Type of Intervention: Executive Order, Specific Action
Sectors Involved: Health, Financial and Economic, Research and Development
Level of Jurisdiction: National
Lead People/Agency: Ministry of Science and Innovation and Ministry of Health
Overview: New budget line of specific R&D funding with 30 million Euros for public research institutions and innovation budget line to provide up to 500 million Euros in direct support to mid-caps and SMEs.
The Royal Decree-Law 8/2020, of 17th March, on extraordinary urgent measures to deal with the economic and social impact of the new corona virus COVID-19, has included the creation of new budget line of specific R&D funding with 30 million Euros for public research institutions. The Royal Decree Law has also included a dedicated CDTI (Centre for the Development of Industrial Technology) budget line to provide up to 500 million Euros in direct support to mid-caps and SMEs throughout partially reimbursable grants, with no need for any financial guarantee or collateral, seeking to facilitate access to capital for ongoing R&I projects or innovations needed to face the COVID 19 consequences.
The Spanish research against COVID-19 is competitive and will bring results with the purpose to strengthen it in the research for the COVID-19 different measures has been put in place:
• The Instituto de Salud Carlos III (ISCIII) which depends on the Ministry of Science and Innovation, has launched the COVID-19 call to finance research projects on the SARS-CoV-2 virus and the disease it causes, COVID-19. This call will have 24 million euros available, as approved by Royal Decree-Law 8/2020, of 17 March, on extraordinary urgent measures to deal with the economic and social impact of the new coronavirus. With this new resources, the ISCIII, as a health research funding body, will develop an urgent program of aid for projects and programs that aim to generate knowledge about the infection: to analyze and know the biology of the virus; to develop new therapeutic and prophylactic options, including vaccines; to develop an epidemiological surveillance system and to analyze its impact from the point of view of the health services.
The initiatives presented, which may be based on projects already under development or be new initiatives, should focus on the following areas:
• Development of techniques for rapid virological diagnosis of COVID-19, transferable to the industrial field and applicable to health care, with a priority focus on the diagnosis of early stages of infection and the management of severe cases to optimize stratification and health care.
• Clinical, biological and molecular characterization of the disease, with analysis of clinical stages, prognostic stratification and possible complications.
• Development of innovative therapies, new antiviral, antiseptic and disinfectant molecules against SARS-CoV-2; studies of antiviral resistance and the effectiveness of non-pharmacological, prophylactic and therapeutic interventions.
• Characterization of SARS-CoV-2, knowledge of genetic and antigenic variation of the virus and management of the immune response and virus-host interaction.
• Development of vaccines, analysis of their efficacy and applicability
• Epidemiological surveillance and molecular study of COVID-19, with analysis of the incidence of mortality, morbidity and lethality; study of environmental and social factors of the spread, risk factors and population dynamics of the infection.
• Use of artificial intelligence tools and massive analysis of integrated data oriented to the epidemiological control of the COVID-19.
• Socio-economic impact of the disease: use of primary care resources, general hospital resources and critical care resources.
Research projects must respect the fundamental principles established in the current wording of the Declaration of Helsinki, promulgated by the World Medical Association, in the Council of Europe Convention on Human Rights and Biomedicine, in the UNESCO Universal Declaration on the Human Genome and Human Rights, as well as comply with the requirements established in Spanish legislation in the field of biomedical research, personal data protection and bioethics.
In addition, the National Biotechnology Centre (CNB) of the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC) will receive 4.45 million € for coronavirus research. CSIC is going to promote the development of its current research and advance in protection strategies against SARS-CoV2. CNB is a worldwide pioneer in a method for cloning viruses that allows them to be genetically manipulated to attenuate their virulence and achieve a vaccine. Teams led by professors Luis Enjuanes and Isabel Sola, and by Mariano Esteban and Juan García Arriaza, are already working on two independent, complementary project to study the mechanisms of pathogenesis of the new coronavirus, and to produce vaccine prototypes.
The CNB project has six objectives: to generate basic tools and experimental models for the development of protection strategies; identification and testing of antiviral compounds for the treatment of SARS-CoV2; development of specific monoclonal antibodies for protection against the infection; development of the next generation of vaccine candidates; molecular, structural and functional characterization, and computer modeling to understand the spread of the new coronavirus.
The ISCIII, the CNB and other research centers have been declared critical health infrastructures and therefore remain fully operational for COVID-19 research.
In the domain of “clinical trials” related with the COVID19 the Spanish Agency for Drugs and Health Products (Agencia Española de Medicamentos y Productos Sanitarios (AEMPS) has authorized two new clinical trials with a new molecule (remdesivir) for patients with severe respiratory disease. The Ministry of Health is also involved in clinical trials with WHO with drugs related to HVI.
Ministry of Science and Innovation throughout the CDTI – Centre for the Development of Industrial Technology- has been launching extraordinary measures to contribute to the fight against COVID19 and to support business R&I activities and capacities to prevent the slowdown of innovation in Spain, protect business R&I employment and maintain the competitiveness of the Spanish economy through innovation. Actions are part of current CDTI programs, and special attention will be paid to those proposals that may contribute to COVID19 health emergency. The measures adopted include:
1. Exemption from guarantees (from March 14, 2020) requested in partially reimbursable grants for R&I projects of SMEs and midcaps ranging from 0,5-1,0 Million EUROS for SMEs, to 3 Million EUROS for midcaps. For R&I projects related to products considered emergency by the Government in relation to COVID-19, the exemption of guarantees will be doubled. This measure will mobilize around 500 million EUROS.
2. Fast track for proposals in order to help business to maintain its R&i initiatives and prioritizing projects related to COVID19 products.
3. Flexible administrative procedures: (1) extension of justification periods by one month for finalizing projects; (2) flexibility in the repayment of partially reimbursable grants;
4. From March 14, 2020 to June 30, 2020: exemption of payment of interests on principal and/or ordinary for companies benefiting from partially reimbursable grants, when the payment is made within a maximum period of 4 months from it is due. This measure will only be applicable to companies that have a valid loan contract with CDTI.
5. Expansion of the “Direct Expansion Line (LIC-A)” currently limited to Andalusia, Canary Islands, Castilla y León, Castilla-La Mancha, Comunidad Valenciana (excluding the city of Valencia), Extremadura, Galicia and Region of Murcia, to the entire national territory
6. Flexibility of criteria for accessing to “Innvierte Coinversión” (until June 30, 2020) to especially support SMEs and facilitate access to capital through CDTI co-investment mechanism. CDTI will accelerate time to funding -the minimum time from investors’ analysis to approval-. Innvierte’s initial minimum investment requirement is reduced to 250,000 EUROS, jointly considering all investors are leveraged. For actions aimed at technological developments related to COVID19, Innvierte investments may be below 250,000 EUROS to accelerate innovative projects uptake.
Full details here: https://www.lamoncloa.gob.es/consejodeministros/referencias/Paginas/2020/refc20200317.aspx