On Sept. 17, UC Davis announced that it would be partnering with the Chilean government in a joint effort to develop the UC Davis Life Sciences Innovation Center in Chile. Researchers from Chile and UC Davis hope that their collaborative efforts and public sector research will be conducive to creating regional, national and international business opportunities.
In a press release, the university stated that the goals behind the creation of the Innovation Center are to increase economic competitiveness, research and development in both Chile and California, with a focus on the agricultural industry.
Research and development will cover agricultural topics such as plant breeding and climate change technology. Both the Chilean and Californian economies rely much on agriculture and food production, as agriculture is the second largest industry in Chile and California is the fifth largest supplier of food for the global community. UC Davis also has a top-ranked agricultural program that has consistently proven to be reputable and internationally respected.
“We expect to have active research projects in viticulture and enology, plant pathology, genomics and climate change initiated quickly,” said Alan Bennett, a professor in the Plant Sciences Department at UC Davis.
The project would help establish more commercial products that were developed out of research discoveries and allow the relationship between Chile and California to continue to grow since the launch of the Chile-California Program in 1963. This program has sought to enhance collaboration between Chile and California in areas such as agriculture, education, water resource management and highway transportation.
According to Bennett, a main goal of the UC Davis Life Sciences Innovation Center is to “effectively transfer research results, knowledge and intellectual property to support local and global innovation.”
Bennett said he thinks the project will strengthen the historical ties between Chile and California as well as serve as an “international hub between UC Davis [and] Latin America.”
“This will serve as a platform to bring new research projects to UC Davis that will engage faculty and students,” Bennett said. “Importantly, it will also strengthen the international perspective to research and [lend to] a broader understanding of problems and issues that other countries face. The initial focus of the center will be in agriculture, where there are many similarities between Chile and California but also important differences.”
Creators of the innovation center are working with a 12-million-dollar budget for the first three years of the project. The Chilean government will fund $6 million of that budget through a grant from the Corporación de Fomento de la Producción de Chile (CORFO), the country’s economic development agency. The other $6 million would be obtained through industry and university partner cost-sharing, $1.5 million of which would come from UC Davis.
According to Bennett, the next step in funding the project is to establish the UC Davis Life Sciences Innovation Center as a nonprofit in Chile owned by the University of California. The center will then be scheduled to begin operation in Chile by January 1, 2015.
“This new Innovation Center will also help support and advance UC Davis’ goals to promote economic opportunities for California and throughout the world,” said Linda P.B. Katehi, chancellor of UC Davis. “It furthers the work of our excellent agricultural programs and also follows the goals and mission of the UC Global Food Initiative to develop, demonstrate and export solutions — throughout California, the U.S. and the world — for food security, health and sustainability.”