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Unique Science and Technology Infrastructures (ICTS)

The term Unique Scientific and Technical Infrastructures (ICTS) refers to facilities, resources or services necessary for the development of cutting-edge research of the highest quality, as well as for knowledge transmission, exchange and preservation, technology transfer and innovation promotion. They are unique or exceptional in their kind, with very high investment, maintenance and operating costs, and whose importance and strategic nature justifies their availability to the entire R&D&I community. ICTS have three fundamental characteristics: they are publicly owned infrastructures, they are unique and they are open to competitive access. 

The ICTS are distributed throughout the national territory and are included in what is called the "Map of Unique Scientific and Technical Infrastructures (ICTS)". 

Socio-economic Sciences and Humanities

The infrastructures of this thematic area focus on the scientific areas of prehistory, human palaeontology and archaeology. The development of scientific and technological infrastructures in these disciplines is seen as key to bridging the gap between the world of the humanities and enhancing their interaction for mutual benefit. 

Health Sciences and Biotechnology

This thematic area has significantly increased its representation in the current ICTS Map. Under the concept of distributed ICTS, networks of infrastructures have been established in the fields of imaging, nanotechnology and omic sciences.  The high biological safety laboratories have also been reinforced and the number of such facilities offering their services has increased. 

Marine, Life and Earth Sciences

The ICTS included in this area of knowledge are those necessary for facilitating scientist access to natural environments that present unique research characteristics. They all focus mainly on promoting sustainable management of the natural environment. 

Energy

The availability of sustainable and economically competitive energy sources is a key factor for the progress and development of any country, which is why it is essential to have infrastructures that facilitate scientific and technological progress in this field. Thus, the current ICTS Map includes infrastructures that research and offer their facilities in the field of solar energy and fusion energy. 

Engineering

The thematic area of engineering is represented in the ICTS Map in the field of hydraulic and maritime engineering.  Scientific and technological activity in the marine environment is of great interest to Spain. Having this type of infrastructure has made it possible to carry out cutting-edge research in this field previously carried out abroad, thus boosting the competitiveness of our R&D&I system. 

Materials

Materials Science can be regarded as having the ultimate aim of researching, synthesising and developing new substances according to desired properties for specific purposes and applications in any kind of field (engineering, computing, biotechnology, etc.). This requires instrumentation that will enable us to get ever closer to the basic structure of matter. To that end, the ICTS Map includes infrastructures offering state-of-the-art facilities in electron microscopy, synchrotron light, micro/nano manufacturing, ultrashort, ultra-intense lasers, and complex particle accelerators. 

Information and Communications Technologies

Information and communication technologies are essential for the advancement of science in all areas of knowledge.  Distributed throughout Spain, RedIRIS and the Spanish Supercomputing Network (RES) are the leading exponents in this area, offering the scientific community a large computing capacity with better and more secure communications. 

Astronomy and Astrophysics

Astronomy is a unique discipline in Spanish science, which has undergone exponential development in recent decades, acquiring a prominent position at international level. The Astronomy Infrastructure Network (AIN) coordinates the national observation infrastructures recognised as ICTS with two main areas represented: radio astronomy, and optical and infrared astronomy. Furthermore, in the field of astrophysics, the Canfranc Underground Laboratory has strengthened its strategic position in this discipline. 

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