Science column: and investment in r & d when?

Science column: and investment in r & d when?

Ad portas 2019 budget to enter a discussion, is right to wonder how much will be invested in innovation and development, eternal relegated. With a new Ministry which should start to operate, it is time to think seriously about changing priorities.

That a greater investment in research and development (r & d) is the most certain way for the development of the country, is a consensus for a good while now, but have been unable to take the necessary political decisions.

It is easy to understand why there is consensus. If we look at what other countries have done, the evidence is unmistakable:investment in r & d in Chile reaches just 0.4% of GDP, while in OECD countries this value averages 2.4%, with Israel and Korea surpassing the 4.2%. We have the lower investment relative to GDP across the OECD. Moreover, if we look at only the Latin America, overcome us Brazil (1.3%), Argentina and Costa Rica (0.6%), and Mexico (0.5%), while we drew with Ecuador and Puerto Rico (0.4%).

Other interesting quantitative look is to compare the situation of Chile with developed countries when they had a GDP similar to our study which was made to New Zealand, Denmark, Canada and Australia. The study showed that this Quartet surpassed Chile by a wide margin (up to 7 times) in various indexes: patents on technology, human resources in r & d and scientific and technical publications.

These cold numbers by themselves explain why there is such a consensus, while the persistent question of why they do not invest more naked.One must assume that there are justified reasons in the political world to not adopt a change in attitude, but it is clear that all reveal a priority by other investment decisions, independent of what are they privilege short-term and the absence innovation in politics.

An outside observer would see clearly the priorities of Chile to see that you maintaining a low and stable level of r & d investment. This policy seems to reveal a frightened, conservative society with low self-esteem, because spending on security and does not in the creation of new opportunities, repeats its values for decades avoiding the natural risk of researching and developing technology new and own.
It is my conviction - which I understand is shared by many researchers and technicians, thatThis attitude dooms us to a perpetual dependency and underdevelopment.

There are several reasons for worrying especially today about the situation described. First, because the discussion begins of the first law on the budget of the current Government and is, in this Act and in the parliamentary discussion that followed, where he is verified if our priorities are beginning to change or we will insist on keep postponing development. Secondly, because Chile made a significant economic investment in training of doctoral scholarships Chile program, funding studies in the best--and often the most expensive universities in the world and it is time that the society get the results expected from this effort, but this is as will wiped out if there is no adequate financing to accommodate them. Third, and it is the most strategic point, is not the same investing today than tomorrow, since a technological revolution is being developed.

Been much of that is to come a great technological change that will transform the entire society, but the truth is that we we must be blind to not realize that this revolution already arrived.The essential point is that when there is a revolution like this, very important opportunities to expand the economy, which can not take advantage of those countries that are not creative or innovate timely risk arise.

That there is a risk in investing in r & d no doubt, but those risks are double reading. They are precisely what make us act conservatively, because we do not have large surpluses in resources, but they themselves are also those that generate the great opportunity that vanishes when the risk is reduced.

We already start a change of priorities and, assuming an attitude more like a leader than a subordinate,Let us later in priority investment in r & d, to reach 1% of GDP as a first goal,. It is a sensible goal that would reflect the attitude of a society that has confidence.