Chile puts science centre stage

Presidential commission recommends new ministry to push technological development

August 2, 2015
ALMA (Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array) project radio telescope antennas
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Long-range vision: report calls for a new Ministry of Science and Technology

The Chilean government is studying in depth the idea of creating a Ministry of Science and Technology.

A recently published report calls for the establishment of the new ministry to ensure that science and innovation take a more central role in the development and cultural life of the South American country.

The report, A Shared Dream for the Future of Chile, was authored by the Presidential Commission on Science for Chile’s Development, a group established in January.

It outlines five strategic focuses for the country leading up to 2030, and calls for science, technology and innovation to become “pillars of development” for Chile. These areas should be integrated into cultural, social and economic life, it adds.

“Permanent human capacity” and multidisciplinary teams in science should be developed, as should an environment conducive to scientific culture and knowledge assessment, says the report, published in July.

It adds that Chile’s “institutional architecture” should be updated and strengthened to include science, innovation and technology, and that these fields should guide national priorities and help develop the country’s production economy.

Michelle Bachelet, president of Chile, said that the report would not sit on a shelf or desk. “Our goal in creating this Commission has been to generate a working tool that allows [us] to have a framework and specific steps forward in the short and medium term," she said on 26 July.

“We want to fulfil our commitment to create the Ministry of Science and Technology. [Creating] a ministry is hard work, even when you have the resources.”

“So we will study in great detail the alternatives proposed in this report to make the right decisions for science and research in Chile,” she added.

She said that the goal was to strengthen research in Chile and provide an institution that is “on the one hand effective [and] on the other hand agile”.

Ms Bachelet added that the report’s strategy was “solid” and “very applicable”, but that any transformation will require a “shared commitment” and “broad participation” from many different parts of society.

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