The Black Hole of Iberia

If you want to know where that $18 billion dollars of government funding has gone for nanotechnology research, you wouldn’t be too far off the mark if you guessed that a lot of it has gone to construction companies.

The latest scheme to enrich the construction industry in the Iberian peninsula comes from the Spanish and Portuguese Ministry of Technology with each sinking 15 million Euros into building a facility in Braga Portugal. That’s about 2/3 of all the nanotech cash available through the UKs MNT network, which at least resulted in a few facilities being built, and judging by past perfomance, will account for the entire Iberian nanotech budget from now until 2050.

It is especially bizarre considering that we reported in 2004 on a report from the European Commission “Towards a European strategy for nanotechnology” that Spain (along with Portugal) were right at the bottom of per capita spending on Nanotech. With its 4 cents per person spent on Nanotech, Spain invested 1.6 million Euros in nanotech in 2004.

Didn’t it cross any one’s mind to support actual research, or, god forbid, bridge the financing gap between a science project and a product. “Ay Caramba! We know nothing about technology senor, but we do like shiny new buildings, especially when lining our pockets is subsisided by the EU.”

To be fair to the Spanish, similar solutions to nanotech cash have been found in Italy, while in the UK paying consultants to do due diligence on consultants has a similar effect – that of keeping any cash out of the hands of the scientific community, but at least some did trickle through to fund research.

However, if anyone from Iberia could enlighten us as to why the research community is starved of cash and equipment, and many Spanish universities resemble those in devloping countries while the contruction industry is awash with cash and making acquisitions from Heathrow to Bucharest we will be happy to enlighten our readers.

Is this Europe’s fifth largest economy or a banana republic? It is increasingly hard to tell the difference.

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