Ministerio de Economía y Competitividad - Gobierno de España Secretaría de Estado de Investigación, Desarrollo e Innovación - Ministerio de Economía y Competitividad - Gobierno de España

Ciencia e innovación

Severo Ochoa” Centres of Excellence and “María de Maeztu” Units of Excellence. Accreditation and Support

The “Severo Ochoa Centres of Excellence" and “María de Maeztu Units of Excellence” Support and Accreditation is a programme of the Secretary of State for Research, Development and Innovation of the Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness that aims to promote excellence in scientific research in Spain.

The programme seeks to boost research activities taking place in specific institutional and organizational environments in which a scientific community works closely together to achieve common objectives, facilitating interaction among its members and at the same time showing a high degree of openness to international collaboration.

It is aimed at recognizing existing centres and units that perform cutting-edge research and are among the world's best in their respective areas. The impact and international scientific leadership of these centres and units is essential for obtaining the distinction.

The evaluation and selection process is transparent and based on international best practices. It is carried out by independent Committees consisting of internationally renowned researchers. The Committees cover three scientific areas: “Life Sciences and Medicine”, “Mathematics, Experimental Sciences and Engineering” and “Humanities and Social Sciences”.

A limited number of “Severo Ochoa” centres of excellence or “María de Maeztu” units of excellence are accredited each year. At the end of the four-year accreditation period they may apply again for accreditation.

Centres/Units of Excellence

The Programme targets those centres or units that, while meeting the prerequisites of the Programme, carry out cutting-edge basic research and are among the world's best in their respective areas. Networks of centres or units are excluded.

The centres or units that apply to this programme must demonstrate that their research fulfills the programme’s requirements for excellence and that they:

  • Have a high level of competitiveness and impact in their field of activity on the world scientific scene.
  • Submit their research activities to periodic scientific assessment by external and independent scientific committees.
  • Carry out their research activities under a strategic programme designed to generate pioneering knowledge.
  • Attract, select and train human resources at the international level.
  • Maintain active collaboration and exchange agreements at the institutional level with high-level research centers.
  • Work to boost knowledge transfer and dissemination to society.

The Benefits of Accreditation

Accreditation as a “Severo Ochoa Centre of Excellence” or “María de Maeztu Unit of Excellence” has a duration of four years and includes:

  • One million Euros per year for each of the centres in this period. 500.000 Euros per year for each of the units. This funding has a high degree of flexibility and its use should be determined by duly justified strategic criteria for the accredited center.
  • Priority access to other initiatives of the Secretariat of State for Research, Development and Innovation to promote research, provided that the pertinent principles of transparency and competition are observed.
  • A boost to the reputation and social and scientific recognition of each centre that strengthens it as a candidate for patronage, among other benefits.

Scientific Leadership

Each “Severo Ochoa” Centre of Excellence or “María de Maeztu” Unit of Excellence must have a Scientific Director, who is not necessarily the director of the institution. The Scientific Director should perform research at the highest standards and also have a significant capacity for leadership in the management of research.

“Severo Ochoa” Centres of Excellence or “María de Maeztu” Units of Excellence must be centres or units of reference and clear examples of the quality and relevance of the pioneering scientific research carried out in Spain. As such, they should serve to lead and energize the Spanish research system as a whole and boost its international profile.


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