Sofía Valenzuela is the new authority on the theme of the Greater Southern Region that ranges from O’Higgins to District Eight.
“In Chile, what goes into scientific research is 0.37% of GDP. We are the country that invests at least at the OECD level.” This is how Sofía Valenzuela, the new Seremi of science, technology, knowledge and innovation in the Great South Central, which runs between O’Higgins and Ñuble, forms at the beginning of the interview with El Tipografo.
The Ministry of Science was born in 2019 and with it the first Seremis. It’s a governing body, very small. In the regions, there are five seremias distributed in large regions. After the appointments of the new government, there was a first stage of stabilization and work is now being done on decentralization, first creating business rules in the regions, like this seremía, which operates in Concepción.
– Ceremy, with this degree of investment in scientific research not a country is far ahead in this matter?
A large part of the research was carried out in Valparaíso, Concepción, and Antofagasta, and decentralization from Santiago to these places is not enough. Now we need decentralization from the provincial capitals to other regions and finally to the communes, to the people who make up our country, and access above all children and adolescents.”
– But I repeat with those budgets not much has been done …
The first goal is to reach 1% of GDP. We hope to gradually increase it until it reaches 1% over 8 years. Today, research has a second source of resources, CORFO. Sul’s contribution grants research firms a tax incentive act; This feature is used by a few companies to their full potential. Thirdly, when the private sector invests in scientific matters, here in Chile it has not yet happened, but we hope that it will be, and the fourth way is for the professionals themselves to create science and technology-based companies for the country with the support of CORFO.
-This is a complicated matter because our “scientific minds” hardly go to study abroad and we lose them… and if they come back, there is no way…
Yes, some have returned. Development and incentives are still lacking.
– Let’s talk about what is being done with the existing resources. Specifically in our region in the agricultural field and about the problem of drought…
-In Rancagua we have INIA, CEAP (Centre for Studies of Processed Food), University of O’Higgins that are working to have crops, especially fruit trees, able to grow in drought conditions and also with international cooperation. In Chile, genetic improvement programs are being implemented to develop Chilean cultivars.
– Is Siriya seeking to encourage science among school children?
When we talk about science we want to expand the concept; It is not only mathematics, chemistry and biology, but also social sciences: literature, history, etc. That is why we are now talking about science and knowledge. On the other hand, work is being done on gender equality, on the one hand, in engineering which has a special quota for women, and the same can be applied in other fields such as physics and astronomy to increase the number of women in the field of science.
Back to the incentive point…
Yes, but we also invite the private sector to invest in research and development. Either by hiring professionals or by daring to do research and hire staff with PhDs, for example, because the fact that it would be so expensive is a myth, because doctors aren’t taught to be millionaires. Another way is through CORFO, the creation of scientific and technological companies to develop in the country.
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