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Retention of talent in science and technology: a task beyond the Bicentennial

Retention of talent in science and technology: a task beyond the Bicentennial

In the middle of the pandemic, and facing the Bicentennial, it is undeniable that investment in Science and Technology it must be a priority. However, the eternal monster of “the urgent” always postpones the structural changes that, at the State level, must be carried out to optimize the vision of development that we need for a society capable of solving problems in another way. Over time, the constant unfulfilled promise of the “research stimulus” has ended up fostering a brain drain, the very ones we need to retain.

A few weeks ago, the President Francisco Sagasti stressed the need to improve research and development conditions, giving the National Council of Science and Technology a leading role in research. At the ceremony, the outgoing authority highlighted the gap that currently puts us at a disadvantage:

“In Peru, some calculations indicate that we should have around 20,000 to 25,000 phds or doctors in the areas of science. At present, the CONCYTEC records, if I am not mistaken, estimate that there are around five thousand or six thousand ”, the president pointed out in his speech. “We have to make a huge effort, a huge effort to catch up with what our country requires to be on the frontiers of knowledge just like other countries.”

Is Peru not attractive for innovation?

To Alonso Mujica, CEO of Silabuz and a broad connoisseur of the business model of technological ventures, the Peruvian State’s commitment to the recovery of technological and scientific talent must be solid: “Peru should have a much stronger science and technology ecosystem for it to be worth retaining or recovering the talent that is abroad.”

This stimulus includes several conditions, both from the state and the private side. While there is a regulatory framework for investment in innovation, the truth is our public investment in these issues barely represents 10% of the total of money injected into science and technology by neighboring countries such as Colombia, Chile and Brazil.

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To make matters worse, the passive role of the State causes other companies to offer better tax and financial conditions to Peruvian entrepreneurs, promoting the constitution of hubs regional

“For example, there are other countries where you can receive financing to boost and improve your business, easy access to bank loans, state subsidies or research and development funds; and, above all, it pays less taxes than in Peru “ Mujica remarks. “In other words, not only do you have access to more capital, but even when your business begins to operate, it is better for you to operate from those countries than in Peru due to a tax issue.”

Science and the need to attract investment

To Carla Arce-Tord, prominent Peruvian astrophysicist, there is an obvious problem of identification with the benefits of science, especially with those “exact sciences” that are capable of providing solutions to various problems.

“One of the pillars of scientific development in a society is the democratization of science, in which society is shown the usefulness and benefit of all areas of science; and how all of them have, in any case, an impact on our lives, whether in the short, medium or long term “ the scientific popularizer stands out. “If we continue to contribute with these details, I think that in the not too distant future we will be able to have a globalized scientific sector in Peru that will allow us to develop outstanding scientific careers in our own country.”

In the midst of an obvious management problem for research projects, Arce-Tord had to choose to leave the country and settle in Chile to continue expanding your professional horizon in observational astronomy issues. However, he believes there are benefits to this decision.

“I think that the two main reasons why it is beneficial to leave the country would be: One, to form a network of contacts and collaborators. This not only contributes to bringing good research projects and external funding to the country, but the collaboration with researchers worldwide allows students in Peru to have the opportunity to start working with teachers from different parts of the world and to train with very good scientific standards from universities in Peru. And two allow us to acquire new knowledge and research management schemes that can be applied in the country ”, points to the astrophysicist winner of the Young Scientist Award in 2014, organized by the International Union of Radioscience.

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Little Encouraged Digital Entrepreneurship in Peru

In case of Victor Morales, founder of the fintech “The fi”, it is demonstrative. Due to little incentive on the part of the public and private sectors, it had to establish its base of operations in Mexico, as it is a country that has developed an aggressive strategy to promote this type of company.

“In nearby countries such as Chile, Colombia and Brazil – which are just here – there are those accompanying instruments and others to strengthen these issues of innovation, science and technology”, mentions the employer.

In terms of support, the The State has sought to finance the agricultural sector as a serious measure to strengthen productivity and the level of competitiveness hand in hand with the increase in exports. But nevertheless, these types of strategies do not apply to the technology sector seeking capital injection to consolidate an attractive proposal.

“There are no adequate instruments that take that government effort, those funds or these issues, which the Ministry of production has been doing for some time, towards the real actors”, Morales mentions. “I think the issue of accelerators or incubators in Peru is very badly raised. The support must come with adequate instruments to the true actors of science, technology and innovation in Peru, so you do not force them to go out and be attracted by foreign offers ”.

Currently, “Alfi” establishes its base of operations in Mexico and already has strategic alliances from the Central Government to promote financial education from the technological approach and the promotion of savings with retirement in mind.

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What should the Peruvian State do to retain talent?

Although it is a complex situation, the interviewees have a specific vision of the role that the state plays in this rethinking. To Carla Arce-Tord, the reorganization of the state section for the promotion of research should include better working conditions.

“One of the priority issues is the management of science-oriented public policies. The processes of financing research projects by public entities have a very bureaucratic approach and little aligned with what it really is to carry out a research project, which is why the exact sciences, which are in charge of generating new knowledge, they do not benefit. In addition, if we want our scientists to develop their careers in the country, instead of migrating, we must improve working conditions and formally establish a career as a researcher. And to this, without a doubt, add to the importance of financing projects aimed at the dissemination of science at the national level ”, comments the researcher.

“Peru is a country where operating – that is, having your base, your equipment – is much cheaper than in any large city in the region. So, if we had good incentives to set up hubs, central offices in Lima or anywhere in the country and, from here, provide service to other countries would be a great goal ”, points out as differential Mujica.