13 billion pesos to restart domestic science engines

Physicist Juan Pablo Paz, the current Secretary of Scientific and Technological Expression, has an elusive challenge before him: to launch, before the end of the year, the 50 bids for equipment and infrastructure for the scientific system that will be reflected in “Equipar Ciencia” and “Build Science”, which have been awarded 5000 and 8000 million straight pesos.

It won’t be easy, but I am confident that we will be able to move forward Baz acknowledges. Holding programs and implementing them, and making sure that money is spent as it should, is not easy… We are setting up a structure in the ministry that will allow us to do it in a timely manner.”

The initiatives attempt to reverse the obsolescence of equipment that is many years old and favor the development of traditionally more disadvantaged areas. “Science Equip”will provide scientific system institutions with access to medium and large equipment. “building knowledge” It will allow them to create or adapt the necessary infrastructure for research and technological innovation, and it will try to reduce the asymmetries that exist historically between the center and the remote areas of the country.

Equip Science will try to renew old tools

“We are working on about sixty-four projects that have already been submitted by counties or national institutions,” Paz says. Among them, there are about twenty-one Conicet buildings. They are distributed in Misiones, Corrientes, Entre Ríos, Buenos Aires Province, Tucumán, Chaco, Salta, Jujuy, San Luis, Mendoza, Rio Negro, Chubut, Tierra del Fuego … fifteen or sixteen provinces. In addition, we have a very important line of what we call “inter-institutional centers”, which will bring together the activity of many people working on similar issues.”

Inter-institutional positions

Among those already planned, the focus will be on studying solutions for crops in arid regions. It is formed in San Juan by an agreement between the national university of that province, Conicet, the National Institute of Water and INTA. “We want to strengthen scientific and technological activities, but this to some extent accompanies the needs that exist in different regions of the country,” the official highlights.

In Mendoza, another project will be developed focusing on viticulture, water management and traceability of organic crops, which will add value to exports.

In Salta, a “window to the universe” will open around the astronomical complex being installed at an altitude of more than 4800 meters and whose main centers are the LLAMA Observatory, in Tolar Grande, and the Qubic Observatory in the area near Salta, San Antonio of the Coopers. “We will provide them with common-use infrastructure, electricity, telecommunications, and fiber optics,” Paz says. Half a block from the central plaza of Salta Capital, a beautiful flag dissemination center will be built to show all that is being done there.”

In Mar del Plata, a research center for marine studies is being established. It will be an iconic building in the style of ‘Zero + Infinity’ [en la Ciudad Universitaria de Buenos Aires] – Get excited. It is located next to the lighthouse that used to belong to the marina. Dedicated by the Department of Hydrography of that city’s university, it is set to house the Center for Research in Marine Sciences, the Conicet, the Scientific Research Commission of the Province of Buenos Aires, and the National Institute of Fisheries Research and Development (Inidep). It would be a great place.”

Another of these centers will be located in Ushuaia. “Its construction has just been signed and it will be ready for tender very soon,” says Baz. It brings together the National University of Tierra Fuego, the Antarctic Institute, Consit, the National Technological University and the municipality of Ushuaia. It will be an offshoot of the Antarctic Institute, focusing on studies relating to the South Atlantic and Antarctica. For the first time there will be a research center in these areas outside the city of Buenos Aires. There will also be a building dedicated to promoting scientific work.”

Oriented to nautical subjects, one will be created at Pico Truncado; And another, in Esquel, will be devoted to the problems of the Andean region of Patagonia. A long-term plan proposes building six “protection pillars” jointly by the science system and the National Park Service. They will be small science stations, about 400 or 500 square metres, located in Calelegua, Pre-Delta, El Empaintry, Cataratas, Nahuel Huapi and Perito Moreno. “Scientists will be able to go do observational missions and collect data, and they will have everything they need to survive for days with full connectivity,” Paz says.

Callegua National Park in Jujuy

common equipment

With regard to the renewal of instruments, No call has taken place since the 2014 Program of Equipment Modernization (PME) “At that time, orders were placed from various institutions of the science system for approximately $70 million – as specified -. “National Systems of Large Instruments” (magnetic resonators, modern microscopes and others with values ​​over $200,000). They are not portable and we encourage their participation. In other words, we support procurement from the ministry, but whoever receives them pledges to make them available to the rest of the scientific community in a fraction of the time. Will open The current call is permanent. Applications that arrive before the end of May will be evaluated during the month of June. We want to analyze the impact that each team will have, and above all respect the federal distribution, considering whether in a less developed region it stimulates the creation of new researchers, on example, or if they cover vacant areas. Currently, of the resources invested in science and technology, 85% of the budget goes to the city and province of Buenos Aires, Santa Fe and Cordoba. We are starting a long-term program, because unlike in the past, when most of the Funding the Ministry from international loans, from Islamic Development Bank credits, we have today the Science and Technology Financing Act. If this is achieved, the ministry has the opportunity to draw up a long-term policy for the construction of infrastructure and equipment. These 51 jobs that I’m betting we’ll be doing by the end of the year will be the beginning. Obviously they will not finish this year, but next year we will be able to start others and the next year we will be able to appoint other teams, because there will be money that must be allocated to scientific development by law.”

He concludes by saying: The most valuable thing in successful scientific systems is people. We have to focus on solving the country’s problems. But for that we need people who know how to solve problems, who know how to think, and who know how to deal with problems that do not have a clear solution. Even, in many cases, it’s not even about buying equipment, because sometimes, there’s no equipment, we have to invent it.”

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