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Science and technology get a Ministry

The reelected Prime Minister of Spain, José Maria Azna announced the creation of a new Ministry of Science and Technology in response to the necessity of research, innovation and the “technological revolution”, Nature informs. The new ministry will be responsible for the policy of basic and applied research, information technology and telecommunications. It will also included those research activities which are spread throughout other ministries as well as incorporating the Superior Council of Scientific Research of the country.

The policy of the ministry in relation to basic and applied research will follow “action lines” strategically defined in the National Research Plan 2000-04. The government intends to use this plan to identify the research areas in which Spain can be more competitive. The new Minister will be Ana Birulés, an economist and, since 1997, General Director of the gigantic telecommunications company Retevisión. Before that, she was Vice President of the Department of Industry of the regional government of Catalonia.

The Ministry of Education and Culture, which was responsible, up until that point, for science and higher education, will be led by Pilar del Castillo, President of the Center of Sociological Investigation, of the government since 1996. The government believes that the social and economical situation of Spain makes this the moment to try to increase  the support of research to the level of more developed countries. To attain this objective, there will be a need for strict collaboration with the private sector – one of the first duties of the ministry will be to create a biomedical research fund in conjunction with the pharmaceutical industry.