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Unspent billions spark Spanish R&D review

Spain’s newly appointed economy minister Román Escolano has pledged to review government loans for research, after official figures showed that 50 per cent of cash earmarked for R&D in 2017 was not spent.

On 26 March, a government spending watchdog reported that in 2017 only €1.4 billion of €4.6bn set aside mainly for R&D loans and grants from central government, was spent. This was the lowest spending rate for this type of research funding since 2010. Spain’s total 2017 R&D budget—including regional spending—was €6.5bn.

A spokesman for the economy ministry stressed that almost all of the funding for grants in the €4.6bn allocation was spent. Businesses and technology centres failed to apply in sufficient numbers for more than €3bn in R&D loans, he said, triggering the underspend. This may be because conditions for these loans were tightened during the global financial crisis.

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