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Connect with Spain

On July 4th 2023, Switzerland and Spain signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to further strengthen the excellent collaboration between the two countries in research and innovation. Alberto Giovanetti, as Counsellor for Scientific and Cultural Affairs at the Embassy of Switzerland to Spain and Andorra , explains how he represents Swiss interests in the fields of education, vocational training, innovation, research, culture and sports in Spain and how you could be part of the journey.

What is your vision as Counsellor for
Scientific and Cultural Affairs at Spain for the next two years?

For Switzerland and especially for Swissnex, the recently signed MoU between Spain and Switzerland represents a considerable step forward for several reasons: it is the first to be signed with a European Union country and with the member State that is currently holding the Presidency of the Council (second half of 2023). In addition to this special institutional relevance, the MoU reaffirms the constant support to the respective research and innovation communities of both countries to undertake bilateral and multilateral activities, which have been regularly promoted by the Embassy of Switzerland to Spain and Andorra as well as by the Spanish counterparts. Finally, it intensifies cooperation between the two countries, especially in the priority areas of the bilateral cooperation, the promotion of joint projects between companies, universities and research centres of both countries, the fostering staff exchanges and the organisation of events such as seminars.
In the near future, I see a flourishing scientific and innovation collaboration between Spain and Switzerland. Both countries have recognised the importance of joining forces to address global challenges, such as climate change, energy transition or digital transformation. My role as a Counsellor for Scientific and Cultural Affairs should be to support scientists, researchers, experts and artists from both countries to work together on those areas. I also see myself as helping universities and research centres in both countries to be more actively engaged in academic exchanges and joint programmes. This not only drives innovation, but also promotes deeper understanding between both cultures and fosters joint problem solving.
In short, we should further work towards a future where science and innovation between Spain and Switzerland are closely intertwined, driving technological breakthroughs and improving the quality of life. This cooperation not only benefits both countries, but also has a positive impact on the global community as a whole. My role as Counsellor for Scientific and Cultural Affairs is to encourage this exchange and promote this development.

What are the trending sectors wherein you can curate impactful collaborations with Switzerland?

Some of these areas have already been identified, such as climate change and sustainability, digital transformation, energy transition, equality and diversity, life and health sciences, quantum technology and space. As innovation and research are constantly evolving, other priority areas may be added in the future. Indeed, the Memorandum foresees an annual bilateral meeting to define new priorities and adapt those already identified. One example of impactful collaboration is certainly the Swiss-Spanish Innovation Days, a flagship project, which annually creates a platform between experts from both countries on a priority innovation theme. In the past editions, AI, collaborative robotics or energy transition were explored. Following last year’s edition, a Spanish delegation of entrepreneurs went to Switzerland for a study week and to establish synergies. In the future, this project will study space and quantum.

How would it contribute towards the network’s overall goal of #ConnectingTomorrow?

Until now, the bilateral approach had followed the old Swissnex motto "Connecting the dots", organising exchange and dissemination events.
From now on and with the additional leverage of the MoU, we will start to apply the new Swissnex slogan "#Connecting tomorrow" to identify future trends, challenges and opportunities in education, research and innovation with the participation of relevant institutions in Switzerland and Spain, including the different interested communities of the broader Swissnex network as well as other external partners such as the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF), SwissUniversities, Switzerland Global Enterprise (S-GE), Innosuisse, GESDA, etc. The aim is that both countries collaborate in the development of technologies and solutions that will shape the future. An example of this is the Quantum project, in which the Swissnex representation to Spain is also involved in establishing bridges between Spanish institutions and relevant stakeholders in Switzerland and worldwide. The Barcelona Supercomputing Center, which will receive one of the six quantum computers of the European Union in the future, is in that regard a very concrete opportunity.

Lastly, how do you want your current and potential Swiss partners to be part of your journey / vision?

Education, research, innovation, trade and culture have linked Spain and Switzerland since the 15th century and even before. Both countries are naturally attracted to each other for work, life, innovation and culture. The opportunities for collaboration between Switzerland and Spain are diverse and multiple. If you also want to be part of our journey towards #ConnectingTomorrow, connect with us!

Connect with

Alberto Giovanetti

Counsellor for Scientific and Cultural Affairs, Embassy of Switzerland to Spain and Andorra