In an intense day, almost 20 company representatives came to the centers, laboratories and pilot plants of the University of Concepción to see in situ the progress of new knowledge and how it is linked to the economic development of the region. “Spectacular things are being done here in Chile,” said Holger Paulmann, president of the Circle.

Several activities were part of the agenda followed by the representatives of ICARE’s Innovation Circle during their visit to the Universidad de Concepción. The activity was also attended by local entrepreneurs, and together they were able to learn details of the University’s capabilities in the development of new technologies.

“ICARE’s visit allows us to show the existing capabilities and results in innovation and entrepreneurship based on science and technology generated at the University,” said the Vice Rector for Research and Development, Dr. Andrea Rodriguez Tastets. “Clearly, it is an opportunity to get out of local circles and establish greater connection with organizations at the national level that promote development from the private sector. The University is being increasingly recognized, not only in its training role, but for its ability to bring the knowledge generated to society, and ICARE’s interest in coming is a sign of this.”

The president of the ICARE Innovation Circle, Holger Paulmann, highlighted that “we proposed the idea of being able to go a little more to the regions and learn what was being done in terms of innovation outside Santiago. This is the second trip this year; the first was to the Atacama region, where we went to Antofagasta and visited Soquimich plants and the ALMA Observatory”.

Meanwhile, Marcela Angulo González, director of the Santiago Unit, explained that the University is part of ICARE and one of the objectives of entering the Innovation Circle was for the business world to get to know UdeC’s capabilities. “We want to show, above all, this vocation towards transfer, to generate impact on society, to collaborate with industry. So I have been inviting them to come to Biobío for some time, and finally it happened”.

The delegation was made up of about 20 people and headed by Holger Paulmann, president of the ICARE Innovation Circle and Sky Airlines. He was joined by Sandra Guazzotti, Head of Google Cloud for Latin America; Hernán Acuña, Innovation Hub manager of ENEL; Leonardo Ljubetic, corporate manager of Development and Management of COPEC; Pamela Gidi, Telecommunications Consultant and former Undersecretary of Telecommunications; Hernán Conejeros, Technical Manager Southern Cone of 3M; Matías Soffia, innovation director of NTT Data Chile; Marina Tannebaum, founder EasyBots; Federico Morello, leading partner of Business Consulting and Advisory, PwC Chile; Diego Olivares, innovation manager of Aguas Andinas; Oscar Clark, managing partner BeeBetter and digital technology consultant; Matías Jory, Digital Transformation Manager of CMPC. IRADE was represented by its director Loreto Ormeño. 

Knowledge that transforms

The UdeC has recently stood out for the results of its technologies, the fruit of years of research in areas of interest to different productive sectors, and which seek to respond to multiple challenges. One example is the capabilities developed by the Technological Development Unit (UDT) in bioeconomy and circular economy. Among them is the new insulation based on eucalyptus bark licensed to the company AISLACOR in alliance with Forestal Collicura, and winner of the last CORMA Wood Week. The business delegation was also able to learn about the development of new resins with the company REBISA, new products derived from lignin with CMPC, alternative fuels within the framework of the ‘Vuelo Limpio’ alliance and the mask recycling project, executed with Softys, Pescadores Industriales del Biobío and other companies.

“In Biobío, we are getting to know projects in which the Universidad de Concepción is involved and also some other organizations that are doing innovation from the regions. It has been very entertaining to see innovation related to productive processes, new product developments and innovation from the point of view of technology,” said Paulmann.

The activities included an observation of the rare earth extraction process, carried out in San Pedro de la Paz by the company Aclara, a project that uses the circular mineral harvesting method. This methodology, developed jointly by the University of Concepción and the University of Toronto (Canada), seeks to obtain and process these elements in a clean and environmentally responsible manner.

For the president of the Innovation Circle, the visit was inspiring. “It makes us see the glass half full, realize that spectacular things are being done here in Chile and that we are also innovating strongly and that as a country we are not dedicated to copying things, but that we are already at the forefront of technology in various industries. It is very motivating to see this”, he emphasized. 

Collaboration for the country’s development

The visit continued at the University’s central campus, visiting the disruptive technology that could replace traditional smelters at the Zero Emissions, Zero Slag Copper Technology Pilot Plant. The team, led by Dr. Igor Wilkomirsky and Dr. Roberto Parra, from the Faculty of Engineering, received recognition from the Avonni 2023 Awards in the Mining and Metallurgy category in early November.

During a working lunch at the Vice Rector’s Office for Research and Development, the attendees learned about examples of UdeC’s capabilities and trajectory in applied research, innovation, transfer and science-based entrepreneurship, as well as the innovation initiatives implemented in the context of the alliance with CMPC.

“I think there will be many opportunities for new projects after what they have seen today,” said Marcela Angulo. “In particular, they have learned in depth about the results of the alliance with CMPC and the amount of things that can be done in a longer-term collaboration,” she said.

The Head of Google Cloud for Latin America, Sandra Guazzotti, stressed that, to achieve these objectives, both the University, generating and imparting knowledge, and the company are needed. “We at ICARE promote, from ICARE, to be better companies to make a better country. Therefore, it seems to me that the approach taken by the University, that it is not publications or patents, that there is no incompatibility between the two, that they actually complement each other, I thought that was phenomenal, it is a great enabler.”

Sandra Guazzotti highlighted other elements that make the way in which the UdeC approaches the industrial world of the area unique. “To say look, in this partnership with the companies at the beginning we don’t know very well how to work together, and the same thing happens to the company with the universities. That humility is necessary to move forward together. We have to go one step at a time, getting to know each other on the field,” he remarked.

In the afternoon, they visited the Center for Industries 4.0, Faculty of Engineering, where the team led by Dr. Pablo Aqueveque presented new technologies and extension and digitalization programs for metalworking and woodworking SMEs.

Finally, at the Faculty of Physical and Mathematical Sciences, they visited the laboratories of the Millennium Institute of Optics, MIRO, directed by Dr. Aldo Delgado. This research group gave rise to the quantum technology start-up SeQure Quantum, led by Dr. Gustavo Lima, who has just signed an alliance with Thales, a French technology company specializing in data protection.

“I am dazzled with what I saw,” Guazzotti assured. “I leave very inspired so that we do much more from ICARE, in helping to make these cases visible and that these are really examples that other companies, other organizations look at, and that allow us to continue promoting innovation in the country as a great driver of the growth that we all want for Chile.”

Source: UdeC News