Purdue seeks to accelerate Latin American innovations through Networks of Excellence

August 31, 2015  

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Suresh Garimella, Purdue University's executive vice president for research and partnerships, will be the keynote speaker to kick off the Cities for Life Global Meeting taking place in Medellín, Colombia, on Monday and Tuesday (Aug. 31 and Sept. 1). 

In connection with the meeting, he will publicly release a “Concept Paper on Networks of Excellence for Research and Education.” The document outlines an approach for development of research and education ecosystems to support innovation by bringing together multi-country, multi-sector participants from government, business and universities to accelerate innovation. The proposed networks can accelerate and facilitate collaborations and foster public/private partnerships among U.S. and Latin American institutions on innovative solutions to regional grand challenges, including education, energy, health, urban systems, sustainable agriculture and climate change.

The concept developed out of a workshop on the University of the Future held at Purdue. University President Mitch Daniels led the workshop, which included rectors and board members from six top universities in Colombia, executive directors of non-governmental organizations, government representatives from the United States and Colombia, Purdue faculty, and university administrators. Key topics included transformative education, collaborative networks of excellence for research, education and innovation, and innovation ecosystems. 

Anne Slaughter Andrew, former U.S. Ambassador to Costa Rica, spoke at the workshop and is a co-author of the concept paper.

“Networks of Excellence will accelerate Latin American universities' participation in the global ecosystem of innovation and will provide resource-rich platforms for fostering university leadership and partnership with the community and with the governments," she said. "In addition, such networks will create leap-frog opportunities that are essential for more robust and sustainable economies across Latin America."

Paper co-author Garimella said, “In Colombia and across Latin America, we have had the privilege of partnering with many universities, companies, and government ministries and non-governmental organizations. Many institutions are committed to transforming research and education systems to serve the 21st century needs of the region, including development of knowledge-based economies. We developed the Networks of Excellence concept in order to accelerate progress toward robust and sustainable new programs in research and education. These networks can foster public-private partnerships, leverage resources and address issues of critical regional and global importance."

Developing and strengthening global partnerships with universities, companies and government agencies to foster transformations in society is an essential part of how Purdue defines its role in achieving its land-grant mission. Purdue’s unique partnership initiatives with Latin America include the formation of the Colombia-Purdue Institute; a partnership with the Instituto Technológico de Costa Rica; and the Latin American Technical, Research and Administrative Leaders (LATeRAL) program. Last year Purdue established a permanent office in Medellín, which is hosted by Ruta N, Medellín’s Center for Business and Innovation.

“There are clear synergies between the Networks of Excellence concept and Colombian programs such as the Innovacampus initiative, including a focus on merging research, education and corporate engagement," said Juan Camilo Quintero, RutaN's executive director. "Purdue University has developed deep and unique partnerships in Colombia, and we look forward to opportunities to work collaboratively with Purdue and other partners on programs in these areas.” 

Writer: Pamela Burroff-Murr 765-496-3381, burroff@purdue.edu

Source: Suresh Garimella, 765-494-6209, sureshg@purdue.edu

Related information:

Complete workshop report and “Concept Paper on Networks of Excellence for Research and Education” are available in English and Spanish at http://docs.lib.purdue.edu/gpridocs

Purdue, Colombia advance broad-based partnerships: http://www.purdue.edu/newsroom/purduetoday/releases/2014/Q1/purdue,-colombia-advance-broad-based-partnerships.html

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