Innovation is gaining strength in the Spanish economy as a whole. According to data from the National Institute of Statistics (INE), Spain has recorded three consecutive years of investment growth in RDI, and a higher rate of growth than nominal GDP.

Turnover in high and medium-high technology companies was up 6.2% in 2017 and Spanish exports increased by 8.5%.

Source: INE.

Advantages of investing

in Spain’s RDI ecosystem

Tax deductions and subsidies for RDI activities

Surge in open innovation, led by major corporations

Growing innovation ecosystem: increase in patent registrations


Favourable environment for recruiting talent: Social Security contribution discounts


Secure environment for intellectual property protection

Leader in use of open data 

R&D ecosystem

In Spain there is a wide network of Centers, Technology Parks and Universities that promote innovation in the country.


Open to

business innovation

The Spanish market is very receptive to business innovation.

According to the 2019 European Innovation Scoreboard, Spain scores high in sales impact/sales of new-to-market and new-to-firm innovations, which measures the turnover generated by new products and products being ranked second in Europe.

Business has contributed decisively to R&D, with an 8.2% increase in investment. Substantial investments by multinational companies established in Spain account for 38.4% of total business assets. Public investment is recovering, and last year saw a 3.3% increase.


Get to know what the Spanish ecosystem has to offer.

Research Talent

Spain has talent devoted to innovation. 215,713 people participated in R&D activities in Spain in 2017, 133,195 of these being researchers. This represents an increase of 6,500 over the previous year, when R&D investment by companies was up 8.3%.

Favourable environment for hiring talent

Spain provides a favourable environment for hiring talent, by offering companies a 40% discount in Social Security contributions for common contingencies to all research staff that work solely on RDI during the time they are at the company.

Researchers / Total

Date: 2017

In figures: 133,213 people

Staff employed / Total

Date: 2017

In figures: 215,745 people

What we can do
for your startup


the Starting up in Spain Guide

All you need to know about the entrepreneurship ecosystem in Spain.

Find out more


Rising UP in Spain

Rising UP in Spain is a programme to help foreign startups set up in Spain, hand in hand with a local partner.

Find out more


Leaders in Europe

Spain ranks fourth among countries in the European Union that receive most European funds  for innovation projects. Private funding has also practically doubled.


As a result of Spain’s leadership in science and innovation in Europe, the country has received 43 million euros in projects financed by Horizon 2020, and is the first country to win these grants in the last two awards.

Source: Ministry of Science and Innovation

Aids and incentives


Spain has an advantageous tax system for RDI thanks to tax deductions established by law for this type of activity, which is an incentive that multinationals rate highly when setting up their RDI in the country (Multinationals in Spain study, Business Climate in Spain survey, Nov. 2018). The importance of SMEs in RDI private investment is especially noteworthy.

Find out more

Public funding for RDI:

The Industrial Technology Development Centre (CDTI) offers a wide range of subsidies and loans for technology projects at competitive interest rates.

The National Innovation Company (ENISA) funds SMEs with up to 1.5 million euros in participation loans and with no guarantee required.

The public organization RED.ES promotes programmes to foster the digital economy, innovation, entrepreneurship and support for SMEs by encouraging the efficient and intensive use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs).

The Ministry of Science and Innovation is responsible for promoting scientific and technical research, development and innovation, with various R&D-centred programmes.

Invest in Spain/ICEX has a programme that supports foreign companies with up to 200,000 euros for investments, having a major R&D component and a competitive bidding procedure. 

The Spanish National Research Council (CSIC) is the largest public institution in Spain devoted to scientific and technical research and one of largest in the European Research Area. It is attached to the Ministry of Science and Innovation through the General Secretariat for the Coordination of Scientific Policy. Its mission is to promote, coordinate, develop and disseminate scientific and technological research with a multidisciplinary focus in order to advance knowledge and economic, social and cultural development, and to train staff and advise public and private bodies in these areas.

We finance
your R&D project in Spain



Programme financed by de Recovery Transformation and Resilience Plan to support Foreign companies to settle R&D Projects in Spain

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Smart Technology Fund

Investment programme for foreign companies in R&D activities

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of Smart Technology Fund
See all the testimonials

OP Technical Centre SL

Joaquim Antao Commercial and Technical Manager

Extremely comprehensive support that offered excellent assistance in an R&D project from beginning to end (studies, validation, product start-up). This support is also adapted to up-and-coming and recently established companies.


Mikel Larrazabal Head of Finance

This was a very important subsidy for a new line of research and development that enabled us to start promoting the commercial use of PIHER products for the medical sector.

Spanish patent applications in Europe

Patent applications (Units)

The OEPM is renowned for streamlining its processes and for facilitating online registration of trademarks and designs through its website.

This has resulted in four consecutive years of increases, according to the OEP's 2019 Annual Report. The study indicates that this increase confirms a clear upward trend in patent applications from Spain, much higher than the average for the 38 member states of the European Patents Office, which was 3.8% in 2018.

Patent applications filed by Spain at the European Patents Office (OEP) was up 6.3% in 2018 compared to the previous year.

Leader in

open data

Spain is the second leading European country in open data after Ireland, according to the Open Data Maturity in Europe 2019 on

For the fifth consecutive year, Spain features for having an advanced open data strategy with 90% capacity.


The website also ranks Spain as a model for good practices in open data in its Analytical Report 13: Open Data best practices in Europe’s Top Performers (April 2019).


The consulting company Capgemini Invent also ranked Spain second in its “Open Data Maturity Report in Europe in 2019”.


Open Data Maturity 2018
Scores per dimension, Top 3 Performers

Intellectual and industrial property



ICEX-Invest in Spain will participate from 29 to 31 May 2024 in GITEX AFRICA, one of the largest entrepreneurship events held in Africa and aimed at the global startup ecosystem, giving them the opportunity to present their innovative projects among investors, accelerators/incubators, companies and public institutions dedicated to innovation.

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More information
Setting up a company

The different ways in which a company can operate in Spain.

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Funding and incentives

System of funding and incentives for your project.

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Get to know the Spanish talent pool for your project.

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Visas and residence permits to live and work in Spain.