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Inria Chile, driver for technological innovation

Nayat Sanchez-Pi Nayat Sanchez-Pi, director of Inria Chile - © Inria

Inria Chile is the first center of Inria outside France. Its mission is to conduct and articulate high-impact research and development in digital technologies in service of society with special emphasis in Chile and Latin America.

Inria Chile, driver for technological innovation

Inria Chile is a driver for technological innovation and knowledge transfer by effectively collaborating with companies, institutions, and start-ups to meet the challenges of the digital revolution. It aims at inspiring and educating future generations of scientists and engineers to take the leading roles in that transformation. It is also a means to foster the R&D activities of French companies and start-ups in Chile and Latin America

Inria Chile focuses its activities around five priority R&D lines that represent the subjects in which it can have the greatest impact on technological and scientific ecosystems. In particular, those lines are:

  1. data, knowledge, security, and confidentiality,
  2. artificial intelligence and autonomous systems,
  3. interaction, visualization, and multimedia,
  4. modeling and simulation, optimization and control, and
  5. systems, networks and the internet of things.

Those lines are integrated into a series of application areas that are particularly linked to the unique characteristics of Chile like astronomy, mining, renewable energies, logistics and retail, resilience to disasters, industry 4.0, smart agriculture and security, among others . Inria Chile leads the technological shift in these areas with more than 40 project-teams having active collaborations between France and Chile.

At the heart of the academic and industrial ecosystem of Latin America

Inria Chile was created in 2012. Since then it has been executing an ambitious program with the combined support of Inria and the Chilean Ministry of Economy through CORFO, its economic development agency, and strategic alliances with eight top Chilean universities, in particular, the University of Chile, the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile, the Federico Santa María Technical University, the Pontifical Catholic University of Valparaíso, the University of Valparaíso, the University of the Frontier, the University of Concepción, and the Adolfo Ibáñez University. Besides those alliance, it also maintains collaboration agreements with universities, research centers and companies in Latin America, US, Europe, and Asia.

Collaborations and connections with the innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem are actively fostered and encouraged, as stated in the mission. The mechanisms for achieving these relations can be grouped into three groups: the collaborative association with companies, government institutions and other institutional actors, the advanced tech training center, and the startup tech studio.

Collaborative associations can be set-up by establishing joint innovation laboratories,  research and development contracts, direct consulting or services, and technology licensing.


I want to make Inria Chile a success case for Inria actions abroad France by conducting and articulating high-impact research and development in service of society and taking advantage of the uniqueness of Chile as a natural laboratory for the confluence of research, innovation, and entrepreneurship.

                                                            Nayat-Sanchez-Pi, Director of Inria Chile since September, 2018


Transferring knowledge, creating and accelerating start-ups

The Advanced Tech Training Center transfers knowledge of Inria experts in an effective and direct training program that can be leveraged by companies and startups that seek to innovate and integrate digital technologies such as AI, machine learning, IoT among others related to the lines of the center and open source technologies of Inria.

Some of the Tech Trainings will be launched soon :

  • AI/Data Science with Scikit-learn
  • Agile Programing with Pharo
  • Modelling and Simulation with SOFA
  • IoT with RIOT

The Startup Tech Studio promotes new technology-based companies through different association and support mechanisms . This is a unique and unpaired offer to the ones currently existing in the region, where a large number of incubators, accelerators and state support programs have been implanted.

The programs that are being deployed are:

  • CTO@InriaChile: trains engineers in deep tech technologies and provides training as CTO's Inria Chile, which promotes their professional careers and insertion in partner companies and organizations.
  • Softlanding@InriaChile: attracts and supports French and European technology-based startups and SMEs that seek to enter the Chilean and/or Latin American market.
  • Early-Stage Startups: aimed at supporting new companies to build their scientific team and accelerate their capabilities at an early stage. This mechanism provides solid support by forming human capital, providing mentoring, infrastructure and giving the support of Inria Chile in calls for public funding.

