
"We are experiencing a return to the past, which is ridiculous," complains John Lerma, director of the Neuroscience Institute of Alicante (CSIC-Universidad de Alicante). "Since 2009 Public Investment has been reduced by 2 million euros in R & D, we are losing competitiveness and we must stop this or the system collapses. While here we have lost more than 40% of public funding, Germany, since 2000, has increased its investment in R & D by 70% and slash and 3% of GDP" he argues.
Directors working under the CSIC were forced to freeze certain scientific projects due to lack of funding, which in turn, forced many young scientific experts to leave the country. "People are worried, and in high school are getting offers from abroad to be researchers" laments Lerma. Consolidated research groups are losing much of what they had achieved, and for the next generation of scientific researchers the situation is hopeless." explained Castresana.
The delays and defaults in payment deadlines are directly affecting the recruitment of experts for research projects. IFT Severo Ochoa's experience is testament to this fact. Last October, they won a grant to fund a research project, but this funding only materialized a year later, in June. Muñoz recounts: "In science you can destroy in a few years what took you so long to create."
In this letter for Spanish Science the collective of scientific members in Spain explain the 4 main urgent points that should be fixed before the situation gets to a point of no return.
- Recover existing levels of public funding in 2009 over the next three financial years, so that we get closer to the European average of 0.6% of GDP investment in R & D.
- Elimination of the current limits of the replacement rate of public employment in the field of R & D, so that they can join the new human resources system.
- Provision of sufficient resources for the State Research Plan 2013-2016 so that it can launch and regulate all proceedings under the same annual meeting the deadlines of calls and resolving them.
- Creating State Research Agency as an autonomous and independent institution, entrusted with the task of the State Plan Management Research through the contract program and the corresponding multi-year budgets.
The strategy adopted by those working within the scientific sector is known within the industry as 'banding'. It is where everyone involved comes together to try to achieve the same goals, and as we can see, it gets results.
What do you think the future of Spanish Science will be? Do you think countries in a deep economic crisis should fund science projects in order to create employment opportunities?