The report begins with an in-depth analysis of the Spanish economic reality, defined by SMEs, their temporary nature, structural unemployment of 12%, huge youth unemployment and low productivity compared to our European partners.
According to Javier García, the fourth industrial revolution is the train that is passing in front of us and that we are once again letting pass us by.
Since 1996, our country's exports have remained virtually unchanged. We continue to produce and export the same. Most of the leading countries in the economy have completely changed their production system. They have incorporated new technologies, while Spain continues to have a production system with a low level of economic complexity, which is what this Harvard University index analyses. This analysis highlights the low complexity of our production system. Therefore, it can be copied and relocated outside our country.
The ten INTEC 2021 technologies
From this perspective, the ten technologies selected in this year's report are as follows:
We have all suffered from telemedicine over the last year and a half because it has not lived up to the possibilities offered by the technology. The second generation of telemedicine will not only enable more efficient interaction with the healthcare system, but also reduce costs and improve diagnosis for the next generation of patients.
The shift from electron to photon will also have a huge advantage, not only in environmental impact, but also in the speed and efficiency of countless systems, such as LIDAR and LIFI, which are alternative technologies to radar and wifi based on light instead of passing electrons.
The generation of green hydrogen is the great opportunity for Spain. Spain is Europe's green electron factory, but if we sell green electrons, we sell raw materials. The idea is to use these electrons to generate green molecules, such as hydrogen or green ammonia, and thus move up the value chain and sell high value-added products instead of raw materials.
For more than a hundred years, Spain has been a leader in neuroscience. Today it is a leader in many technologies that show the brain-machine connection that will allow us to interact with robots and computers in a much more natural way.
5 Mathematical processing.
The following figures are surprising, but they show the enormous value of mathematics. In the UK, the contribution of mathematics to GDP is 43%. Behind this are insurance, logistics, the financial system. All these big industries are basically data. In Spain we still have a long way to go to ensure that the gold of the 21st century, data, is used as efficiently as possible. Mathematics has a fundamental role to play here. Hence the importance of education in mathematics, so that Spain can lead this data economy.
6 Augmented reality
We have suffered the non-augmented reality of videoconferencing, of screens. In the new technologies we are proposing, we are talking about a mixed reality (between virtual and augmented), in which it is impossible to distinguish the virtual world from the physical world. There are technologies that already allow this, and yet we are still far behind in terms of what technology allows for streaming communication. In practice, virtual reality is something that is still in the first generation when we have far superior technologies.
7 Quick tests
One of the great contributions to the fight against Covid has been the nanosensors that have allowed us to identify the presence of antibodies in a very sensitive way. But it is in the Third World where the potential of this type of sensor is really being realised, to identify diseases that are difficult to diagnose at a reasonable price, in countries that do not have a health system as advanced as ours.
Spain is a world power in supercomputing. We have excellent infrastructures and, undoubtedly, this capacity can help us take off. Mathematics, together with supercomputing, will allow us to lead in the use of data. We are leaders in supercomputing capacity. This is a tool we cannot afford to miss out on.
9 Precision farming
If one of all the technologies had to be singled out, it would undoubtedly be precision farming. Precision agriculture is a necessity for a country that overuses fertilisers, which causes very serious environmental problems; in a country that makes very poor use of resources, that has a shortage of water. Precision agriculture, that is, the use of nanosensors, the internet of things, satellite information, drones, would allow us not only to make better use of the countryside but also to contribute to repopulating depopulated Spain, giving greater benefit to the people who work in the countryside. Other countries are leaders in this sector -Israel is an example of precision agriculture- and there is no reason why our country should not be committed to the same type of technology.
Nanomedicine has played a very important role in Covid vaccines. These vaccines contain genetic material that would not have been able to enter cells without decades of research into intelligent drug delivery, in this case genetic material that enters our cells by endocytosis and enables our immune system to respond so effectively.
These technologies can improve the quality of life of our citizens and the competitiveness of our industries. Citizens who do not know about them are going to be technologically illiterate. When we have to make decisions on issues that will affect our quality of life, our employment and our industry, if we do not know what we are choosing, there is no freedom without knowledge.
Technology is important, but in the end it is about people. Technologies are not going to solve our problems; it is people who ultimately have to put them into practice and make them a reality. We are living in a very special moment. We are coming out of a pandemic. We have a tight economy. Public debt is huge. Structural unemployment is growing. The speed of transformation is increasing. It is important that we think about the country we want to build together. We have the funds, we have the technology, we have the human capacity, we have the infrastructure to make a more competitive country a reality. This undoubtedly involves science, technology, knowledge and people.