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Venezuela is to embark on a national science programme to develop innovative research that contributes to economic growth and development.

The country's president, Hugo Chavez, announced on 14 December that US$50 million of government funding would be made available to start the programme in February 2006.

A further US$100 million will follow from revenues generated by the government's sale of oil.

Chavez said the programme will fund scientific projects that will drive economic growth and technological independence. Scientists are also being encouraged to focus their research in areas that will benefit society.

The president invited Venezuela's top researchers and innovators to help design and plan the programme.

Chavez made the announcement during Venezuela's 2005 National Science and Technology Awards.

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