Chile's Sweet Deal for British Research Pound-Stretchers

Article excerpt

Minister lauds cost-effective UK and seeks partners for research centre. Elizabeth Gibney writes.

The Chilean government is offering up to $10 million (Pounds 6.5 million) in a bid to encourage UK researchers to found an institute in the country.

Chile has opened four applied research centres in the past year in collaboration with overseas partners and now wants to involve the UK, said Harald Beyer, Chile's minister for education.

"We are beginning to look for UK institutes. In total we want to bring in around four or five more," he told Times Higher Education.

Under the aegis of the Production Development Corporation (Corfo), centres are founded by foreign universities or research organisations, but receive between $4 million and $10 million in subsidies from the Chilean government.

The existing centres are in applied mathematics (in partnership with France's National Institute for Research in Computer Science and Control); systems biology (with Germany's Fraunhofer Society); food research (with the Netherlands' Wageningen University and Research centre); and mining and metals (with Australia's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation).

Tomas Muller Sproat, the Chilean ambassador to the UK, listed marine and fishing research as potential areas for collaboration. "We've started looking. It's all up for grabs, but we have to identify a UK (proposal) that's better than any other."

Mr Muller said the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre with Boeing, a collaboration between the University of Sheffield and aerospace giants Boeing and other partners including Rolls-Royce, was "spectacular" and an example of what Chile hoped to achieve.

"We want to bring institutes doing this kind of applied research to Chile," said Dr Beyer. …