The Prizes call for greater public-private collaboration in Pamplona to bring science closer to SMEs

01 | 03 | 2024

Businessmen, research institutes and prizes winners, among others, participated in the event, organized by the Rei Jaume I Prizes Foundation with the collaboration of the Valencian Association of Entrepreneurs (AVE) and ADEFAN. All of them have been reminded that the deadline for submitting candidatures for this year’s edition is now open.

Research, science and the private sector share a clear vocation to serve society. However, their agents (universities, research centers and companies) are not completely aligned. The Rei Jaume I Prizes, presented at a meeting held at the Museum of the University of Navarra in Pamplona, seek precisely to reduce this distance, and bring the two sectors closer together in order to promote the growth and development of society.

The researchers and entrepreneurs invited to the round table discussion held on the occasion of this presentation day debated precisely all of this. A forum moderated by the science popularizer, professor at the University of La Rioja and presenter of the TVE program Órbita Laika, Eduardo Sáenz de Cabezón, in which the participants agreed on the need to promote meeting forums that foster the necessary trust and in which they called for greater public-private collaboration to bring science closer, above all to SMEs.

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Yolanda Torres, vice-president of MTorres and member of ADEFAN, particularly emphasized this demand. “Large and medium-sized companies also need small companies to have access to technology and innovation so that they can continue to generate value in the market”, she explained. There, Torres considered that the role that the administration and its one-stop shops should play “is fundamental”. “As a society, we cannot allow small companies to continue to be left out of major research projects,” he said.

Along the same lines, Benito Jiménez, president, CEO of Congelados de Navarra, associate of ADEFAN and winner of the Rei Jaume I award in the Entrepreneur category in 2021, defended the need to generate research ecosystems “that go far beyond the issue of tax incentives”. “The more collaboration, the more entrepreneurs will be willing to invest in research”, he added.

For his part, the scientific director of the CIMA of the University of Navarra, Antonio Pineda, raised the importance of discussing the “intangibles” that facilitate the movement of researchers and scientists. “I would like to see this aspect addressed more in order to facilitate the attraction of talent,” he said. Meanwhile, Inés Echeverría, director of R&D&I at CNTA, highlighted the opportunities, benefits and advantages that biotechnology, digitalisation and Artificial Intelligence (AI) “applied in a broad manner to achieve increasingly efficient organisations” are going to bring, with a view to the future.


Previously, the president of the Foundation, Vicente Boluda, also the highest representative of the Valencian Association of Businessmen (AVE), recalled that “these awards should be launched by civil society and we are here with the sole aim of being known and supported”. In his opinion, the world’s leading regions are those in which the private sector is most involved. “Entrepreneurs must take a step forward by opening the doors of our organisations to scientists and researchers who allow us to innovate and, with this, to develop our business projects,” he added.

Meanwhile, the executive president of the Rei Jaume I Awards, Javier Quesada, was in charge of presenting the Rei Jaume I Awards in Pamplona, its trajectory, its award winners and its main aims. In this sense, he warned that “if a significant part of the GDP is not invested in science, the consequences will be extremely serious and the longer it takes for companies to approach Science and Technology, the more Spain will run the risk of falling into the second or third international division”.

Along the same lines, the president of the Association for the Development of Family Businesses in Navarre (ADEFAN), Iñaki Ecay, called for society to be made aware of “the real contribution that companies make not only on an economic level but also in social and environmental matters”.


The presentation, which took place at the Museo Universidad de Navarra, on the university campus in Pamplona, was organised by the Rei Jaume I Awards Foundation with the collaboration of the Valencian Association of Entrepreneurs (AVE) and the Association for the Development of Family Businesses in Navarra (ADEFAN).

The aim of this initiative is to bring the business world closer to science and research, whose contribution is essential for the growth and evolution of society. After presentations in Zaragoza, Madrid, Bilbao, Barcelona, Seville and Santiago, the Awards have been presented in Pamplona under the slogan “At the service of Science, Innovation and Entrepreneurship”. The deadline for submitting candidates for the different candidatures is open until 1 April and they can be submitted on the website:

Promoting the development of science, research and entrepreneurship to contribute to the growth and evolution of society is the main objective of the Rei Jaume I Awards Foundation, which every year, for 35 years, has been awarding prizes in different categories to researchers, scientists and entrepreneurs whose work has been carried out mainly in Spain.

Among the members of the jury that decides the winners are around twenty Nobel Prize winners, who meet every year for this purpose in Valencia. This year, the event will take place on 3 and 4 June. The prize consists of a financial award of 100,000 euros, with a commitment to reinvest part of it in research, together with a medal and diploma.

Caption 1. From left to right. Bottom row: Javier Quesada, executive president of the Rei Jaume I Awards Valencian Foundation; Francisco Javier Arregui, vice-rector of Research of the UPNA; Paloma Grau, vice-rector of Research of the University of Navarra; Vicente Boluda, president of the Rei Jaume I Awards Valencian Foundation; Mikel Irujo, Regional Minister for Industry, Ecological Transition and Digital Business of the Government of Navarre; Eduardo Saénz de Cabezón, science populariser, mathematician, lecturer at the University of La Rioja and presenter of the TVE programme Órbita Laika. From left to right. Top row: Benito Jiménez, president and CEO of Congelados de Navarra; Antonio Pineda, scientific director of CIMA University of Navarra; Yolanda Torres, vice-president of MTorres; Iñaki Ecay, president of ADEFAN; Inés Echeverría, director of R&D&I CNTA