Interview

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Interview with Vicente Caruz - President of Eurochile Foundation.

The Eurochile Business Foundation was jointly established by the Chilean state and the European Union in 1993. It was created by Chilean law which, apart from defining its fields of action, gave it certain permanent benefits.

Its objective is to promote and strengthen economic and industrial cooperation and technology transfer between the European Union and Chile. Its main method of work is through lines and projects to increase the capacity of management, innovation, staff training, production and marketing of national companies. All of this has a primary focus on promoting SMEs on order to enhance its competitiveness, productivity, and internationalization.

You are dedicated to promoting economic, trade and technological cooperation between the private sector and institutions in Chile and the European Union. What have been so far your greatest achievements and challenges?

Throughout its 24 years of experience, Eurochile has benefited more than 35,000 SMEs (24,142 Chilean/12,543 EU) through projects financed both by the EU and national entities. Eurochile’s achievements include: Participation of 3,743 Chilean SMEs in 216 business/ technology rounds; 24,142 SMEs benefited from 251 capacity building projects; 320 European experts brought to Chile; 4,320 SMEs benefited from 96 projects with European experts to support productive improvements; and 247 technology transfer initiatives. Eurochile has the technical capacity to carry out these activities and it offers a wide network of contacts through its projects, agreements, EEN network, and training sessions.

Eurochile has a large network of collaboration agreements with entities such as ministries, universities, technology centres, business organisations, etc., both in Chile and in Europe. This allows us to liaise with experts to contribute with technical training, identify success stories, best practices with regards to services and technologies developed, etc.

It should be noted that Eurochile has a professional staff that is multi-lingual and therefore can easily translate the relevant information from the official working languages of the EU into Spanish to ensure greater dissemination and support. In addition, we are pleased to announce that at the beginning of next year a Eurochile business centre will be inaugurated next door to our offices that aims to offer office spaces and business services to SMEs and European start-ups (including Chileans with EU ties).

What is the current state of the Chilean EO industry?

There is still a lot of room to grow in Chile in particular with regards to the use of EO that goes beyond the “usual suspects” (government authorities) and should be expanded more to the private sector and SMEs.

In Chile, due to its clear skies in certain regions (extreme north and south) there are worldwide, high class, observatories already installed and there is continuous demand. For example, in August 2008, the government of Chile signed a contract with EADS Astrium SAS for the development of the SSOT system (Satellite for Earth Observation). The SSOT program also included the development and setting up of a ground control segment and image processing facilities enabling the satellites to be directly operated and controlled from Chile by the Chilean authorities. Among other important development was the signing of a collaboration agreement on Copernicus between the European Commission and the Government of Chile in March 2018.

Overall, Chile is already using a whole array of satellites given its geographical and meteorological conditions: meteorological satellites (e.g., Low Earth Orbital Satellite, Geostationary Earth Orbital Satellite); specialized centres (Meteorological Service of the Chilean Navy (SERVIMET); teledetection and sensors.

In which sector (agriculture, energy, security etc…) do you see the EO industry having a growing impact?

Important productive sectors in Chile that could be enhanced via the use of EO are, for example: forestry, agriculture, and renewable energies. Moreover, Chile is a country that suffers from natural disasters such as earthquakes, tsunamis, landslides, fires and volcanic eruptions where there is surely a great opportunity to create new solutions. The country also faces climate related challenges such as poor air quality in Santiago (and in some other cities) and there exists an expressed interest to strive for a development towards Smart Cities. Below some examples of areas that are of interest to develop in Chile:

• New advances in GPSS and InSAR to identify high geological risk areas (geohazards) such as: earthquakes, volcanoes, landslides, glacier movements, etc.
• High quality Data dissemination Platforms (QA/QC) for the Public Policy in Disaster Risk Reduction (RRD) based on science and technological evidence.
• Forest Fires, lead by the Socio-natural Disaster Observatory.
• Operational Oceanography: Ocean Climate (e.g. el Niño) and Ocean Weather Monitoring (e.g. storms)
• Air quality forecasting and diagnostics
• Land use change (urbanization trends, fire, etc.)
• Coastal zones
• Hydro-meteorological extremes
• Integration of Earth Data to biological data of the ocean
• Small deformations of the Earth, the potential of Copernicus and INSAR images

Eurochile is now a relay of Copernicus, how do you envision promoting it?

Since its creation, Eurochile has carried out various activities aimed at strengthening commercial links between Chilean and European companies, the transfer of technology and know-how, and the strengthening of public institutions with the aim of improving the business climate for SMEs. We have extensive experience in training and advising companies, and in organising conferences, seminars, events, and B2Bs. Our work plan to develop and manage the work of the Copernicus Relay is based on these pillars and supported by providing ample information on the Copernicus programme on our website, have available promotional and informational materials in our offices, and organize Webinars and conferences with European experts. We have good relations with regional governments, universities, and SME organisations and companies through our projects with European and national funds. These activities can be incorporated into current and future projects. The transversal priority is the incorporation of advanced innovation and technologies in SMEs and environmental care.

You also signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to develop synergies and strengthen cooperation in business, research and technology between Chile and Europe in the utilisation of EO technology. Which element of cooperation in this MoU is the most important for you? What is the added value of such a MoU?

We are very pleased and moreover honoured to have the opportunity to have an MoU with such a prestigious association as EARSC. The primary objective of this MoU is to establish a formal cooperation initiative between both institutions to promote the use of EO technology, support companies in both regions that offer EO-related products and services, and in general promote economic, trade, and technological cooperation through business promotion, and the transfer of technology and know-how.

All the concrete objectives outlined in the MoU are of priority, such as offering and expanding support in connecting European companies with Chilean companies with the aim of incentivising new business opportunities for companies, transfer of technology and innovation, and other collaboration mechanisms. We aim to support each other in the organization of visits to each other’s countries/regions, jointly apply to project funding that would allow us to provide more visibility to the Copernicus programme and the vast European expertise, and regularly exchange information, transfer of experiences and best practices, among others.

EARSC has a valuable base of members, and the experiences of the companies and the association is a valuable asset and contribution to what Eurochile as a Relay wants to accomplish in Chile. We know that there exists an increasingly growing interest in working with Chile, for example within the framework of different cluster platforms. We think that the excellent collaboration already established between our entities is a powerful tool to explore further areas of work in promoting greater use of Copernicus that can in turn help companies to grow in productivity and competitiveness, particularly in sector of importance in Chile like agriculture, mining, energy, forestry, and overall measures to achieve a circular economy.

What are Eurochile’s future goals?

Eurochile strives to continue its legacy of fulfilling its mission of promoting SME internationalization, trade and technological cooperation between the private sector and institutions in Chile and the EU, through business promotion, and the transfer of technology and know-how. We strive to do this by continuously applying to national and European funds and expanding are large network of collaborators in the EU – which include entities from think-tanks, academics, centres of excellence, chambers of commerce, among others. It is important for our Foundation to support SMEs particularly in areas of growing relevance such as the challenges that come with climate change and the shift to a more circular economy and strategies to adapt to the fourth industrial revolution and with that the promotion of advance technologies, sound labour policies, and social cohesion.

Short Biography

Vicente Caruz

President of Eurochile Foundation. In addition, he is director of Desarrollo y Redes and a member of Sociedad de Inversiones Norte Sur and has held several positions in the financial sector. He was also a faculty member of the universities of Chile and Católica de Chile (1965-1985), and member of the boards of several institutions, including the Institute of Engineers.