The ‘Severo Ochoa’ Centres and ‘María de Maeztu’ Units of Excellence Alliance

SOMMa’s mission is to internationally promote, strengthen and maximise the value of the ground-breaking research produced by the Spanish ‘Severo Ochoa’ Centres and ‘María de Maeztu’ Units of Excellence and the scientific, social and economic impact it generates.

The “Severo Ochoa Centres of Excellence” and “María de Maeztu Units of Excellence” programmes

The Spanish Excellence Programmes of ‘Severo Ochoa’ Centres and ‘María de Maeztu’ Units identify and promote excellence in scientific research. They seek to boost Spanish science by recognising existing cutting-edge research centres and units, and by further supporting them to enhance their impact, their international scientific leadership, and competitiveness.

The evaluation and selection of centres and units is carried out by an independent international committee of prestigious scientists, through yearly open competition. The first call was launched in 2011. Successful proponents hold the Excellence award for a period of 4 years. More information can be found here.

Currently (since October 2019), 28 centres and 22 units hold the ‘Severo Ochoa’ Centres and ‘María de Maeztu’ Units of Excellence accreditations, respectively. They cover a wide breadth of scientific disciplines, from life sciences and medicine, mathematics, chemistry, physics, engineering, to humanities and social sciences.

Such initiatives to strengthen excellence at institutional- and unit-level are fundamental to originate and maintain stimulating, creative, and cutting-edge environments. The ultimate goal of this scientific ecosystem is to attract and nurture scientific talent and promote ground-breaking research, following principles of excellence, integrity, external peer-review, competitiveness, and international cooperation.

Severo Ochoa award
SOMMa Group Photo SO-MdM Award Ceremony - 2017 Call

The Alliance

After the launch and consolidation of these programmes, the ‘Severo Ochoa’ Centres and ‘María de Maeztu’ Units of Excellence aim to achieve a new level of collaboration, by creating an alliance.

The main purposes of SOMMa are to:

  1. Boost national and international visibility of Spanish research as an interdisciplinary and interconnected Spanish research ecosystem of excellence.
  2. Engage in outreach activities, addressed to different key stakeholders, such as the media, scientific community, politicians and policy-makers, general public, etc.
  3. Foster the exchange of scientific knowledge, technology and good practices, both in and outside the alliance, with the global scientific community and key stakeholders, therefore facilitating interdisciplinary collaboration and spreading excellence.
  4. Support and contribute to science policy in Spain and internationally.
  5. Attract and integrate talent, and favour mobility within Spain.
  6. Find synergies and collaboration opportunities with other research institutes and universities to push forward Spanish science.

An initiative that brings together centres of excellence in Spain, such as those recognized as ‘Severo Ochoa’ Centres and ‘María de Maeztu’ Units of Excellence, will surely result in a synergistic and long-term effect, where the “whole is more than the sum of its parts”. This will boost their impact on the attraction of scientific talent and research progress in Spain and abroad exponentially.

Key facts of the Alliance

SOMM alliance brings together the top-performing and most competitive Spanish research centres and units in all disciplines




Belong to the SOMM alliance. Of them, 28 currently hold the Severo Ochoa label. The first open call for applicants was launched in 2011
Belong to the SOMM alliance. Of them, 22 Currently hold the María de Maeztu label. The first open call for applicants was launched in 2014
From life sciences to humanities, from maths to engineering and to experimental and social sciences
The SOMM alliance was officially born during its kick-off meeting in Madrid

Coordination Board

Below you will find the members of the Coordination Board

  • Maria A. Blasco

    Maria A. Blasco

    SOMMa Chair Director at CNIO

  • María José Sanz

    María José Sanz

    SOMMa 1st Vice-Chair Director at BC3

  • Antonio Molina

    Antonio Molina

    SOMMa 2nd Vice-Chair Director at CBGP

  • Fernando Peláez

    Fernando Peláez

    SOMMa Project Manager Biotechnology Programme Director at CNIO