The objective of the research, technological development and innovation (RTDI) system in Asturias is to place the region as a reference for science, technology and innovation in Spain. The RTDI system is supported by excellent human capital, advanced infrastructures, a competitive business network and the coordination of the different lines of action and agents as a primary operational principle. According to this objective, the plan is configured around four programmes:
- Production and application of knowledge in order to boost the basic research of excellence;
- Co-operation platforms for innovation, in order to improve the scientific and technological development level of Asturias;
In the high tech sector in 2019, there were 14,400 workers (Eurostat, 2020), which represent almost 2% of the national high-tech sector employment and 3.7% of total employment. The EU average is 4.2%.
The population aged 30-34 with tertiary education has been fluctuating over the years, being at 53.1% in 2019 (Eurostat, 2020), a value above the national average of 44.7% and the EU average of 41.6%. Taking broadband diffusion into account, the households with internet access were 91% in Asturias, the same as the national average. Finally, regarding patents, in 2019 the region presented 27 applications to the EPO which is equivalent to a share of 1.4% with respect to Spain (EPO, 2020).
- Company and competitiveness, in order to help to change the production structure of Asturias; and
- Company incubator to improve the productive diversification of Asturias.
In spite of the existence of these programmes, the expenditures in research & development (R&D) still have plenty to improve. According to Eurostat (2020), in 2017 Asturias invested €183m in R&D, which was 0.81% of its GDP, while the Spanish average was 1.21% and the EU’s 2.08%. Companies and non-profit private institutions contributed the most, followed by higher education and finally, the public administration. Once more, figures were rather low in comparison with the national expenditure in R&D and they have continued to decrease slowly over the past years.
R&D expenditure by sector in 2018 was made up of (INE, 2020):
- Company and non-profit private institutions (PNPI): €113.4m (1.3% of the total Spanish expenditure by this sector);
- Public administration: €23.8m (1.0% of the total Spanish expenditure by this sector); and
- Higher education: €51.2m (1.3% of the total Spanish expenditure by this sector).
When it comes to employees, there were 3,331 people (in full time equivalence) working in R&D in Asturias in 2018, distributed in companies, universities and public administration (INE, 2020).