By El Mercurio
Of the total 13 centers that have already signed agreements with Corfo, 8 are already operational. Four shall begin to operate within the next two months. The remaining center shall begin its operations in 2016.
Recently there was a meeting between the thirteen R&D International Centers of Excellence that exist in our country, with the purpose of debating their role in the development of Chile’s innovation system. In said meeting, Corfo’s executive vice president, Eduardo Bitran, directly and clearly requested each one of them to commit to the country’s productive challenges, the development of advanced human capital and the generation of open and interoperable platforms.
The authority had solid arguments to set forth the critical path, considering the considerable amounts that are being invested in the project. In total, the public-private contributions amount to nearly US$ 400 million. The first four centers that begun operating received US$ 12.8 million each, corresponding to 50% of the total investment. The remainder is contributed by each of the centers. The 9 remaining centers will receive contributions of US$ 8 million each, representing a third of the total investment.
The first ones that were established were Fraunhofer (Germany) related to technology; Wageningen (Netherlands), in the area of processed foods; Csiro (Australia), in mining and Inria (France), in mathematical modeling for information technology matters.
The foregoing are joined by corporate centers: Pfizer (Untied States), focused in precision medicine; GDF SUEZ - Laborelec (France/Belgium), in solar energy and energy efficiency matters; Telefónica (Spain), in TIC y Smart Cities development, and Emerson (United States), in mining.
The institutional centers are currently in process of being established: UC Davis (United States), in agricultural and food industry; LEITAT (Spain), sustainability and renewable energies; UQ-SMI (Australia), in mining and Fraunhofer Energy (Germany), in matters related to solar energy.
As regards the work of the centers, the executive vice-president of Corfo, Eduardo Bitrán, expects that said centers be able to transfer, bring practices, plans and generate links between the corporate world and academia, and thus promote joint projects in which the international center will contribute its experience on how to approach the productive world, work with the public sphere and make the investigative efforts more pertinent, multidisciplinary and applied. "A second objective deals with the solving of problems in the productive world. In this sense, a key issue here is developing advanced human capital abilities for the country".
Regarding governmental support, the executive director of the R+D Center of Telefónica, Hernán Orellana, emphasizes: "This is a program which seeks to assist in solving the problem of private investments in R+D not being enough so as to allow Chile to achieve OECD standards as regards investments".
Of the first chosen centers, the Fraunhofer center has currently achieved more progress, especially regarding the hiring of specialized Chilean staff and in the creation of scientific articles. However, the progress is also present regarding the transfer of technology, such as licenses and patents. The other three centers of the first call will be evaluated at the end of this year, since such is the date when the term for carrying out the first evaluation expires.