Vice President Flavio Salazar: "we need more resources to maintain the national leadership in research and fulfill our role as leader in innovation"

Vice President Flavio Salazar: "we need more resources to maintain the national leadership in research and fulfill our role as leader in innovation"

After the postponement in the processing of the Ministry of science and technology in Congress, the Vice President for research and development emphasizes the role of the House of Bello as a reference institution in the production of knowledge, in addition to the efforts institutional to mitigate the effects of the lack of resources for scientific research, whose purpose is to impact society as a whole.

"In our country the science has been circumscribed historically to the Academy and a small group of agencies that finance it, so often derived in an elitist, economistic view and with little linkage between knowledge and development model for Chile. During the past two years there has been an intense debate on the shortcomings and needs of the sector, to move towards the creation of the Ministry of science and technology which is today still pending in Congress. It is very important that we continue putting in mat lack of investment at national level and the low social value given to science, delaying our development as a country", says the Vice President of research and development, Flavio Salazar.

Currently,almost 95 per cent of the research conducted at the u. de Chile depends on funds from outside of CONICYT, CORFO, the Millennium Science initiative and other agencies.From mid-2014 the vine has been consolidated as an organism key in the field internal and external, channeling the institutional efforts to improve financing intramuro instruments; strengthen innovation policies; foster the transdisciplinary academic work; promote partnerships with government institutions and the private sector; and install a strategic process of internationalization of research.

With more than a thousand projects annually, 18 centres of excellence as lead institution and 4 associate, as well as the high award of projects in Fondecyt, Fondef, Fonis and Innova Corfo, the Casa de Bello leads national scientific research in multiple areas of interest for the country. This is also evident in 11.447 scientific articles ISI-WOS, coded by CONICYT between 2007 and 2016, that position it as a reference in Latin America. Thus confirm it the main international rankings of universities, such as the Shanghai ARWU and Scimago scientific productivity index. In both, the institution moved more than 100 places in recent years, remaining as the leading University in the country and among the top 10 Latin American.

Also, the contribution of the vine to an institutional cultural change on issues of innovation, has allowedtransfer 59 technologies to society, creating 19 spinoff, and increase revenues by licensing more than 344 million pesos. In the past year, the u. of Chile protected 15 new technologies, being presented 33 patent applications in different countries. Meanwhile, the project of internationalization UCH-1566, started in 2016, has strengthened institutional capacities to deepen strategic collaborative networks, encouraging the mobility of those who conduct research and from different countries, funding initiatives inter-faculty and co-organizing academic forums with universities in Japan, France and Sweden.

Vice-Rector Salazar added that "in 2017 was balancing the operation of all units of the vine to promote and consolidate axes oriented from the rectory. We are looking for impact beyond the scientific productivity, incorporating the concept of relevance with force. In this way, has been generated awareness of the need to encourage networks transdiciplinarias impacting public policy and install mechanisms to transfer innovations and services that benefit the public. However, stagnation of resources inhabiting the external funds in the country has affected us dramatically, because nowadays are displaced many quality projects, given the strong increase in applicants and increased competition among universities".

Faced with the need to promote a new institutionality and increase funding for national science, the VID has constantly participated in discussions with the Presidential Commission science for development of Chile, the Commission Challenges of the Future of the Senate and has also agreed on visions in the CRUCH and the CUECH, to define tools that allow generating concrete actions on the issue.

"Given the situation regarding the competitive external funds, it is a priority for our University to make an additional budgetary effort in the coming years, which allows us some independence and autonomy in the orientation of lines of national and global interest. We must focus on a much closer relationship with the citizenry; with local problems; with other regional universities; and with an international vision directed towards Latin America. We need greater resources to promote institutional projects and thus fulfill the role we have set ourselves as a public university, without trying to replace the external financing system, but to complement it," emphasizes Professor Salazar.

As part of the 2018 challenges, the VID will seek to obtain budgetary sustainability to cover the basic expenses of institutional innovation and develop it in the long term, without relying exclusively on transitional external financing as is currently the case. It is also expected that the transdisciplinary networks promoted in recent years will continue to consolidate and articulate with other public institutions to transform them into Multidisciplinary Research Centers. This type of structures, together with the technological centers and cultural spaces, will be those that in the medium and long term are part of the institutional project Laguna Carén Academic Park.

Challenges and news for 2018

The Vice President recognizes that there are still gaps that cover in the coming years. "We need to tackle centrally demands new structures for the subjects of ethics, care of animals and biosecurity standards; strengthen avenues of coordination with the authorities of the academic units to reach more groups of research; help mitigate the inequalities in the development of science and the arts in different faculties; and promote a spare and smart academic plant capacity. In addition, we must give special emphasis to the development of the humanities and artistic creation through new instruments and criteria of evaluation according to its particularities".

Regarding the internal financing instruments, Dr. Salazar details that "a series of internal regulations have been established to distribute research funds with transparency, objectivity and emphasizing the needs of the University. Based on the efforts of modernization and professionalization of management, carried out in the last 4 years, we increased internal funds to enhance those most successful lines and also open new opportunities to the academic community".

Between 2014 and 2018, the VID managed to increase by 438 million pesos per year the budget allocated to internal calls for scientific research -about 50 percent-, which will allow financing a greater number of projects this year. Through nine contests, seeks to increase the competitiveness of those who carry out research for access to external competitive grants; implement strategies to strengthen internationalization; generate networks; support infrastructure for investigative activities; stimulate productivity in social sciences and Humanities; encourage the production and dissemination of artistic creation; help international stays of short or long duration; sponsor events scientific, artistic, and innovation; (e) Insert to young researchers.

Among the instruments that present novelties for this 2018 is the U-Redes de Generación Contest, which will double the maximum amount of application for each project; U-Consolidation Networks, which for the first time will be launched two consecutive years; Infrastructure Support, which will allocate almost 200 million pesos to support the improvement of laboratories and research spaces in the institution; and Travel Aid, which will double its annual budget.

Finally, Vice-Rector Salazar concludes that "despite this important effort, these resources are still insufficient, so our goal is to qualitatively and strategically increase the central funds allocated to research over the coming years, which reaffirms the constant commitment of the Rectory and the VID to excellence in research, innovation and artistic creation".

Calls for tenders are now availableU-Generation Incentive Networks 2018;U-Consolidation Networks 2018;Travel Aid 2018; andSupport for Research Infrastructure.