Literature review Context of University-Business Engagement in Madrid

In the European Innovation Scoreboard, Spain maintains a very discreet position, however, since 1986 when the first Law of Science and Technology (Ley 13/1986) was established, 17 different administrative regions with autonomy to develop their own innovation strategy are acknowledged.

Considering the above, the observation at regional level in different Regional Innovation System (RIS) rankings, evidences that Madrid, Catalonia, Pais Vasco and Navarra score top positions within Spain regardless of being classified as moderate at European level. The exact position depends very much on the weight of the variables taken into account for the elaboration of the index. A very broad notion of their differences are that Pais Vasco and Navarra strengths stand on the business side, while Catalonia and Madrid build upon the Administration.

Focusing on Madrid, the historic evolution of its RIS dates back to 1990 when Madrid developed the first regional plan for research. In 1998, the regional law of Science and Technology (Ley de Fomento de la Investigación Científica y la Innovación Tecnológica, 5/1998) was enacted and since then ((III PRICIT-Plan Regional de Investigación Científica e Innovación Tecnológica), the scope of the plans became the development and integration of the regional innovation system.

Nowadays the V PRICIT frames the Madrid RIS which also considers the RIS3 with following specialization areas: i) Nanotechnology, Advanced Materials, Industrial and Space Technologies; ii) Health, Biotechnology, Water and Food, iii) Energy, Environment and Transport (including Aeronautics), and Information and Communication Technologies. The following chart illustrates the fundamentals of the PRICIT and the Madrid RIS stakeholders:


Figure 1 Fundamentals of the V PRICIT of Madrid:

(Source: V PRICIT of Madrid brochure)
(Source: Adaptation of Comunidad de Madrid presentation in IASP Annual Conference, 2020)



Madrid RIS shows a very complex structure, however, beyond complexity and for the last decade, Madrid RIS suffers from an unbalanced system with growing weakness relative to companies and universities which might compromise the global innovation performance and leadership at country level (Buesa et al., 2019).

Currently, the region displays a powerful scientific strength: almost 25% of the Spanish researches and R&D personnel (EJD), around 26% of the Spanish R&D expenditure that raises to 31% considering innovation expenditure. Nevertheless, these weights drop under 20% when pondering the number of innovative companies or of business with R&D expenditures. Thus, there is still space for improvement and a lot of potential to flourish from the improvement of knowledge transfer activities between universities and industry.

However, the mission of a successful collaboration between universities and industry requires addressing and understanding several elements, some of them have an effect at the individual level but others at the institutional level to consider in both sides, universities and industry (Galán-Muros et al, 2018; 1 &2; Domingo&Herrero-Villa, 2019):

On the one hand, the motivation of the actors´ incentivises the collaboration although industry, researchers, and university or research centres managers differ on the reasons for cooperate. For industry, access to talent, research resources and new knowledge for their competitiveness are great drives for collaboration. For universities, the management team focuses on the access to funds, the development of the third mission for university branding proposes and the impact on students. For researchers, the leads are new industrial challenges, complementary equipment, professional careers alternatives for the novel researchers` team or the personal motivation of the utility of their research as it can contribute to industry or society.

On the other hand, there are several elements that drag the impulse. For researchers, resources constraints (including administrative and economic paperwork), legal barriers, the lack of alignment with their professional careers plus the cultural distance and understanding difficulty with the industry disincentive the alternative. For industry, especially SMEs, the lack of awareness, cultural and organizational aspects as well as legal and intellectual property matters, are obstacles that complicate the relationship.

Hence, the challenge is to build upon strengths and erase the obstacles. To address this purpose some initiatives that need to be forward in parallel such as: increase the understanding of the different parties among the stakeholders, acquire more suitable competences for the UBC and for the current innovation paradigm, reinforce supporting mechanism and enlarge the resources of the RIS. As any system, Madrid RIS will have the strength of the weakest link.


Author: María José Herrero Vila


Header photo by Jorge Salvador on Unsplash




Buesa Blanco, M. y Heijs, J. y Baumert, T. y Gutiérrez Rojas, C., 2018. Medición sintética de tres lustros de innovación regional en España, 2000-2015. Cuadernos de Información económica, 262. pp. 59-76. ISSN 1132-9386

Comunidad de Madrid: Madrid,  Ciencia y Tecnología

Domingo, P; Herrero-Villa, MJ (2019) Hacia una nueva figura: el investigador emprendedor. Universidad 2020 Investigación y transferencia de conocimiento. Nueva Revista de Política, cultura y Arte, 171 ; 22-47.

Galan-Muros, Victoria & Davey, Todd & D’Este, Pablo & Meerman, Arno & Orazbayeva, Balzhan & Troutt, Maria & Melonari, Mihai. (2018). The State of Spanish University-Business Cooperation Report (Business Perspective). 10.13140/RG.2.2.14807.11680.

Galan-Muros, Victoria & Davey, Todd & D’Este, Pablo & Meerman, Arno & Orazbayeva, Balzhan & Troutt, Maria & Melonari, Mihai. (2018). The State of Spanish University-Business Cooperation Report (University Perspective). 10.13140/RG.2.2.17743.12966..


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