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  • Argentina unveils plan to boost science investment

[BARILOCHE] Argentina's government has launched a research and development (R&D) strategy that could result in R&D investment rising from 0.65 to 1.65 per cent of GDP (gross domestic product) by 2020.

The document, 'Innovative Argentina 2020', was presented by the president, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, and the minister of science, technology and productive innovation, Lino Barañao, earlier this month (12 March).

It includes plans and projections for R&D in six strategic sectors: energy, industry, health, agribusiness, social development, and environment and sustainable development.

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  • Strategy scenario sets out R&D spending boost from 0.65 to 1.65 per cent of GDP by 2020
  • New funds aim to encourage private investment
  • Plan to decentralise investment could be a challenge, says expert

To increase R&D spending to 1.65 per cent of GDP, private sector investment will have to be boosted from 26 to 50 per cent, according to the plan.

To facilitate this, the Ministry of Science, Technology and Productive Innovation has created several funding instruments to finance public-private projects. One is the Argentinean Sectorial Fund, which aims to finance projects designed to use knowledge for social and economic benefit.

Other projections show that it may be possible, by 2020, to increase the number of researchers in the country, from almost three to five per 1,000 economically active adults.

Ruth Ladenheim, secretary of planning and policies at the ministry, tells SciDev.Net that the National Scientific and Technical Research Council (CONICET) "will create 720 new positions for science and technology researchers, and 3,900 new fellowships for graduate students and postdoctoral researchers will be made available".

Argentina's former medium-term plan on science, technology and innovation ended in 2010. At that time, the ministry
started work on the new plan, including holding roundtable discussions with 300 researchers in 2011.

Carlos Abeledo, director of postgraduate studies on science policy at the University of Buenos Aires and former CONICET president, says: "The new plan advances on the previous one by not only saying what things should be done but also saying how these things can be achieved".

He adds that it is interesting that the new plan promotes the decentralisation of public and private investment, which has traditionally gone to the biggest cities. "However, it is a huge challenge because it implies creating favourable conditions to develop human resources and infrastructure in distant regions," he adds.

Karen Hallberg, a professor at the Balseiro Institute and a CONICET researcher at the Bariloche Atomic Centre in Patagonia, says that the scientific community generally backs the plan.

"This plan improves policies implemented so far and it projects an increase in the human resources, science and technology budget," she says.

However, Hallberg says the links between the scientific and technology sectors, the government and industry need to be improved to ensure maximum impact and ensure smooth progress in less-developed regions.

Link to the plan's website (in Spanish)

Watch a video on the plan (in Spanish):