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Snap shot of the round tables of the 100xCIENCIA Forum. Credits: Inés Bonet (IAC).

The 20 Severo Ochoa Centers of Excellence organise 100xCIENCIA Forum

The 20 Spanish research centers accredited with the Severo Ochoa Excellence distinction– two of which are the Institute for Bioengineering of Catalonia (IBEC) and the Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB Barcelona), based at PCB–  met for the first time and for three days, to analyze the current situation of Spanish science and its key actors under the framework of '100XCIENCIA Communicating frontier science'. The event, which was held from 7 to 9 October in Santa Cruz de la Palma, was closed a clear message: Science has to be conveyed to society for continued growth.


100XCIENCIA, which has already referred to  as the ‘summit’ of science communication in Spain, gathered at the Teatro Circo de Marte more than 200 people to exchange experiences, debate and build proposals concerning the role the media and scientific research have to play in the innovation and research ecosystem.

Kenneth Chang, a newspaper journalist specializing in science at The New York Times, gave the opening speech of the forum titled “Why does anyone care about dinosaurs, Pluto and the Higgs boson Anyway?” The presentation took place after the official opening by the President of the Council of La Palma, Anselmo Pestana; the mayor of Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Sergio Matos; and the director of the Institute of Astrophysics of the Canary Islands (IAC) and Chairman of the Organizing Committee, Rafael Rebolo.

The first  ‘casting’ of science in Spain

The heads of the twenty centers where the best science in the country is conducted, along with journalists and promoters of major national and international media, as well as renowned politicians, shared their experiences on the reality of scientific research and dissemination in a  series of round tables, outreach and dissemination sessions, and speeches by leading representatives of the different research centers.

In this context, Josep Samitier, Director at IBEC, stressed the need for interdisciplinary science: “Interdisciplinarity means approaching the frontier, going beyond the comfort zone.” At the center he leads, physicists and molecular biologists work together to gain further insight, among other challenges, into the aging process, through all possible strategies: from regenerative medicine to genomics. “Scientists, like children, have turned the “why” into their job”, he said.

“We need scientists to explain to people why research is important for everyone.” This was one of the main messages delivered by Joan Guinovart, director of IRB Barcelona, who began his speech humming the melody of the video ‘Scientists at IRB Barcelona dance for cancer, Alzheimer’s and diabetes research”, a pioneering initiative in Europe for a research center. In the video, the scientists who work at the center dance to the accord of the music in an attempt to increase awareness of and support the research conducted at this biomedical research center. Launched in October 2014 at YouTube, to date it has received over 1,000,000 visits in 200 countries and has raised thousands of euros for research. Guinovart also gave a talk on ‘Diabetes’, which was open to the general public.

The President of the Canary Islands, Rafael Clavijo; the Secretary of State for Research, Development and Innovation, Carmen Vela; and the director of the Institute of Astrophysics of the Canary Islands, together with the Chairman of the Forum´s Organizing Committee o, Rafael Rebolo, closed the meeting. Vela emphasized the quality of the Severo Ochoa centers “which can be compared to that of any research institute in the world” and said that during his term which lasts until 2016 “this program is guaranteed. “She insisted that the future lies in science and asked for the collaboration of all to make Spain” a country of science.

“100xCIENCIA is organized by the 20 Severo Ochoa Centers of Excellence accredited to date by the Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness (MINECO), sponsored by the local government of La Palma and Banco Santander, as well as with collaboration of the Santa Cruz de la Palma City Council and Telefónica. This is the first coordinated effort in communication of these research centers, and its aim is to create a collaboration space to optimize and join their efforts on communication and dissemination.

Manifest in favor of urgent reform of the laws governing science

As part of the 100XCIENCIA forum, representatives of the Severo Ochoa center of excellence, read a joint statement in which they encourage  “our political leaders to formalize an Act of Science that would ensure financial stability of scientific activity, moving away from the political swings. They also stressed the need to make an urgent major reform of the laws governing scientific activity to ensure its competitiveness. Without the necessary stability and the proper tools Spanish competitiveness will not move forward.”

At the same time, the directors of these centers -which bring together more than 3,000 national researchers-  are requesting “political organizations to define their position on scientific research and clearly describe  their commitment to their electoral programs and governmental actions on this subject, so that people can support with their vote  the political choices that are clearly intended to promote and strengthen scientific research.”