Spain is still a bad country for research. According to the most recent data compiled by the Foundation for Applied Economics Studies (Fedea), investment in R & D is at 2004 levels. In 2017, the last year for which complete statistics are available, the total expenditure was 14,052 million , equivalent to 1.2% of GDP, the same level as fifteen years ago. A figure far from 2.93% in Germany or 2.25% in France, according to a report by Fedea that compares the R & D of different European countries. In fact, Spain is, together with Finland, Portugal, Latvia and Romania, the only country in the European Union whose investment in this field has not recovered the levels prior to the crisis.
Our country suffers, according to Fedea, from an important structural deficit because almost half of the R & D expenditure is executed by the public research system. Against 45% of Spain, in the rest of the advanced countries it barely reaches 25%. Only 10,175 companies declared carrying out research activities in the analyzed period, of which 1,018 had more than 250 workers and 2,680 employed between 50 and 249 people. Spanish companies, says Fedea, prefer to acquire innovation than not to seek it, which causes a serious problem due to the peculiar national business structure, composed approximately 90% by SMEs. "Most of the big companies do not base their competitive advantage on technology, so their technological strategy consists of acquiring the best technological solutions in the market, avoiding the risk inevitably associated with R & D activity. This strategy is more difficult to adopt by medium-sized Spanish technology-based companies, a very little-known group, which should be the objective of public innovation policies, "explains Fedea.
The levels of investment place Spanish R & D at the tail of the different rankings that are elaborated at international level that the foundation has compiled. According to the European Innovation Scoreboard of the European Commission, Spain is a "moderate" country in innovation because it has a global index between 50% and 89% of the European average. The Global Innovation Index of the World Intellectual Property Organization gives Spain a score of 48.68 points, compared to Germany, 58.03 points, or France, 54.36 points. The report calls "scarce" Spanish efforts in this sector. For its part, the Global Competitiveness Report of the World Economic Forum assigns Spain 74.2 points, compared to 82.2 in Germany or 78 in France.