4.2.1. Scientific specialisation

In comparison with the EU-28, the Basque Country is notable for its larger share of publications in the physical sciences and in engineering and technology, and smaller share in life sciences and in health, pre-med and medicine

The InCites database makes it possible to analyse publications on the Web of Science (WoS) by scientific domain. Table 20 allows us to see that while the two domains that accounted for the largest number of publications in the EU-28 for the 2015–2018 period are life sciences; and health, pre-med and medicine (with approximately 25% of all publications in each one), in the Basque Country, the two domains with the highest volume of publications are physical sciences; and engineering and technology (with 26% and 23%, respectively).

Table 20. WoS publications by scientific domain (2015–2018)
Table 20. WoS publications by scientific domain (2015–2018)
Source: InCites. Compiled by authors.
NB: The specialisation index of each territory compares the share of publications in each domain with the European average.

The Basque Country has considerable rates of specialisation compared to the EU28 in physical sciences (147) and engineering and technology, whereas it has an underspecialisation in all other domains. In fact, the comparable Spanish regions have precisely the opposite specialisation profile to the Basque Country: they are specialised in health, pre-med and medicine and in life sciences, and underspecialised in engineering and technology and in the physical sciences.

Scientific specialisation in the Basque Country seems to be aligned with the production system and the priority sectors identified in the RIS3

In general, the scientific specialisation profile of the Basque Country appears to be quite in keeping with the main strategic priorities of its RIS3. For priorities such as advanced manufacturing and energy, engineering and technology and physical sciences capabilities are more significant than life sciences and health, premed and medicine. The same cannot be said of the other strategic priorities, biosciences/health (or even the food opportunity niche). But the latter are supported by a much less developed economic reality than advanced manufacturing and energy. What is more, in terms of trends, we can detect a decrease in underspecialisation. As regards to the underspecialisation in social sciences, to the extent that this domain has a strong relationship with non-technological innovation and it is in this type of innovation where the Basque Country lags behind the EU-28 most obviously, it seems clear that this sphere should be the focus of greater stimulus and prioritisation by Basque science policies.

  1. A publication can be classified in more than one scientific domain if its subject encompasses more than one field.