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