The industrial nature of Asturias is intrinsically linked to energy-industry. One reason for developing a strong competitive industry is that it can rely on an energy supply for iron and steel industry activities and can process materials like aluminum, steel, zinc and glass.
The importance of industry in Asturias, and in particular the metal industry (manufacture of capital goods, naval equipment, electrical components and installations etc.) is closely tied to the capacity needed to build major installations in oil and gas, offshore wind power, thermoelectric generation, etc.
Energy industry productionin 2018 was 5.94 % of the region's GVA and ranked as the second branch of industry after iron and steel metallurgy.
Asturias is the benchmark for electrical energy on the Spanish mainland, with 4.4% of installed power in 2017. The average primary per capita consumption nationally is 31.87 MWh/year, while in Asturias that parameter is 74.26 MWh/year.
Coal dominants the primary energy consumption structure (64%, as a result of the high rate of thermoelectric generation and use of coke in iron and steel manufacturing).
Flexible and reliable transport and distribution network needed to meet the high demand of electricity consumption and the overall density of generation facilities.
Food and beverages
Tradition and innovation go hand in hand in a sector with great growth potential. Agri-food is a major industry in Asturias, as the third branch of activity along with the metal and extractive industries, energy and water.
Asturias is one of the largest cheese-producing areas in Europe, with 20 officially certified varieties. Cabrales – a Protected Designation of Origin since 1981 – is possibly the prime example of Asturian gastronomy, along with cider, the traditional beverage, and the bean casserole known as fabada.
Along with the traditional cheese industry, there is an important dairy derivatives industry in Asturias (butter, powdered milk, yoghurt, deserts and other industrially produced cheeses).
Asturias is also a region with a long history of livestock farming. Meat from Asturias is highly prized both for eating fresh and in casseroles and charcuterie.
Main characteristics of the industry:
• A wide range of quality products with Protected Designation of Origin (DOP) and Protected Geographic Indication (IGP).
• Top quality raw materials.
• Brand consolidation in consumer mass market.
• Internationally renowned institutions and R&D centers: University of Oviedo, Dairy Institute of Asturias (IPLA), Asturias Dairy and Agri-food Interprofessional Laboratory (LILA), Asturias Service for agri-food Research and Development (SERIDA), Asturias Association of Meat Industries (ASINCAR)
• Growing interest in natural, artisan, gourmet and organic produce.
• Product diversification adapted to consumption trends.
• Recognition of Asturias' haute cuisine. Nine Michelin-starred restaurants in 2019.
• Industrial property vigorously protected.
Metal and Advanced Manufacturing
The metal industry in Asturias clearly shows how using the latest technologies, innovative production processes, occupational safety and environmental management systems, as well as ongoing vocational training, result in highly qualified workers.
In 2018, the volume of metal industry exports represented 68% of the region’s total exports or, €2.933 billion.
Main characteristics of the industry:
• Industrial culture rooted in regional history of mining and steelmaking.
• Strong local base of goods and services providers for industrial activities (engineering, assembly, maintenance, subcontracting).
• Main area in Spain for steel and metallurgy.
• Low worker turnover and above the national average in productivity.
• Gijón and Avilés industrial ports. Docks with expertise in steel and energy traffic, handling bulk solids and general goods, containers, conventional ships and Ro-Ro services.
• Internationally recognized R&D institutions and centers for materials and industrial design, nanotechnology and 3D printing.
• ARCELORMITTAL. Produces 4.2 million tons of steel at its plants in Asturias. The only heavy plate rolling mill in Spain. Makes 459 km of track for the Medina-Mecca high-speed train.
• ASTURIANA DE ZINC. Proprietary technology used to produce 525,000 tons of 99.995% electrolytic zinc. The Asturias factory is the largest electrolytic zinc plant in the world and among those with the lowest operating costs.
Nanotechnology and advanced materials
The Asturias Specialization Strategy (RIS3- Research and Innovation Smart Specialization Strategy), approved in 2014, defines the areas of ADVANCED AND SUSTAINABLE MATERIALS and NEW PRODUCTION MODELS as priorities.
The materials industry is the strongest and has the longest history in the region, and comprises large international (steel, aluminum, zinc, glass, chemical) and national (extraction, cement, refractory and waste) industrial groups. .
