A conference event has been held to discuss widely the relationships between research, technology and innovation.
The NBIC and Industries 4.0 Converging Technologies group has dedicated its time working on the National Government’s proposals for a new CONPES document on Science, Technology and Innovation Policy 2021-2030. On this front, a document was prepared commenting on and proposing adjustments to the CONPES draft.
The document was sent on behalf of AvanCiencia and the Colombian Academy of Exact, Physical and Natural Sciences, both to MinCiencias and to Planeación Nacional so that they could be considered in the design, writing and discussion of this proposal. The document clearly set out concerns about the objectives, approach, financing, and strategies proposed.
Professionalization of doctoral students
Concern about how to put into practice the proposals for the transformation of the Science, Technology and Innovation System, has led the group to discuss issues such as:
- the new structures within the STI system;
- present and future financing issues;
- the need to configure research and technological development centers in the field of NBIC Converging Technologies and 4.0 Industries;
- the conditions for doing research in the country;
- the role of doctoral students as workers in the STI System or as students.
On this last aspect, the discussion has led to propose the need for the doctoral student to be recognized in Colombia as a professional who decides research as his personal purpose and not simply as a study to obtain one more degree, the need to professionalize research, starting from the doctorate, is seen as a pressing need to ensure that it is possible to put into practice the proposals for transformation and growth of the STI System in the country.
An event to broaden the discussion
These discussions, and while waiting for the official documents produced by the members of the Mission on the focus of Convergent Technologies and Industries 4.0 to be released, motivated the proposal and development of an event to discuss the aspects addressed within the group.
With the support of all the members of the group, an event called “Converging Technologies NBIC and Industry 4.0, as a result of the Mission of Wise Men and Women and its possibilities in the framework of the new national policy of Science, Technology and Innovation” was organized, it took place Saturday, November 28th, from 9:00 a.m. to 12 m., Its main objective was to socialize the discussions of the Mission of Wise Men and Women related to convergent technologies and 4.0 industries, at the same time as, to submit to discussion the ways in which science, technology and innovation policy will allow scenarios for the development of strategies associated with NBIC technologies and 4.0 industries. The event was broadcast on Youtube and is available for viewing.
This activity was carried out in three parts.
The initial one had the welcome words by Dr. Enrique Forero as president of the Academy of Exact, Physical and Natural Sciences
The second, with three conferences, in which were presented both the framework of STI policies, and the possibilities of new technologies in the scientific, technological and economic development of the country. In that block, the speakers were:
- Dr. Diego Hernández, Vice-Minister of Knowledge, Innovation and Productivity of Colombia, who spoke about the opportunities that the new STI policy brings for converging technologies and 4.0 industries;
- Dr. Daniel Duque, Research and Development Manager of Cementos Argos presented the industry’s vision of bio and nanotechnologies and NBIC convergence. With a significant number of examples he showed the great advances that are being made in this field, motivated by the Colombian business sector;
- Dr. María del Pilar Noriega, coordinator of the Converging Technologies and Industries 4.0 focus of the Mission of Wise Men and Women 2019, who told about the main proposals of the focus from the Mission and helped clarify the difference between emerging technologies and converging technologies and their link with the 4.0 industries, as well as their future perspectives.
A rich panel
The last part was a panel, which included the participation of the three speakers of the second part of the event, accompanied by:
- Dr. María Piedad Villaveces, Executive Director of AvanCiencia;
- Dr. Eduardo Posada, Director of the International Center of Physics, Member of the Mission of Wise Men and Women and Academic;
- Dr. Ivan Dario Agudelo, Senator of the Republic, proponent of the majority of initiatives on STI that have been taken to Congress in recent years;
- Dr. Enrique Forero, President of the Colombian Academy of Exact, Physical and Natural Sciences.
- The panel moderator was Dr. Oscar Herrera, Academic Vice-Chancellor of the Central University and initiator of the Research Cluster on Converging Sciences and Technologies NBIC.
The panel discussed aspects such as the way in which STI policy can avoid that the resources available for research and development go only to the consumption of technologies, a common issue in our country, but that do not generate added value or to the processes of scientific or technological advancement and neither to improve the productivity and competitiveness of the country, this due to the impact of emerging technologies as a more commercial route, which can be confused within the need to advance in the 4.0 industries, leaving aside the real potential that for the country implies the NBIC convergence.
