The Rei Jaume I Awards, which this year celebrate their thirty-fifth edition, have honored research on climate change, neural connections or organic chemistry, in addition to the professional career of Alfonso Jiménez Rodríguez-Vila, president of the Cascajares food company.
The prize in the Basic Research category has gone to Antonio Echevarren Pablos for his contributions to organic chemistry, especially catalysis to produce medicines and other materials; the one for Medical Research went to Guillermina López Bendito, for her studies on the processes of neural connections, and the one for Economics went to Olympia Bover Hidiroglu, for her studies on the labor, housing and household markets.
In the environmental protection category, Carlota Escutia Dotti received an award for her studies on changing environmental conditions in the Antarctic mantle and its impact on the global climate system; and the New Technologies prize went to Daniel Maspoch Comamala, for his research on the advancement of nanotechnology and the chemistry of porous reticular materials.
The decision of the jury, made up of nearly a hundred people, including twenty-one Nobel Prize winners (four of whom do so for the first time), was read this Tuesday by the executive president of the Rei Jaume I Awards, Javier Quesada , in a ceremony held at the Palau de la Generalitat and chaired by the acting president, Ximo Puig.
A total of 222 nominations had been submitted to the awards, 53 of them women (24%). These are the prizes with the best economic endowment in the country, 100,000 euros for each of the categories, with the commitment to reinvest a part in research and entrepreneurship in Spain.
The Acting President of the Generalitat, Ximo Puig, has highlighted these awards as a "lighthouse" that inspires Valencian society, an international reference that projects an itinerary towards the search for new scientific and technological frontiers, based on Humanism, the protection of the Environment, "without irresponsible denials", and the promotion of the entrepreneurial spirit, "faithful to the Mediterranean DNA". "Let's continue working for science and for consciousness", he has claimed.
Puig has also highlighted that, 35 years later, the seed of "illusion" planted by the scientist Santiago Grisolía with the impulse of these awards "has germinated, has become stronger and has improved our society" and has done so by doing what exalts a scientist: "Insist, persist and never – ever – give up."
He has ensured that Valencian society "has consolidated a path from which it cannot deviate again" and has warned that "we have seen it in another time: the shortcuts to prosperity lead to the precipice".
For his part, the vice president of the Jaume I Awards Foundation, businessman Vicente Boluda, stressed that this year's winners will be six new ambassadors and "icons to imitate", who "from now on" work for society as a whole.
Boluda thanked the acting President of the Generalitat, Ximo Puig, for his "enormous support and consideration" towards these awards out of personal conviction, which has contributed to his prestige and the connection between research, science and business.
"We are all aware that electoral support opens a new stage and we hope that those who take the reins integrate science, research and entrepreneurship into their strategy," said Boluda, who has once again called for a "great social pact" for science.