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"We need responsible and critical young people, not just highly trained experts", Nobel Laureate Chemist Richard R. Ernst tells IBERDROLA audience

  • Professor at Swiss Federal Technological Institute where he conducts research in nuclear magnetic resonance
  • In lecture on “Innovation and Responsibility: Towards a Prosperous Future”, at IBERDROLA’s Madrid headquarters, during the presentation of the company’s 2006 Innovation Report
  • IBERDROLA spent 56 million euros on research, development and innovation last year, and has budgeted another 200 million for the 2007-2009 period

“For our interdependent global society to function properly, we need young people with a critical outlook and responsibility. To be a highly-trained expert is an indispensable but not a sufficient condition”, said Professor Richard R. Ernst, 1991 Nobel Laureate in chemistry, in his lecture entitled “Innovation and Responsibility: Towards a Prosperous Future”, at IBERDROLA’s headquarters in Madrid.

Ernst, a professor at the Swiss Federal Technological Institute, (ETH), recognised for his research in the field of nuclear magnetic resonance, added that “it is vital for them to acquire broad knowledge of the relations, interconnections and dependencies of our society. The term ‘value’ is not confined to the monetary realm; on the contrary, true values are those that are found in ethical considerations”.

According to the Nobel prize winner, whose lecture was delivered prior to the official presentation of IBERDROLA’s first annual report on innovation 2006, “the best way to exert influence on social development is to train a new generation of innovating scientists and engineers, of responsible leaders who are prepared to meet their obligations better than we have done in the past”.

Ernst also stressed the fundamental role of the university in scientific progress, calling it “indispensable to our well-being today and tomorrow. Where else but at universities will new paths be found for future global development? Teachers and their students have an open road before them and the obligation to conceive new ideas that others have never even imagined”.

Fernando Becker, IBERDROLA’s Corporate Resources Manager, informed the audience of more than 100 guests of the company’s most noteworthy initiatives last year in innovation.

Innovation, a Strategic Objective

Aware of the important energy challenges society is facing –shrinking supplies and growing demand— the company views innovation as a strategic variable, and in 2006 it spent 56 million euros on 131 research, development and innovation projects in five different areas, 35 of which were launched last year.

IBERDROLA has set as a strategic objective the consolidation of its leadership in innovation in the power industry in coming years, focusing particularly on the promotion of renewable energy and emerging technologies, for which the company has budgeted 200 million euros for the 2007-2009 period.

Last May IBERDROLA unveiled its “Innovation Network”, intended to operate as a forum for all the group’s technological units and partners, including manufacturers, universities, technology centres, and associations.


Born in Winterthur, Switzerland, in 1933, Richard R. Ernst graduated in chemistry in 1957 from the Swiss Federal Technological Institute (ETH), where he earned his doctorate in physical chemistry in 1962 and is now a professor.

Throughout his career, the focus of his research, for which he was awarded the 1991 Nobel Prize for chemistry, has been the development of nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy for analysing molecular structures.

For more information about Richard R. Ernst, see



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