A major primary industry in Asturias for processing, it uses high temperature furnaces that can only operate with refractory materials. As a result, a very powerful local refractory industry including both local and major multinationals companies have evolved.
IUTA. University Institute of Industrial Technology Asturias in Oviedo
SCTs. Scientific and Technical Services for Research into Nanotechnology and Advanced Materials. University of Oviedo
INCAR. National Coal Institute of Oviedo. Spanish National Research Council (CSIC).
INCAR maintains a leadership position in the field of coal and in the science and technology of coal and carbon materials.
CINN. Nanomaterials and Nanotechnology Research Center. A research center created by the joint initiative of the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC), the Principality of Asturias and the University of Oviedo.
IDONIAL Foundation. Created in 2019 as a result of the merger of the ITMA and PRODINTEC centers, which respectively have 28- and 14-years’ experience. The center accordingly has extensive technology to satisfy company needs, and that is applicable to a wide range of industries; as well as an expert and multidisciplinary team of people interested in development and innovation.
Medicine and BioHealth are strategic industries in Asturias.
Asturias is committing heavily to developing biotechnology, bioinformatics and biomedicine by promoting facilities such as the Asturias Central University Hospital (HUCA), and supporting R&D projects at the University of Oviedo and the innovative work initiated by the Fernández-Vega Ophthalmological Institute.
Asturias Health Service (SESPA), with a budget of over €1.713 billion in 2018, is a
leading “company” in the region, with 16,000 direct jobs and nearly 39% of the regional budget. SESPA interacts with over 250 companies in several productive industries with turnover exceeding €400 million
Prominent entities. HUCA. Central University Hospital of Asturias. In 2013 HUCA completed work on its current building in Oviedo. The new HUCA is a unique space for healthcare, training and research, and for developing synergies with surrounding infrastructures, namely FINBA, the Public Healthcare Laboratory and the business incubator for health science companies.
University of Oviedo. Training courses in biomedicine and healthcare at the University of Oviedo are among the most acclaimed in Spain, and host numerous research projects related to biotechnology, particularly at IUBA (University Biotechnology Institute), IUOPA (University Oncology Institute of Asturias) and INEUROPA (University Neuroscience Institute of Asturias)
FINBA. The Foundation for Biosanitary Research and Innovation in Asturias. FINBA is responsible for managing state-of-the-art biomedical research in Asturias. The organization is promoted by the government of the Principality of Asturias in partnership with the University of Oviedo and is backed by several companies that contribute either as sponsors or charitable entities.
Business incubator for health sciences. A center for business initiatives in health science RDI, near the Asturias Central University Hospital (HUCA).
BioBanco. BioBanco has more than 60,000 human biological samples for use in research projects. It comprises the National Biobanks Network of the Carlos III Health Institute, which itself is part of the European biobanking network BBMRI – Biobanking and Biomolecular Resources Research Infrastructure.
The Asturias Technology Park Bio incubator, sponsored by the Economic Development Agency of Asturias (IDEPA) and managed by the CEEI, is an innovative space that offers accommodation and equipment adapted specifically to the needs of “bio” companies.
FIO. Ophthalmological Research Foundation. Sponsored by the Fernández-Vega Ophthalmological Institute, FIO together with internationally renowned professionals, develops translational research into ocular surface and cornea diseases, genetic eye disorders and ocular neurobiology.
Bioprinting: Technology Center for industrial production and design in Asturias (IDONIAL) is internationally recognized for its work in 3D bioprinting. Its aim is to produce human tissues and organs with the same additive manufacturing techniques.
ICT and creative industries
The industrial ecosystem in Asturias has undergone a sweeping transformation in recent years, with advanced services taking on a greater role. Asturias is home to Spanish and foreign companies that have set up in the region, most notably in the past decade, and that now contribute significantly to employment in the industry.
Main characteristics of the industry:
• Broadband Internet access throughout the region.
• Firm cooperative efforts like the ICT cluster and the Innovative Business Knowledge Group.
• Internationally renowned R&D institutions and centers, such as the Information and Communication Technology Center (CTIC), which is also home to the Spanish and Latin American headquarters of the W3C (World Wide Web), the most important international Internet standardization body.
• Laboral Center for Art and Industrial Creation, whose board include companies such as Telefónica R&D and the energy multinational, EDP Energy.