SPAIN: Universities relocated to new innovation ministry
Cristina Garmendia, a relatively unknown scientist and entrepreneur born in Spain's Basque country, will head the new ministry. A biologist by training, Garmendia taught genetics in Madrid before founding the Genetrix group in 2001. Genetrix specialises in seeking practical applications for advances in biotechnology and stem cell research. Described by colleagues as creative, ambitious and enterprising, the government hopes Garmendia will help bring about a closer synergy between Spanish universities and research centres and the private sector.
Although some Spanish scientists have been making a name for themselves in recent years, the impact on society in terms of practical applications still lags behind. Many analysts point to the lack of involvement of the private sector in research as one of the main barriers to progress. Currently the vast majority of research in Spain is still carried out in the public sector and universities account for 60% of this.
Last week, during her first public appearance since her appointment, Garmendia pledged that her ministry would become "one of the motors of the [Spanish] economy". Her first move was to appoint Marius Rubiralta, rector of the University of Barcelona, as Secretary of State for universities.