The IAC was awarded with the Severo Ochoa Center of Excellence Accreditation in the first call of the Program in 2011.
It has renewed the accreditation in 2016 and 2020, being one of the six Spanish centers awarded with this distinction on three consecutive occasions.
The Severo Ochoa Center of Excellence Accreditation is awarded by the Government of Spain to recognize, reward and promote outstanding scientific research in Spanish centres and units with a high level of excellence in the international arena. The specific objectives of the Severo Ochoa programme are:
- Improve the capacity of high-level research centres to organize and carry out their investigations.
- Improve their ability to attract, recruit, train and retain talent
- Encourage their relationship with other reference centres
- Disseminate research results to the general public
Accreditation as a “Severo Ochoa Centre or Unit of Excellence” is valid for four years and includes a grant of one million Euros per year during this period. A limited number of Severo Ochoa centres or units of excellence are accredited each year. At the end of their four-year accreditation period they may apply again for accreditation. The evaluation and selection process is carried out independently by an international scientific committee composed of researchers of recognized prestige.
The Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias (IAC) was initially awarded with the "Severo Ochoa" distinction of excellence in the first call of this program, in 2011, and has renewed its accreditation in the second and third calls, in 2016 and 2020, respectively, being one of the six Spanish research centers that have obtained the distinction for three consecutive periods.
During the selection process, the international evaluation committee stressed that the IAC was a science and technology center, where scientists are not only involved in theoretical and observational research, but also lead the construction of advanced telescopes and instrumentation. The GTC 10.4m telescope, the largest optical telescope, developed under the auspices of the IAC, is the best example of this sinergy. The IAC also participates in the scientific exploitation and the development of instrumentation for European Southern Observatory (ESO) and for several space observatories and missions of the European Space Agency (ESA), and runs the Teide and Roque de los Muchachos observatories in the Canary Islands.
In this new four year period, the IAC will put emphasis on the development of its line of Astrophysical Instrumentation, and the lines of research in Solar Physics, Exploration of the diversity of Planetary System, Physics of Stars and the Interstellar Medium, the Milky Way and the Local Group, the Evolution of Galaxies, and High Energy Astrophysics and Cosmology. The award will also allow the implementation of a Human Resources Programme at international level, by incorporating into the IAC a dozen of postdoctoral researchers, several engineers and managers, complemented by some fifteen predoctoral students during the period 2020-2023.