Taking advantage of convergent technologies
It was also discussed about the main gaps that Columbia must cover so that in the coming years as a country it can take advantage of the opportunity that convergent technologies offer and the ways in which it can anticipate what is predicted to be a rapid evolution towards the fifth industrial revolution, in which bio-nano articulation will play a more prominent role.
Other aspects that were addressed had to do with, the need to articulate the Sustainable Development Goals with converging technologies and industries 4. 0, the need to generate new infrastructure, as well as, when knowing the current infrastructure, recover it and generate work in networks of centers, institutes and universities, the need to professionalize the work of doctoral students and research in the country, as some Latin American countries have already done and it is becoming evident, through this way, its improvement in productivity, the need to focus and concentrate the resources for science and technology in strategic fields for the country.
Many changes needed
In order to make Science and Technology viral and to make them owned by the society in general, a strategy was proposed. The need to return to strategies in the creation of technology-based companies, venture capital funds and scenarios financed for business incubation was raised. The need to generate changes in education was pointed out, recognizing the differences in the regions and the organization due to support needs, as well as the need to articulate the needs of the industry with the needs, expectations and possibilities that academia has. It was also raised the need to transform the current regulation that is “paralyzing” because it does not allow the advance of research and development due to all the restrictions on importation of inputs and on the other hand also prevents improving productivity and competitiveness, as it prevents the export of products derived from national developments.
Better links between academia and business
Some conclusions that can be drawn from the event, have to do with the fact that converging technologies nano, bio, info, cogno are transversal to various scientific and technological processes, ranging from the necessary advances in health, to energy issues, through environmental issues, among others, as noted by the members of the Mission of Wise Men and Women. The country must strengthen basic research and technological development around Convergent NBIC sciences and technologies.
A clear need has been identified to “expand the order of magnitude”, that is, that as a country and in an articulated way, it is possible to think big about the opportunities that are presented for Colombia at this time, but that requires an understanding of both public and private actors, and for this purpose the need for articulation between MinSciences, MinTIC, Superintendencia de Industria y Comercio, among others has been pointed out, in the same direction, efforts should be maintained for the articulation between academia and business, the links of professionals trained in research, doctors, for example, should have space in the productive sector, while universities and research centers appropriate the problems of the productive sector.
A cultural change
On the other hand, the discussion put on the table again the need to bring to young people a cultural change regarding the use and appropriation of science and technology, which takes us out of the technological consumerism, and that transforms the look into the generation of value for people and for the economic development of the country.
Some of the gaps that must be filled in order to take advantage of this opportunity that Colombia has were raised, among them, those that can energize the productive sector, with the clarity of a necessary investment in research, technological development and innovation, to have a clearer and more stable regulatory framework, to take advantage of the current market dynamics to generate new products and services, To achieve the retention of trained and experienced human talent, improve and prioritize funding, advance in innovation processes supported by research and technological development in the medium and long term, not only supported by technology transfer, which generates short-term innovations, with less added value over time, the improvement of infrastructure and generate environmental and ecosystem services.
Overcome an inferiority complex
The need to take advantage of advances in biotechnology to improve agricultural and food development was also raised. However, the great conclusion regarding the gaps that Colombia must cover from all angles “is fear, it is the inferiority complex” that both the private sector and the government and citizens in general must overcome as a society and in the business and government culture, otherwise it will never be possible to allocate the investments in basic science and technological development that will allow to take advantage of the opportunities provided by the NBIC Convergence and industry 4.0.
Actions for 2021
Some of the proposed aspects that the group hopes to work on in the coming year are:
A comprehensive event on NBIC Converging Technologies and Industries 4.0.
The analysis of the books that are recently being released from the Mission of Wise Men and Women.
To participate in the discussions and implementation of necessary elements of STI policies that promote the making and development of the opportunities that Convergent technologies open for the country.
This series of posts is about the “Mission of wise men and women” follow up that has been made by working groups convened by the Colombian Academy of Exact, Physical and Natural Sciences. More information can be found (in Spanish) on the Academy website.