On Wednesday, December 9, 2020, an online conference perfectly replaced the personal meeting of transferors and scientists from the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic and the National Council for Scientific and Technical Research CONICET in Argentina. We welcomed, among others, his Excellency Ambassador Robert Alejandro Salafio from the Argentine Embassy in Prague and the economic diplomat Mgr. Radek Hovorka from the Czech Embassy in Buenos Aires. Representatives of the ministries of both countries were also present.
During the two-and-a-half-hour connection at a distance of 11,805 km, almost 70 participants listened to information about the knowledge transfer system and learned about opportunities for research cooperation on topics that are close to both countries. Official language was English and all presentations were also translated into Spanish. The conference was moderated by Mariana E. Miguez Murillo from the CONICET transfer office, and on the Czech side by Tereza Vizinová from CeTTAV.
CONICET covers over 330 institutions
In the first half of the meeting, the Argentine research company CONICET, which covers over 330 research institutions across the country, introduced itself. More than 26,000 scientists are involved in research in all areas of science. It can thus respond very effectively to the needs of individual regions. Research activities are divided into three practical areas:
- engineering, energy and the environment;
- technologies for sustainable development;
- health, agro-industry and biotechnology.
Y-TEC, the most important research and development organization dedicated to research in the field of technologies applied in energy, was introduced by Gabriel Martínez Niell and Gerardo Bobrovsky. They recalled, inter alia, that Y-TEC research programs focus on addressing strategic issues such as renewable energy and sustainable industrial development.
The first part of the conference ended with a speech by Vera Alvaréz. Her presentation focused on sustainable agriculture and the role of women in science.
The second part of the conference focused more on the opportunities offered by the AV21 Strategy programs. How the Strategy works was presented by prof. Michal Haindl. The individual selected programs, which in many respects intersect with the interests of CONICET, were presented by their coordinators: the program Efficient Energy Conversion and Storage was presented by Ing. Jiří Plešek, video presentation for the program “Quality of life in health and disease” prepared by doc. Jakub Otáhal. A very interesting presentation on the “Food for the Future” program was contributed by prof. Jaroslav Doležel.
There was less space for discussion, but some questions were answered immediately, and for some more complex ones we promised to stay in touch and resolve them later.
Knowledge transfer system
The transfer structure in CONICET is very similar to ours. The legal department was introduced in more detail, including the types of contracts and interactions they negotiate. We also learned how a group of professionals who manage intellectual property work. Annually, they participate in the creation of:
- up to 80 Invention (Invention disclosure Form);
- more than 60 national patent applications, 10 to 20 PCT applications and 10 to 25 national phase solutions;
- the active patent portfolio consists of approximately 900 patents (approximately 400 patent families).
Within the CONICET group, there are 16 transfer offices across the country. María José Harosly spoke about how they work and what problems they face. With offices across the country, TTO is an effective connection between scientific research and business. The three main tasks of the Argentine TTO are:
- dissemination of scientific results in small and medium-sized enterprises;
- professional consultancy in the field of intellectual property;
- management of transfer processes with respect to the legal framework of the country.
Cooperation and interconnection
Argentine colleagues were interested in the possibility of participating in our programs as partners. They are very interested in plant genetic research for adaptation to climate change. They wanted to know if the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic could be their partner in Horizon Europe projects. We will certainly also exchange a lot of information in connection with the support and creation of academic spin-off companies.
Overall, participants rated the meeting more than positively. We have reassured each other several times that we must continue the cooperation we have begun. As soon as the situation allows, we plan a personal meeting. We have a lot in common and the details can be very useful for both parties.
It’s great that current technologies make it possible to meet and talk to people on the other side of the globe, and that Covid’s inspiration can be shared despite.