Article

Science-business links in Portugal and Spain: untapped potential for innovation?

Manuel M. Godinho, ISEG - Lisbon School of Economics and Management, University of Lisbon; José Guimón, Faculty of Economics and Business Studies, Autonomous University of Madrid (UAM); Catalina Martínez, Institute of Public Goods and Policies, Spanish National Research Council (IPP-CSIC); Joana Mendonça, IN+ Centre for Innovation, Technology and Policy Research, IST, University of Lisbon;

Portugal and Spain lag behind advanced European economies in key indicators of science-business links, such as patenting by universities and public research institutions, public-private co-publications, private funding of higher education research and development (R&D), and the mobility of doctoral graduates to industry. Despite similar trajectories, both countries have addressed the challenge of intensifying science-business links through different policies, offering opportunities for mutual learning and sharing good practices.
Key points
  • 1
       Patenting by universities and public research institutes has increased in Portugal and Spain, but an important lag with the EU average persists.
  • 2
       Co-publication of scientific papers by academic and business researchers has also been on the rise but remains well below that of EU leaders.
  • 3
       Only 6% of PhD holders in Portugal and Spain work in the business sector.
  • 4
       The percentage of university R&D financed by the business sector is substantially higher in Spain (5.5%) than in Portugal (2%), though both remain below the EU average.
  • 5
       Portugal and Spain have recently enriched their policy mix by launching new programmes aimed at building science-industry consortia and joint laboratories.
  • 6
       In the coming years, a closer alignment between science and business will be critical for economic recovery in both countries.

Academic research, broadly defined as that conducted by universities and public research institutions, can have a strong impact on innovation by offering new strands of knowledge that can be used by firms to develop new products, services, and processes. However, this impact will be limited in the absence of efficient links that facilitate knowledge exchange and collaboration between science and business.

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