Project highlights by areas

Astronomy

It has been developed mainly in the northern zone of Chile, particularly in the Atacama Desert, which has been recognized as the best place on earth to observe the sky. Due to a large number of

ALMA Project Telescope ALMA Project Telescope

observatories, telescopes and astronomical projects developed in Chile and the consequent need to process, store and disseminate the data they generate, the country is projected as the world capital of astroinformatics 

Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA)  

Inria Chile began collaborating with the ALMA Observatory in 2012 when they, together with researchers of the ILDA Inria team, jointly developed the "ALMA Dashboard", a system to visualize the real-time status of the observatory's 66 antennas and their internal components. The success of the "ALMA Dashboard" led to the development of "ALMA Integrated Alarm System”, the observatory's monitoring and alarms system. Currently, ALMA and Inria Chile maintain a fluid collaboration and are exploring new opportunities on the convergence of Astronomy, Data Engineering, Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence, and Human-Computer Interaction together with the Data Observatory of the Ministry of Economy and researchers from the Adolfo Ibáñez University.

Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST)

The LSST is a telescope under construction at Cerro Pachón in Chile which will be equipped with the most powerful digital camera ever built, which will allow observing the dark energy responsible for the acceleration of the expansion of the universe. Inria Chile has become a strategic partner in this project, working both on the design and development of the user interface components for the control room of the LSST principal and auxiliary telescopes and on the platform where this interface will be deployed among others.

Mining

Mining plays a key role in the Chilean economy, being present in 13 of the 15 regions that make up the country, from which around 25 different minerals are extracted. The contribution of the mining sector to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of Chile has averaged 13% in the last decade. Due to the strong economic impact of the mining sector, the Inria Chile center has put efforts into generating digital technology-based initiatives or solutions that solve the challenges of this industry. 

Tranque Program

Tranque is a public-private initiative that seeks to contribute to the safe and reliable operation of mining tailing dams by improving data gathering, coordination and trust relationships among different stakeholders through an advanced monitoring system. Recent disasters in Brazil, Canada, and the Philippines have raised the concern of governments, companies, investors and the general public regarding the safety and environmental impact of tailings.

Inria Chile is building a platform to capture, store, process and visualize data on the stability of the mining industry's tailings dams, which will provide quality, reliable and timely information to authorities, mining companies and communities. This initiative, coordinated by Fundación Chile, has as strategic partners like Inria Chile, and Chilean government institutions and agencies, in particular,  the Production Development Corporation (Corfo), the Ministry of Mining, National Geology and Mining Service (Sernageomin), the National Office of Emergency of the Interior Ministry (ONEMI), the Superintendency for the Environment (SMA), the Ministry of Public Works (DGA). A group of the most important mining companies is also strategic partners. In particular, Antofagasta Minerals (AMSA), the National Copper Corporation of Chile (CODELCO), BHP, the National Mining Company (ENAMI), the Advanced Technology Center for Mining (AMTC), and Valor Compartido. 

Integrated Center for the Piloting of Mining Technologies (CIPTEMIN)

The purpose of CIPTEMIN is to provide the infrastructure and capabilities so that mining stakeholders can test technologies that are in the pilot development phase, as a step prior to scaling and commercial implementation.

Inria Chile is the technological co-executor of CIPTEMIN, providing technological support and advanced tech training. This initiative is led by the Universidad Católica del Norte (UCN) and also in collaboration with other ten institutions - universities, companies and international centers.

Energy 

Chile has great potential in terms of renewable energy due to its geographical and climatic conditions. The country has the highest solar radiation in the world, strong winds throughout its territory that allow the development of wind energy, an extensive coast from north to south for the development of marine energy, the ability to develop biogas and a geothermal resource along the Andes Mountain Range. It should be noted that according to the latest edition of New Energy Finance Climascope, Chile reached the first place in renewable energy investment in Latin America and the Caribbean region. 

Advanced Modeling Project for Renewable Marine Energies

This project meant to create a model associated with the OceaPos numerical platform for the reduction of ocean fluxes, which in turn will be able to consider the interactions between the turbine and the main flux. It also seeks to propose new coupling techniques based on new edge conditions, allowing the development of multiphysical ocean models from the coast to the deep sea. This is a collaborative project between the Center for Research and Innovation in Marine Energy (MERIC), members of the LEMON and TOSCA Inria teams, the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile, CIGIDEN and Inria Chile. The future goal is to continue developing existing models to offer a version capable of sizing and designing turbine fields for a specific location in Chile.

Keywords: Ecology Energy Astronomy Inria Chile

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