Chapter 3: Linkages between Bio-Innovation, Knowledge Production and Policy in Uruguay
Isabel Bortagaray, Isarelis Pérez Ones and Judith Sutz INTRODUCTION Biotechnology has been a sort of buzzword for the Uruguayan science and technology policy for more than 20 years. During this time, biotechnology never failed to be nominated as a high priority for the country. This was due for bad as well as for good reasons. The bad reason was mainly a blind follow-up of the new technologies world fashion. The good reasons included the agro-industrial bias of the Uruguayan productive structure, which made biotechnology a good cognitive bet, and the relatively strong research capabilities in the whole field of life sciences accumulated in the country. Such prioritization was expressed mainly at the level of competitive funds for S&T administrated by the government. In the late 1980s and the 1990s such funds originated in S&T loans from the Inter American Development Bank; since the middle of the first decade of the twenty-first century budgetary resources were greatly increased. But little was done in terms of calling on biotechnology from the demand side: industrial, environmental or health policies have not thoroughly explored biotechnology as a means to achieve some of their goals. Moreover, Uruguay did not push to be included in the early Argentinean–Brazilian institutional common efforts in biotechnology as part of the MERCOSUR agreement in 1985, another signal that ‘high priority’ was a label with restricted practical consequences. Twenty years later, in 2005, this imbalance began to be redressed: Uruguay entered the BIOTECSUR Platform, financed with funds...
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