Thursday, November 3, 2011

Sad news from CIPF: the rise and fall of the "flagship" of valencian research

For those who don't know. I am originally from Valencia. There, one of the deepest traditions and the main festivity are the so-called "Falles", which in part consist of building huge temporary cardboard sculptures which are exposed for little more than a week and then burned in a big fire. For some people is hard to understand how so much time and money is invested in something that is then left to the flames.

Apparently, something similar is happening with a research centre!!!

 The "Centro de Investigación Príncipe Felipe" was created in 2005 by the local Valencian government with the idea of making it the "flagship" of research in the region. It came with a strong investment from the regional and central governments and soon attracted many scientists. I was one of the seduced scientists, who originally from Valencia, and at that time in the Netherlands was enthusiastic about a move aiming to put biomedical research in Valencia at the forefront.

 Five years after its creation, the cuts started. Crisis had hit Spanish economy and many local governments had big debts, particularly that of Valencia who has been famous for investing in huge events such as the America's cup or the formula 1 competition. When things went complicated, research was seen as one of the most superfluous thing in which a government could invest, and thus cuts were announced. This year the centre is firing 40% of the personnel, including PhD candidates at the middle of their PhD. I guess many of the remaining researchers will leave this downsized center for a better live elsewhere. The flagship is now sinking, "burned" after so much investment and efforts, the comparison to our "Falles" is unavoidable.

The whole story is reported by Nature and by many articles in the Spanish press. As Juli Peretó reports, the local government is letting CIPF fall, while keeping investing on other type of events, such as an international Golf tournament in Castelló, or increasing the funds for a motorbike circuit. This is most ironic, and deeply sad.

 I just wish the best for my many ex-colleagues that are still at CIPF and hope this is not the kind of science policy that the future government of Spain (according to polls is likely to be the same conservative party that is now governing in Valencia) is planning.


  1. Toni, I am sorry to read this.
    I hope that the young researchers will find other opportunities rapidly. Is this also affecting the CRG in Barcelona?
    It is so stupid to cut into the tiny sums which represent so much future investment.
    Send them this link:
    Good luck!

  2. Thanks for your comment.

    I would say all research centres in Spain have been more or less affected by the crisis. For instance all university professors and researchers at the research council got their salaries cut by 5% recently.

    However, there is different strategies depending on the public body that finance a centre. CRG is mostly funded by the Catalan government. Here, the strategy is to cut around 5% the funding for CRG (in CIPF, in Valencia, has been like 60%!), which it boils down to stop the plans for growing (e.g hiring new group leaders, buying big infrastructure), but letting what is achieved so far untouched. This seems a more reasonable approach. I think Spain was really performing a change in terms of its science policy in the last decade, and now everything can be lost in a couple of years.