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Pedro Duque: “The FPdGi demonstrates that in this country there has been a changing trend in interest in knowledge”

The minister of Science participates in the ‘Talent rescuers’ meeting and the 2018 FPdGi Awards ceremony

29/06/2018

Making science and knowledge the future of many young people in this country: this is, according to Pedro Duque, one of his long-term objectives at the helm of the Ministry of Science. Duque “does not understand” the reason why historically Spain has not invested the international average of public spending in science and innovation. “It’s not that wealthier countries invest more in science, rather, those who invested the most in science in the past are now the wealthiest”, he said.

The minister of Science, Innovation and Universities, Pedro Duque, held up the Princess of Girona Foundation as an example of “a changing trend in interest in knowledge in society”. A turnaround that is taking place now and which he wants to push forward from the public administration.

Duque admits that the world of science is changing very rapidly and he gave the example of the profession of the opening speaker Amber Case, who considers herself a cyber-anthropologist. “We must adapt university courses, but also the mentality of families because parents are reluctant for their children to study new degrees”, he added.

Microelectronics and hand-held information are areas that demand improved training now “from schools” in order to be able to distinguish what is useful and truthful. “In the past, there were only books but they were reliable; nowadays, half the information on the internet is uploaded in response to someone’s own particular interests”, he warned.

According to Duque, the concept of science in Spain has evolved in a very positive way, as professions linked to science are among the most highly valued. “Young people have imbued themselves with science and are taking science degrees, although we are still not seeing enough women in this field”, commented the minister.

One of the challenges the Ministry has set for itself is to promote patronage. In addition to initiatives such as the FPdGi, the aim is to introduce some changes that facilitate personal contributions to funding scientific and technological projects.

One of the usual requests made by groups linked to science and knowledge is an increase in public spending on these areas. Duque admits that Spain, in comparison with its neighbouring countries, invests half of the usual amount. Although the legislative changes have been important, he believes that we need to make “another leap” because the more you invest, the more wealth is generated and the results of the investment are increasingly seen in the medium term.

The priority now for the Ministry is to bring Spain closer to other countries in matters such as tax collection, the availability of highly qualified jobs and unemployment figures. In science, stopping the brain drain is another goal that Duque aims to achieve by “growing the system to make room for more scientists”. “Scientists are smart people, so they are not going to return if there are no resources here to create laboratories and that will only happen when resources are increased”, he explained.

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