With the Universidad Nacional de Río Negro (UNRN, Argentina) as host institution, representatives of the 14institutions from Latin America and Europe that make up the consortium of the Erasmus+ i2latam project: Strengthening research and innovation in young universities for regional development in Latin America, co-financed by the European Union, met from November 15 to 18 in San Carlos de Bariloche to share progress in general and at the level of each university.

The event was opened by the vice-rector of the Andean Headquarters of the UNRN, Diego Aguiar; the secretary general of the UNRN, Luis Vivas; and the general coordinator of i2latam and director of International Relations of the Universidad de La Sabana (Colombia), Alejandra Gonzales. The mayor of Bariloche, Gustavo Genusso, also participated and congratulated the UNRN and the institutions present for "thinking about how to act regionally according to their capabilities".

Invited by the UNRN, the Secretary of Planning and Sustainable Development of Río Negro, Daniel Sanguinetti, presented the Green Hydrogen Strategic Plan of the province and the Diploma in Green Hydrogen offered by this institution, which aroused interest in Latin American universities.

The meeting represented an opportunity "to continue deepening the strategic research focus identified by each university, which in the case of the UNRN is Food, and to identify possible cooperation projects with Latin American partners for a greater impact in the region," explained Daniel Barrio, Secretary for Research at the UNRN Atlantic Campus.

As co-leading institution together with the Catholic University of San Pablo (UCSP, Peru) of the work package Nº7 linked to the project's communication (WP7: Dissemination and Exploitation), the UNRN presented the progress of the Exploitation Plan which "in addition to publicizing the results of the project, has the fundamental objective of making the knowledge, tools and experiences of this initiative available to other institutions of higher education interested in advancing similar processes," explained the UNRN's Secretary for Communication and Media, Marcos Del Bello.

In addition to the agenda of activities related to each of the eight work packages that make up the project, those attending the event -from Argentina, Colombia, Peru, Mexico, Portugal, Belgium and Ireland- visited tourist attractions and sites of interest related to the project, such as the high-tech company INVAP and the facilities of the Andean Headquarters of the UNRN.

"As a public university, we are proud to host this international meeting, to be able to open the doors of our place and show the capabilities we have not only as an institution but also as a province committed to regional development. It is an opportunity to identify strategic alliances to better respond to common challenges, always from a local perspective," said Vivas.

Research for regional development

Under this project, which began in 2020 and ends in May 2023, Latin American universities acquired skills to strengthen their research and innovation management capabilities based on a methodology developed by the University of Compostela (Spain) and the guidance of European partners.

This process included the identification of areas of specialization, a mapping of internal capacities and resources, a closer approach to stakeholders, an analysis of opportunities marked by major social challenges and global scientific and technological trends, and the definition of local and regional priorities to which to respond. As a result, each university developed a more focused research agenda that will allow it to design strategies better adapted to the context.

"This project is very much in line with the philosophy of the UNRN since its inception. For the University, transferring its knowledge, linking with the environment and having an impact on the development of the region in which it is inserted is a central axis, as is teaching and extension," said the Secretary for Research, Artistic Creation, Development and Technology Transfer (SICADyTT-UNRN), Marta Borda.

"We know the environment in which we develop and we know the capabilities we have. Participation in i2latam allowed us to organize and deepen the information we already had, obtaining a more specific and focused map of research and innovation. Today we know better what we have and how many sectors and environmental demands we can respond to", said Borda.

About i2latam

Those interested in learning about the capabilities of i2latam member institutions and generating joint projects, or accessing project resources to improve the R&D capabilities of their institutions can visit i2latam.com and contact info@i2latam.com.