In 2015 Aragon employed a total of 5,385 people, 3,208 of which in the public sector, focused on research & development (R&D) activities (Instituto Aragonés de Estadística – IAEST, 2017). R&D expenditure by sector in 2015 was made up of:
- Company and non-profit private institutions (PNPI): €160m (0.90% of the total Spanish expenditure by this sector);
- Public administration: €72m (0.22% of the total Spanish expenditure by this sector); and
- Higher education: €70m (0.021% of the total Spanish expenditure by this sector).
It must be noted that, due to the economic crisis, R&D expenditure in Aragon has decreased from at €374.24m in 2010 down to €300.80m, in 2014 (Eurostat, 2017). In this year, the share of regional GDP invested in R&D was at 0.92%, which stays below the national average (1.24%) and below the EU 28 average (2.04%). About 52.9% of the R&D expenditures have been assured by private companies in 2015, which is above the national average of 52.5%.
In 2012 the region of Aragon presented 232 patent applications (54.01 patent applications per million inhabitants) which is above the Spanish average of 27.357. Moreover, 605 companies with innovative activities have been registered in 2015, with expenditures in R&D of €322.794.
In Aragon there are three science and technology parks devoted to research and the establishment of specialist companies in the region. The Aula Dei Technology Park is specialised in green biotechnology, food and agriculture, and environmental research. It is surrounded by research institutes: the CSIC Experimental Station, the Mediterranean Agronomic Institute of Zaragoza, the Food and Agriculture Technology and Research Centre, the Seed Centre and Agricultural/Environmental Laboratory, and the Pyrenean Ecology Institute. More than 500 professional researchers work in this setting. Collaborations can be established with these institutes, and it is also possible for specialist companies to set up here. Huesca, in the north of Aragon, has a unique business park, the Walqa Technology Park, specialised in knowledge economy technologies. More than 500 workers are employed in this technological and research transfer environment. It is located at the foot of the Pyrenees, which provides that little extra attraction. Motorland Aragon, in Alcañiz, is a complex devoted to the automobile industry with a technology park for car-industry companies and high-speed circuits for technical testing. It is located close to a Formula 1 circuit designed by Hermann Tilke and several other high-speed circuits to make an unbeatable location for companies interested in developing new automotive products requiring in-situ testing.
The employment in the high-tech sector has been fluctuating over the years, being at 16,400 employees in 2016 (Eurostat, 2017). This represents 2.5% of the national employment in this sector and 3.0% of the total employment (against the EU 28 average of 4.0%). Additionally, 44.2% of the population aged 30-34 had tertiary education in Aragón, which is the highest since 2013 (Eurostat, 2017). This value not only stays above the EU 28 average (39.1%), but also above the Spanish average (40.1%).
Finally, 81.6% of the households have internet access at home, slightly below the national average of 81.9% (INE & IAEST, 2016).