Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile (UC): Science 2030 UC will bring together successful stories of innovation and entrepreneurship

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From Tika products to the development of vaccines during the pandemic, they will be part of the virtual meeting organized by this ANID-supported initiative, which brings together five UC faculties to strengthen the connection between science and society by intervening from the undergraduate university.

It all started with a dream, literally. Carolina Echenique dreamed of colored chips falling from the sky, and that was the starting point for one of the most successful innovations of recent years in Chile: Tika snacks. For a year she worked on this idea and even set up a laboratory in the garage of her house, where she began to experiment with native tubers such as Chiloé potatoes, sweet potatoes and other ingredients, to create multi-colored homemade chips.

The story of this undertaking that managed to carve out a place for itself in a niche dominated by giants -reaching 8% of the snack market-, will be one of those that we will learn about on August 24 from 6:30 p.m. in “La ruta de la science”, virtual conversation organized by Ciencia 2030 UC to publicize the work carried out at the university for a greater connection between science and society, increase female participation in science and promote the creation of science-technology-based companies in the country.

The figures indicate that spending on R&D in the country is still insufficient, companies only finance 23.2% of innovation, while only 7.5% of professionals with a doctorate degree work in private companies. Isabel Reveco, coordinator of the initiative supported by CORFO and ANID and in which five UC faculties participate , points out that “the investment in R&D that is made in Chile is 0.34% of GDP (year 2019), the average of the OECD is seven times higher. To promote this connection between science and the environment, the Science 2030 program has been created, of which we as UC are a part”, she points out.

The virtual conversation organized by Ciencia 2030 UC will present the work being done at the university to better connect science with society, increase female participation in science, and promote the creation of scientific-technological companies in the country.

One of the keys to moving in this direction is to have public policies that promote innovation based on scientific research and development, allowing small countries like ours to diversify and sophisticate their productive matrix and move towards an economy based on the development of knowledge. Claudio Maggi, CORFO Strategic Affairs Manager, will be one of the exhibitors who will comment on the importance of initiatives that promote these aspects on August 24.

At the meeting we will also learn details of the work carried out during the pandemic at the Catholic University. Dr. Susan Bueno, academic from the Faculty of Biological Sciences and scientific director of the CoronaVac vaccine in Chile , will tell us about the important work carried out during the pandemic to have a vaccine against the coronavirus, a virtuous circle in which the academia, private enterprise, and the state.

Another aspect of the work on innovation will be presented by Carolina Echenique, former student of the UC Faculty of Agronomy and Forest Engineering and creator of Tika , who will tell us about her story of science-technological entrepreneurship: snacks made with 100% natural ingredients, from native tubers never before used in the food industry, they have more than five thousand points of sale throughout Chile, and are exported to more than fifteen countries around the world.

The meeting will feature the participation of Patricia Muñoz, Deputy Director of Networks, Strategy and Knowledge of ANID, as well as the Vice-Rector for Research Pedro Bouchon and the Academic Vice-Rector Fernando Purcell. Also participating as panelists will be Deans Max Bañados (Faculty of Physics); Juan Correa (Faculty of Biological Sciences); Rodrigo Figueroa (Faculty of Agronomy and Forestry Engineering) Mario Ponce (Faculty of Mathematics) and Alejandro Toro (Faculty of Chemistry and Pharmacy).

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