LIMA – Innovative ideas are essential to reactivate Peru and remove it from the economic, social and health drama in which it finds itself, a need that has led its Government to go “hunting” for projects to provide them with funding to turn crisis into “opportunity.”
Small, medium and large companies; short, medium or long-term projects; for technological, agricultural, tourism, services, commerce or environmental sectors ... The Peruvian desire to reorient its economy to make innovation the engine of its development has no limits.
“Innovate to Reactivate” is the plan promoted by the National Program of Innovation for Competitiveness and Productivity (Innovate Peru), the public body dedicated to innovation, with which it intends to “attract and finance,” or help develop “all kinds of projects that go along that path.”TRANSVERSE AXIS
“Peru is committed to innovation as a cross-cutting axis for its development and as a motor to transition to an economy based on innovation and efficiency. And that will be fundamental for the reactivation that we need right now due to the crisis. That is why we designed and launched a strategy to add State and private initiatives in this field,” Gonzalo Villaran, head of Innovate’s Knowledge Development and Management Unit, told EFE.
“Innovate to Reactivate” offers several packages of instruments adapted for each type of innovator and project, so that they grow, reinvent themselves and allow an economic, social and health reactivation of the country.
Applicants to the program, which is still open and receiving proposals, receive co-financing for their initiatives from 12,000 soles ($3,300) to 1 million soles ($280,000).
“This program is like the second part of another initiative that was launched last March to combat COVID, which sought to promote already advanced proposals for health issues, with rapid implementation, such as the creation of masks, mechanical respirators and software for teleworking,” Villaran said.
The initiative has grown with the notion that “everyone has a place to participate: companies of all kinds, universities, the general public ... And also in all steps, from the creation of prototypes, development of processes, closure of technical gaps, adoption of technologies, until the start-up of production and sale.”NEW PRESIDENT
In fact, the development of innovation and science was expressly mentioned as a specific state objective by the new president, Francisco Sagasti, during his inauguration last week, and precisely named an innovation expert, Jose Luis Chicoma, at the head of the Production portfolio, in what was considered a declaration of intent.
“We agree that this is one of the Executive’s priorities. Innovation is one of the main factors for productivity and without a doubt it is an activity that should be predominant in economic activity,” Villaran said.
This commitment is reinforced by the fact that in recent times “there are very good projects underway,” since Peruvian creativity is very high.
“Some of what is lacking is structure and discipline to carry out these processes, which have to be systematic and measured. There is a lot of potential in innovation and entrepreneurship. It is also important to promote the culture of innovation. And also that it is known that there is aid to companies that want to gain competitiveness,” Villaran said.
Such is this interest that Innovate has in fact another project to publicize these innovative initiatives among the general public to demonstrate that “it can be done” and in turn inspire the development of new entrepreneurs.SUCCESS STORIES
Ultimately, the idea is to replicate ideas and projects such as Sinba (Sin Basura, or No Garbage in English), an initiative that began three years ago with a proposal that unifies both technological development and social and environmental contributions, as well as being a clear example of a “circular economy.”
“Sinba was born from the basic question. What about garbage? The vast majority of what we consider garbage can have use, which is not given due to a lack of knowledge, technology or empathy. And that required an urgent radical change,” Pipo Reiser, general coordinator of the project, told EFE.
What it does, however, is collect organic waste from restaurants, hotels or schools, thereby employing numerous informal collectors.
This material is processed and treated to turn it into fertilizer or feed for pigs, which is distributed to small farmers and informal ranchers so that they improve the sanitary standards of their products, aim for their formalization and, in turn, become suppliers to hoteliers and restaurateurs.
“This already existed, they are called the ‘pigmen’ who collected waste from the street to feed their pigs, something very informal that happens behind the back of society without any sanitary control or standards for human consumption. This ends that underworld, and offers outlets for the ‘pigs,’” Reiser said.PERUVIAN SCIENCE
Valuing Peruvian science is also in the background of this effort, which offers, as researcher Mirko Zimic, from the Cayetano Heredia University told EFE, a paradigm shift, since as projected it allows for the first time that the State “ask for solutions to a problem, and fund the science needed to overcome it.”
Zimic directs a project that is basically an “app” for mobile phones that allows knowing if a child has anemia, an endemic problem in Peru, just with a photo.
“There were already other ideas in the world like this. But here we developed an “ad hoc algorithm for Peru, that is what is really innovative,” explained the researcher, who added that the technology is intended to be used with “cheap” phones with technical limitations, which are found in much of the country.
“This is a response to a request. With Innovate it is the first time that the State asks for ideas for specific problems, with the commitment to finance the solution that is found and that it will be used ... Instead of theses or beautiful publications, but not used, this opportunity was the opposite. And we have something different, an option to detect anemia, cheaply, without technical knowledge, easy for anyone to use,” he reasoned.