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Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft

Fraunhofer in Chile

The Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft, Europe’s largest applied research organization, is setting up its first research center in South America. On October 22, 2010, the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft and the Chilean Ministry of Economic Affairs sign a bilateral agreement giving the go-ahead for an extensive cooperation.

Professor Alfred Gossner, the CFO of the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft, announced "The new Fraunhofer Center for Systems Biotechnology in Chile will create links and bring forth innovations for new markets: links between Germany and Chile, between scientific disciplines, between pure research and the demands of private enterprises." Dr. Gossner signed the bilateral agreement with Juan Andrés Fontaine, the Chilean minister for commercial affairs, in the presence of the Chilean President Dr. Sebastián Piñera and Chancellor Dr. Angela Merkel in Berlin today. The agreement acknowledges the extensive preparation work on both sides, and clears the way for the new research center to be established in Santiago de Chile.

The Fraunhofer Center for Systems Biotechnology is funded by INNOVAChile, which was created by the governmental economic promotional society CORFO to attract world-class international research institutes to Chile for joint research and development partnerships. Several organizations have been evaluated, but Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft is the first and so far the only one to receive a funding commitment from the Chilean Government. Partners on the Chilean side are: the two iconic universities Pontificia Universidad Católica de Valparaíso (PUCV) and Universidad de Talca, and the private non-profit organization Fundación Chile. The German partner is the Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology IME, headed by Professor Rainer Fischer. The foundation of the Center was actively supported by the German-Chilean Chamber of Industry and Commerce.

The Fraunhofer Center for Systems Biotechnology is the first research center to be launched by the Fraunhofer Chile Research Foundation established on October 4, 2010, and it will work closely with Chilean research organizations and private enterprises. The research carried out at the new Center will benefit from and make a long-lasting contribution to Chile’s pioneering spirit and economic strength, reflecting the country’s faith in a traditional economy based upon raw materials, agriculture, aquaculture and the sustainable use of natural resources. Systems biotechnology is an emerging field in life sciences that aims to develop an understanding of the complex and dynamic processes in cells, organisms and even ecosystems at the systems level. This is achieved by creating computer models and mathematical simulations, which are then applied to problems in biotechnology using a combination of large-scale laboratory experiments and computational biology.

German and Chilean researchers will combine their strengths to develop and optimize a wide range of technologies that will be used to develop rapid tests for fish diseases and more effective fish vaccines (partnership with Fundación Chile), to develop new nanotechnology solutions to remove pesticide residues from beverages and purify waste water (partnership with Universidad de Talca) and to improve the performance of enzymes and increase the efficiency of biomass utilization in the energy industry (partnership with PUCV).