The Institute of Space Studies of Catalonia (IEEC) was founded in February of 1996 as an initiative of the Fundació Catalana per a la Recerca (FCR), in collaboration with the University of Barcelona (UB), the Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB), the Polytechnic University of Catalonia (UPC) and the Spanish Research Council (CSIC) with the objective of creating a multi-disciplinary and multi-institutional institute devoted to space research and their applications. In 2006 the FCR was reformed (currently its name is Fundació Catalana per a la Recerca i la innovació -FCRi) and its role was assumed by the Department of the Catalan Government responsible of scientific affairs.
From the administrative point of view, the IEEC is a private, non—profit foundation. The reason why this administrative form was adopted was to dispose a versatile tool able to deal with the private industries and companies that finally are responsible of the construction of the systems and subsystems that eventually will fly.
The agreements between the IEEC (a private institution) and the scientific institutions participating in the creation and governance of the institute (all of them public) allow the exchange of personnel and funds. To properly separate the private and public affairs, each one of these institutions created a scientific unit according their own bylaws in such a way that scientists can simultaneously act as member of their institutions or as a members of the IEEC.