Severo Ochoa – María de Maeztu 2017 resolution: the Alliance grows

·The day after the past 100xCiencia.3, the final resolution of the Severo Ochoa and María de Maeztu awards were known

·All the new awardee institutions decide to join SOMMa

·This brings about further growth of the territorial and discipline coverage of SOMMa

Twelve cutting-edge Spanish institutions were awarded the “María de Maeztu” or “Severo Ochoa” distinctions of excellence on past November the 16th. These awards, that come with a notable economic provision of 2 or 4 million euros (for units and centres, respectively), will provide those funds over a timeframe of four years. One of the main purposes of this injection of funds: strengthening the research of the awardees and their environment, in a strive for excellence.

The Severo Ochoa and María de Maeztu distinctions, that recognise Spanish research institutions of excellence across all fields of knowledge, have created an opportunity to enlarge the alliance further with an outstanding repertoire of new research institutions. In the meantime, the following Severo Ochoa / María de Maeztu calls have yet been opened, which may entail a further growth of the alliance in the medium term.

Renewal of the pioneers, and joining of the new

Four centres that already were members of SOMMa have had their mentions of excellence renewed. One new Severo Ochoa centre and seven María de Maeztu units obtain this year the distinction for the first time. All of the new awardees have decided to join the SOMM Alliance, an initiative created in the year 2017 that defends and promotes the sustainability and excellence of research in Spain. A full list of the members can be found at the end of this article.

The reinforcement of SOMMa by institutions from Andalusia, Cantabria and the Balearic Islands results in the strengthening of the geographic distribution of the alliance and of the benefits of the Severo Ochoa / María de Maeztu programme. The repertoire of disciplines represented in SOMMa enriches with research fields such as astrobiology, computational chemistry, and interdisciplinary and systems physics provided by the new members. These add on top of fields of knowledge already present in the alliance as astrophysics, neuroscience, biomaterials or climate change studies, that are also reinforced by other of the new participants.

Group picture of participants in past 100xCiencia.3, with presence of almost all the alliance members
Group picture of participants in past 100xCiencia.3, with presence of almost all the alliance members

The considerable leverage of the combined SOMMa members increases with the resolution of the new Severo Ochoa – María de Maeztu call. Overall figures of funds, staff, scientific production and participation in collaborative and competitive projects by SOMMa members were yet remarkable, and increase now even further. In addition, this scientific prowess translates not only in scientific output numbers, but also in the growing creation of businesses and products generating economic and social benefits.

A larger SOMMa

New and veteran members of the still young alliance join forces to boost the economic and social impact of science. In line with this, the past and future actions of SOMMa aim at promoting an improving the legal framework for Spanish science bearing in mind the specificities of the research activity. Some of the examples of such actions include the demand of standardized criteria for VAT reduction, adjustment of the legislation regarding personnel recruitment or for public tender calls in research institutions, as can be read here.

With the recent resolution, SOMMa reinforces its condition as a Spanish pole of interdisciplinary knowledge, with and ever-increasing potential for collaboration, that it wants to leverage. Altogether, its potential grows as an actor and advocate in favour of the long-term sustainability of Spanish research in all fields, and for the Spanish research ecosystem as a whole.

Members of SOMMa having their Severo Ochoa mention renewed:

Institut català de nanociència i nanotecnología (ICN2)

Centro nacional de biotecnologia (CNB)

Basque Centre for Applied Mathematics (BCAM)

Instituto de neurociencias (IN)

New Severo Ochoa centre:

Instituto de astrofisica de andalucia (IAA)

New María de Maeztu units:

Instituto de fisica interdisciplinar y sistema complejos (IFISC)

BC3 Basque Centre for Climate Change

Asociación Centro de Investigación Cooperativa en Biomateriales (CIC biomaGUNE)

Institut de Neurociències de la Universidad de Barcelona (UBNeuro)

Centro de astrobiologia (CAB)

Instituto de Fisica de Cantabria (IFCA)

Institut de Quimica Teòrica i Computacional de la Universidad de Barcelona(IQTUB)

Picture Credits:

Group picture kindly provided by CNIO, as co-organizer of 100xCiencia.3

Frontpage picture of the Severo Ochoa award, kindly provided by the CRG.