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Spain aims to promote excellence in scientific research

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The Spanish government has announced the accreditation of 25 centres and 16 research units with the ‘Severo Ochoa’ and ‘María de Maeztu’ excellence distinctions which have now formed the Severo Ochoa and María de Maeztu Alliance (SOMMa) to help drive scientific research in Spain.

Among the accredited centres is the Barcelona Supercomputing Centre which has been given a distinction for its research into mathematics, experimental science and engineering

Carmen Vela Olmo the Secretary of State of Investigation, Development and Innovation, part of the Spanish Ministry of Economy, Industry and Competitiveness chaired the opening meeting of the SOMMa organisation which was attended directors and representatives of all centres that approved the creation of the Alliance and defined its strategic and working plan for the coming months.

‘Excellence attracts excellence, and therefore this alliance is another step toward generating synergies and strengthening the quality of the Severo Ochoa and María de Maeztu centres and research units,’ states Vela.

The goal of the organisation is to promote Spanish science through the recognition of research efforts at the forefront of their fields, help them increase their impact, and international scientific leadership and competitiveness.

‘The future of impactful research and innovation in Spain and Europe lies in the convergence of technologies, methodologies and disciplines, capable of carrying out ambitious projects performed in cooperation among centres, units and teams from different organisations. This alliance is a major step forward in this direction, as it will let us strengthen the links of cooperation among existing research centres and units that we have in Spain,’ Vela added.

The Severo Ochoa centres and María de Maeztu units propose reaching new lines of cooperation with the creation of the Alliance of Severo Ochoa and Maria de Maeztu Centres of Excellence (SOMMa). Luis Serrano, director of the Centre for Genomic Regulation, will head the alliance over the next two years, while Teresa Garcia-Milà, director of the Barcelona Graduate School of Economics will be its vice-president.

‘In science, alliances are always positive. Joining forces at all levels enriches the R&D+i ecosystem,’ explains Luis Serrano, director of the Centre for Genomic Regulation (CRG) and president of the new SOMM Excellence Alliance.

‘We hope that this union of centres and units of excellence in Spain will generate a long-term synergetic effect, and will have an exponential impact on talent recruitment and the advancement of research in Spain and beyond our borders. Such projects are fundamental to guarantee stimulating, creative environments of excellence’ commented Serrano.

SOMMa aims to raise the national and international profile of science in Spain; promote the exchange of knowledge, technology and best practices among its members, the international scientific community and the main stakeholders; cooperating with other research centres in Spain to strengthen the R&D+i system; and having a voice in Spanish and European science policy.

SOMMa will have a number of working groups to achieve its goals. Among them are raising the profile, increasing cooperation, furthering scientific policy, results dissemination or project sustainability, among others.

The organisation will soon launch a web platform to consolidate information on SOMMa activities and progress. A full list of all the participating organisations can be found on the Barcelona Supercomputing Centre website