UNIVERSITY UNVEILED EXPERIENCE IN SOCIAL INNOVATION

THE ISSUE WAS DISCUSSED IN A SEMINAR AT THE BICENTENNIAL SPACE OF THE TALCA CAMPUS, WITH WIDE PARTICIPATION FROM DIFFERENT SECTORS.



August 5, 2016

To show and analyze experiences so that the region can learn and define its own strategic directions in the field of social innovation was the purpose of the seminar organized by our University, the National Innovation Council for Development (CNID) and the Regional Government of the Maule Region.

"Social Innovation From The Regions: Supporting The Processes Of Decentralization And Labor Capabilities" was the name of this meeting which addressed topics as new ideas to help meet the needs of society and promote, at the same time, collaborative relationships.

The activity took place in the Auditorium of the Bicentennial Space and was headed by President Álvaro Rojas and the President of the CNID, Gonzalo Rivas, together with the participation of other authorities and executives from our Academic Institution and from government and private institutions, professors, officials and students.
The president valued the effort that is made from the Government to develop a strategy for social innovation. However, he stressed that it has been difficult to achieve a space of public funding for the generation of knowledge in this area, as it is the case of Competitiveness Innovation Fund (FIC), which has been strongly focused in the field of technology.

"It is important to ask how the regions are assuming the challenge of social innovation, because it will not come from Santiago: social innovation is strongly linked to a territory", he said, and added that the regional universities can contribute to the progress of these systems.

"In a perspective of decentralization and local capacities development, the search for solutions to social problems by means of social participation is the key to progress and development. Where there is less State presence – the Regions - social innovation is more important. "Not always does State have an impact on all the territories with its responses and, often, citizens have to seek answers to problems that affect them, due to the absence of the State", said the president.

He noted that the UTALCA, in its 35 years of existence, has innovated in the field of culture and the establishment of new undergraduate options. "We were the first University that created the programs of Bioinformatics, Mechatronics, Video Games and a series of study programs which today have important group of students and professors who are in an innovation frontier," he said.

Strategies

The president of the CNID stressed that the country can overcome its breaches of technological development and innovation through medium- and long-term strategies. "We think the key is to agree on some fundamental purposes, which must be agreed upon together with the broadest political spectrum. Innovation and the development of science and technology do not stand short four-year government mandates periods to be implemented; what it is needed is 8 or 10 years horizons," he said.

Rivas said that, prior to the seminar, he met with members of the Regional Council of the Maule Region to show them social innovation experiences in Antofagasta, and the work of the Commission on R&D+i for Resilience Against Natural Disasters, a national body promoted by the CNID, in order to generate knowledge to face natural events, applying social innovation, science and technology. "They are two complementary views: how greater creativity is generated from the base, and how do we impose ourselves a great national purpose that allow us to gather that creativity with a fundamental change for the country", said Rivas. And he assured that "the Universidad de Talca is a fundamental actor in the development of the Maule Region ".

Regional Deficiencies

One of the speakers, Pro-Rector Pablo Villalobos talked about social and economic aspects that require this type of innovation in a region that shows low levels compared to the rest of the country. "There are shortcomings. We can see that there is a region and an ecosystem, but two visions of development: the social area which has a more public connotation, where the sense has to do with the quality of life, well-being, and where there is participation at the local level. On the other hand, there is a line that touches an economic area led by the private sector, with a level of greater competitiveness and, therefore, also with a higher approach towards innovation processes ", he said.

Villalobos spoke about how the Universidad de Talca contributes to face the challenges of the Region. He also talked about institutional experiences of social innovation, such as Undergraduates Social Responsibility, the Maule Costa Hub and young professionals programs.

He also stressed the Skills Based Training Model and the Fundamental Training program implemented in undergraduate programs.

Other interventions were made by Juan Carlos de la Llera, Dean of the Department of Engineering of the PUC, an expert in structural modeling and vibrations and risks reducing systems, and Pamela Chávez, academic from the Universidad de Antofagasta and manager of Aguamarina S.A. Also spoke Juan Pablo Ilanes, Executive Director of the Fundación Minera Escondida, and culinary entrepreneur from Antofagasta, Pablo Godoy.

The Vice President for Innovation and Technology Transfer, Gonzalo Herrera, said that "social innovation is a topic that had not been conceptualized in this way before; it had been incorporated, however, into the practices of the Universidad de Talca through various programs".



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