23 April 2009
IMDEA, with a budget of €20 million this year and 100 researchers throughout the world, aims to make Madrid a leading science, technology and research centre.
The Region of Madrid sees research and innovation as priority areas, especially in times of crisis. The Regional Government, under its president, Esperanza Aguirre, has earmarked investment of €83.2 million in 2009 for research, an increase of 25% on the previous year’s figure.
These funds are to be used mainly to train human capital, support research projects and groups, launch the new Regional Science and Technology Research Plan and promote the Madrid Institute of Advanced Studies (IMDEA). Furthermore, the Region of Madrid has this year approved a €46 million aid package to fund high-quality science and technology research programmes.
The objective of IMDEA project is to make Madrid a centre for science, technology and research, position it among knowledge-generating regions and attract the best Spanish and international researchers and scientists with an investment this year of over €20 million. The objectives of the eight Madrid Institutes of Advanced Studies (IMDEA) are to encourage RDI activities, develop in-house, internationally competitive, state-of-the-art science and technology, build international research teams, capture and train human capital of excellence, promote interdisciplinary collaboration and create a dynamic, agile, liberal, non-interventionist environment which contributes to the well-being of Madrid and Spain.
Lucía Figar, Minister of Education in the Regional Government of Madrid
First of all, what is IMDEA?
IMDEA, the Madrid Institute of Advanced Studies, is the Region of Madrid’s most ambitious attempt to bring excellence to research in our region. Its main aim is to attract the best scientists in order to put Madrid and its companies firmly at the forefront of innovation. In this way, our Region will continue to be a beacon of economic growth in Spain and in Europe, to the benefit of the people of Madrid. They work in strategic areas for our region: water, food, social sciences, energy, materials, nanoscience, networks and software and, in the future, biomedicine.
Why where the IMDEAs created?
In Madrid, we have cutting-edge universities and research centres with top-class professionals. But there are many prestigious scientists who would never come to Madrid because of the rigidity of the system. Therefore, we decided that the best way to attract talent would be through independent, newly created centres, as is the system in the countries that have traditionally led research. Selection and hiring of the scientists is done by the scientific commissions and the rules are very simple: the researchers have full scientific and creative freedom, while the Regional Government monitors the budget to ensure that the Madrid taxpayers’ money is well-spent.
“IMDEA is the Region of Madrid’s most ambitious attempt to bring excellence to research in our region”
You have mentioned the business community. What is the role of the companies?
The IMDEAs are not islands; they have strong links with universities and companies such as Telefonica, Airbus, Danone, BBVA, Abengoa, Repsol…. We have brought all of them on board the governing bodies and they interact with the researchers, helping to define areas of work. This collaboration allows them to exploit the synergies that our firms need in order to compete in Europe, America and Asia.
Is this the reason why you have chosen these areas of work?
The areas chosen, -water, food, social sciences, energy, materials, nanoscience, networks and software and biomedicine-, are fundamental for the development and growth of our economy. The Region of Madrid is aware that enormous effort must be put into research if we are to compete and create jobs. This is why we are taking measures such as the 25% increase on last year’s budget, the creation of the IMDEAs and putting out the biggest ever tender for research this year (€46 million). To overcome the crisis, we should be promoting measures such as these and I think that our region is taking the right steps to keep its leading position, both in Spain and internationally.
Are they successful?
We are very happy with how things are going and with the results so far. We have already brought together more than 100 world-leading scientists in Madrid, and this has already made the region a reference point for innovation in Europe and Spain with a model that other regions are starting to copy.
And what about the scientific results?
The scientific results are also excellent. As well as the patents and scientific publications, over €34 million has also been mobilised in contracts and research projects directly linked to companies and institutions. We are working with Brawn (the Formula 1 team), INTEL, Airbus, Abengoa, etc. And we should not forget that we have achieved these results while the Institutes are still in the process of formation, still a long way from being stable, which means that we can be very optimistic about the future.
“We decided that the best way to attract talent was through independent, newly created centres, as in the countries that have traditionally led research”
Arturo Azcorra is full Professor of the Department of Telematics at the University Carlos III and director of IMDEA Networks Institute.
“The Future Wireless Internet will be a strategic technological factor in the world economy”
What are the scientific research objectives of IMDEA Networks?
IMDEA Networks is consolidating a position of international leadership and excellence in research into communications network technologies. The Institute operates as an ideas laboratory devoted to basic research with industrial applications in the field of algorithms and systems for the development of the Future Wireless Internet. We have the world’s leading scientists, such as Nick Maxemchuck and Marco Ajmone Marsan, and we work closely with the public and private sectors. In order to achieve our objective, we meet challenges such as omnipresent Internet access, security and privacy, resilient and scalable network control, content distribution networks and alternative business models.
Can business and the scientific-academic world work with the Institute?
IMDEA Networks actively seeks collaboration with the public and private sectors as a useful way of enriching our efforts and putting knowledge to work on the creation of new, advanced, profitable services, products and companies. The aim is to share human and technical resources in order to generate specialised knowledge and improve competitiveness in an ongoing innovation process.
What are the benefits to the organisations that work with IMDEA Networks?
The benefits are promoting, motivating and improving scientific and technological development in order to meet the problems of the real world, guaranteeing a direct impact on economic growth, job creation and the generation of knowledge, with the consequent improvement in people’s quality of life. IMDEA Networks offers excellent infrastructure, access to world-leading research personnel, the support of the Regional Government of Madrid and the collaboration of universities, research and technology centres, companies and scientists from all over the world. We work to promote international collaboration to the benefit of the development of a technological factor that will be strategic in the world economy: the Future Wireless Internet.