Extremadura lags behind the Spanish national economy in terms of economic development: in 2016, the regional GDP per capita was a third lower than the national average and 63% of the EU-28.

R&D investment in Extremadura is low, representing 0.8% of total Spanish GERD in 2016 and with Extremadura ranking 14th out of Spain’s 17 regions. Research and development activities rely heavily on the public sector for both funding and implementation. Significant academic and research institutions in the R&I ecosystem include the University of Extremadura (UEx), the UNED (Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia), alongside public research bodies such as the Regional Research and Technology Centre -Centro de Investigaciones Científicas y Tecnológicas de Extremadura- CICYTEX, the Health Service of Extremadura (SES) and other private technology centres.

Whilst the regional government is fully responsible for the smart specialisation strategy as well as research and innovation policy, the responsibility for ESIF lies at national level. The Foundation FUNDECYT-Parque Científico y Tecnológico de Extremadura manages the RIS3. Which has five vertical areas of sectoral specialisation (Áreas de Excelencia):
  1. Agro-food
  2. Clean energies
  3. Tourism
  4. Health
  5. ICT.

There are two main horizontal priorities (Grandes prioridades): Sustainable use of natural resources and Technologies to improve the quality of life, and four horizontal specialisation areas (Ámbitos de actuación):
  1. Culture of innovation and entrepreneurship,
  2. Specialised talent to mobilize the identified challenges and specialisation areas,
  3. Business structure to ensure competitiveness, and
  4. Infrastructures to develop the region.