August 3, 2017
Discovery Park partnership bolsters innovation ecosystem in Peru
For Peru’s southern region of Arequipa, the diverse terrain, ecology and rich mineral reserves present enormous opportunity for prosperity and growth, but also pose significant challenges to its regional development. Environmental degradation is straining the region’s resources and limiting the potential for sustainable use and development of its abundant water and soil.
Sustainable development and use of Arequipa’s, or any nation’s, land and water resources requires an understanding of the complex environmental, social and economic drivers that must be harnessed to maintain the availability of future food, water and energy resources, with minimal negative effects.
Last month, representatives from Discovery Park and Purdue University visited the Universidad Nacional de San Agustin (UNSA) in Arequipa to discuss how they could collaboratively tackle the biggest land, water, food, infrastructure and technological challenges facing Peru and Latin America today. Over the course of the visit, the delegation of 10 Purdue faculty and administrators exchanged information, experiences and expertise with UNSA leadership, faculty and students to conduct a needs assessment, which will serve as the foundation for a collaborative institutional partnership between Purdue and UNSA.
Tomás Díaz de la Rubia, Discovery Park’s executive director and chief scientist, who led the delegation, says, “There is great enthusiasm on the part of the Purdue team in helping UNSA become a point of reference in Latin America for research at the nexus of water, food, and the environment. The developing relationship with UNSA will also help create the first technology commercialization park in the region. Our joint goal is to ensure long-lasting positive impact on our communities across all socio-economic levels.”
Discovery Park and UNSA signed a memorandum of understanding on May 4. Purdue will provide guidance, expertise and collaboration in the development of both the UNSA Technology Park and an interdisciplinary institute, the Nexus Institute, which will focus on the interplay among four intersecting strategic themes: water management, environment, agriculture and mining. The Nexus Institute will enable the prosperous and sustainable use of Arequipa’s water, soil, plant and animal resources through the construction of state-of-the-art instrumentation monitoring and experimentation stations, the use of simulation modeling and collaboration with Purdue researchers.
The rector of UNSA, Rohel Sánchez, said of the new partnership, “The operation of the UNSA Technology Park and Nexus Institute, under the guidance of the Purdue scientists, will allow the generation of science, technology and innovation, which will contribute to the economic and social development of Arequipa, Peru and Latin America.”
In addition to this, the intent of this collaborative partnership is to build the research and educational capacity of UNSA through the creation of an English language program, to foster better collaboration on international projects and the establishment of a curriculum assessment and development program, in order to share best practices of teaching and learning in higher education.
Other aspects of the partnership goals plan to include a semester-long immersion of UNSA staff into the Purdue Innovation and Entrepreneurial Ecosystem, which will provide training in key areas. The Purdue Foundry, Office of Technology Commercialization and Purdue Research Foundation also will provide support through the FireStarter program to assist with the development of UNSA’s commercialization assets, to ensure that ideas and technologies developed within the new ecosystem can grow in Arequipa, bringing jobs and innovation to the Peruvian economy and beyond.