The Institut de Radio Astronomie Millimétrique (IRAM) was founded in 1979 and is operated as a French-German-Spanish collaboration. Its partner institutions are the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) in France, the Max Planck Gesellschaft (MPG) in Germany and the Instituto Geográfico Nacional (IGN) in Spain. The IGN participates with a 6% of investment and operation expenses and, in return, IGN gets a 16% observing time on each IRAM telescopes and a prioritised participation in Administrative and Technical Committees. The observing time must be obtained by international competition open to any eligible Spanish astronomer.
The observatories are supported by the IRAM offices and laboratories in Granada and Grenoble.
Apart from the Plateau de Bure interferometer (France), IRAM operates one observatory at Pico Veleta. This one is located in Sierra Nevada (Granada, Spain), 2850 m high. This observatory houses a single dish radio telescope of 30 m in diameter. It allows taking radio continuous and bolometric measurements, microwave spectrometry and Very Long Baseline Interferometry (VLBI).