Tuesday, August 16

Innovation and transformation: the economic challenge of post-pandemic Spain

  • An act of the Iberian Press debates in which projects the national recovery plan will be executed with the 140,000 million euros of European funds

The recovery plan from Spanish economy has already been launched. Until 2026, the Government, as it complies with committed reforms, will have 140,000 million euros from European funds, around half non-refundable and the rest in the form of credits, to deploy them and promote business reactivation after the bump suffered by the impact of the pandemic of the coronavirus. But, in what measures will this plan be implemented? What role should the public administration and the private sector play in it? How to use this injection of money to transform the country?

All these questions, transcendental for the development of the Spain that comes, have been addressed in ‘Mobility, talent and execution’, a conference of presentations and debates organized by ‘Futuribles‘, the technological innovation project promoted by Iberian Press, editor of EL PERIÓDICO DE CATALUNYA. After making its first two stops in Asturias and Galicia, the forum landed this Thursday in Catalonia – more specifically at the Hyatt Regency Barcelona Tower Hotel in l’Hospitalet de Llobregat – to try to reveal the next steps in the deployment of this recovery plan.

For this, it has had the participation of Rachel Sanchez, Minister of Transport, Mobility and Urban Agenda; Maria del Pilar Alegria, Minister of Education and Vocational Training or Jordi Puigneró, ‘vice president’ of the Generalitat de Catalunya, as well as leading businessmen in different sectors.

Innovation, a vital necessity

“The big countries are so because of their investment in research, development and innovation”, Has remarked Francisco Marin, director of the ‘Futuribles’ project and National Prize for Innovative Career 2020 by the Ministry of Science and Innovation. “If we are able to make Spain change course, it will already be something very big.” And, despite being the twelfth world economy according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Spain occupies the 30th position in the UN’s global innovation index. Last year it allocated 1.4% of its gross domestic product (GDP) to I+D, while many other European countries exceed 2% of investment and in Asia it soars above 4%.

Accelerating innovation has been a transversal claim during this day. Among the strategic projects approved by the Spanish Executive are the development of procedures for a cutting edge health that improves the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of diseases or electric car boost. “To guarantee the right to mobility and public transport is as important to invest in works as in technology ”, assured the head of Transport. Thus, 13,000 million of Community funds will be allocated to data management for safe, fair, sustainable and connected mobility, axes of future development outlined in the 2030 Agenda.

Accelerate public investment

Of the 140,000 million euros that Spain will have in the next five years, up to 69,500 million will be lost. “It is a unique opportunity,” said Minister Alegría. “That is more than what Spain has received in 20 years from European cohesion funds.”

Public administrations will allocate a large part of this amount to launching cutting-edge innovation projects. In L’Hospitalet they have activated a battery of projects against the climate change and a program to reduce the digital divide and integrate the elderly. “This battle begins in the cities,” explained its mayor. Núria Marín during his welcome speech to the event. Along the same lines, the Generalitat is working on the deployment of the 5G network to all the municipalities of Catalonia, Transports Metropolitans de Barcelona (TMB) will launch a bus that runs on green hydrogen and the Àrea Metropolitana de Barcelona (WITH) is building new cycle paths and preparing the ground for the digitization urbana.

One of the challenges for administrations, which in all cases see European ‘Next Generation’ funds as a great opportunity that cannot be missed, is to introduce more “effective and efficient” public procurement, according to Antoni Poveda, Vice President of Mobility of the Metropolitan Area of ​​Barcelona (AMB. In a similar vein, Ricard Font, Secretary General of the Vice-presidency of the Generalitat, has spoken: “It is a public procurement that does not take innovation very much into account and with long deadlines. They should be reduced by 50 % “. In all cases they coincide in the strength provided by co-governance, as is the case with mobility and transport in the metropolitan area of ​​Barcelona.

The private sector calls for improvements

Different branches of the private sector They have taken advantage of the act to demand more favorable policies for companies and to promote the economy such as greater cooperation between the different actors in the Spanish productive sector or the implementation of tax incentives that promote the commitment to innovation. “We have a clear plan and structure, but we started to see a bit of vagueness in the execution of those funds ”, has pointed out Joaquim Guilera, executive director of Coolmag Thermo Conductive, a technological SME.

For his part, José Manuel Casas Aljama, general director of Telefónica in Catalonia, he has called for a “greater involvement” of the authorities to accelerate the digitization of the territory and has criticized the rate that in Catalonia falls on the telecommunications lines that make these reach rural or more depopulated areas. For his part, Jordi Nicolau, director of ‘Retail’ at CaixaBank, highlighted the efforts of banks to make digitization, one of the pillars of the country’s transformation, compatible with more personalized attention and taking advantage of technological advances so that more unpopulated areas do not be left without banking services.

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The general director of Covestro chemistry in Spain, Andrea Firenze, stressed that there are “great challenges ahead to stimulate competitiveness, such as energy costs or the Mediterranean Corridor, but we remain an attractive country as shown by recent Covestro’s investments in Spain worth 200 million. ”In his opinion,” European funds are “a great opportunity to strengthen competitiveness, accelerate technological transformation and boost the economy.”

The technology sector it is key in the Spanish economic future. Despite the pandemic, investments have been reactivated and occupation in the entrepreneurial ecosystem it is growing 10% annually in the last five years, according to the Labor Force Survey (EPA). Aware of its impact on the national productive fabric, Puigneró closed the event with a reflection that synthesizes the great transformative challenge that the country will tackle with European funds under its arm: “We are not facing an era of change, but of a change in was”. And, in the claims chapter, he has insisted on the request of the Generalitat that the Cercanías be completely transferred. “It is best managed from proximity, at least that which has its origin and end in Catalonia”.


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