THE Balearic government has awarded 1'800 grants totalling 16.8 million euros to finance innovative projects over the past four years. This was revealed yesterday by Pere Sampol, the minister of finance, commerce and industry, and Enric Tortosa, the director general of Innovation, at the presentation of a seminar on economy and innovation which opens at the Flassaders cultural centre tomorrow. The seminar is a prelude to the first congress on economy on the Balearics, which has already attracted more than 500 delegates, Sampol announced. Tortosa said that 50 to 60 per cent of the American economy was directly bound to innovation, adding that a one per cent increase in the efforts to innovate have a repercussion of 0.15 in productivity. Sampol underlined the efforts in innovation made by the Balearic government and local companies during this legislature, pointing to the setting up of an innovation and energy ministry, the approval of the First Innovation Plan for the Balearics, and scholarships in Balearic training colleges. The minister went on to say that details of new grants for innovative projects would be announced shortly, providing 2.4 million euros in aid. He added that the leading sectors in innovation were footwear and computers, going on to say that no sectors had turned their back on innovation and that companies were taking the importance of quality and innovation seriously. Finally, he said that the threat of war was very negative for commerce, and especially for tourism, although he called on the sector to go for quality to offer new products and compete with the new Mediterranean markets through the cultural heritage and respect for the environment.