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Over 2008-13, Chile’s productivity growth exceeded that of most OECD economies. While Chile’s STI system lags in many respects, it is catching up in some areas.
Hot Issues are major national STI policy priorities, as self-reported by countries in their responses to the OECD STIO 2014 policy questionnaire.
Improving the framework conditions for innovation (including competitiveness)
While BERD as a share of GDP lags the OECD median (Panel 1d), it grew by 10% in 2009-12; 7.8% of BERD is publicly financed in 2012, down from 18.3 % in 2009, and close to the OECD average (7.6%). In March 2012, to encourage further private investment in R&D, the government modified its R&D tax credit framework: the eligibility requirements for collaboration with external research centres and the requirement to invest at least 15% of the company’s gross annual revenue were abolished.
Improving returns and impact of science
Chile’s public research system has a small budget; few of its universities are among the world’s leading institutions and there are few international publications relative to GDP by OECD standards (Panel 1a, b, c). However, the 35.3% of Chilean GERD performed by HEIs in 2012 was well above the OECD average (18.1%), owing to the importance of HEIs in the innovation system. To capitalise on the returns from a rather limited science base, several initiatives to encourage and step up the commercialisation of public research were introduced during 2012-14 (see below).
Encouraging innovation in firms and supporting entrepreneurship and SMEs
Chile’s business innovation performance is well below the OECD medians (Panel 1d, f, g), particularly among SMEs. To address this challenge, the government supports entrepreneurship through several funding schemes, including seed, angel and venture capital programmes that also provide financial, legal and managerial advice. Triadic patent applications as a share of GDP (Panel 1f) indicate that Chile currently has a weak international technological presence. In 2012 the Ministry of Foreign Affairs created CONTACTChile to support the internationalisation of Chilean businesses. CONTACTChile targets technology-intensive companies (primarily SMEs) with a strong export potential. Each beneficiary is supported with up to USD 20 000. It focuses on ICT, environment and biotechnology sectors and on firms that address social challenges.
Improving the governance of innovation system and policy
In January 2013, the government created an S&T advisory committee (STAC) to improve the governance of the innovation system. In its report, “Institutional Modernisation for STI”, the committee identified several obstacles that are hard to address under the current governance framework. A key objective is to optimise the use of the public budget for innovation. Public R&D expenditure is managed by different agencies; they respond to different ministries and do not necessarily adhere to an integrated, common, long-term vision for STI policy. The STAC suggested creating an institutional body to co-ordinate the agencies involved. Also, to strengthen collaboration of HEIs with the business sector, the STAC proposed creating a ministry in charge of formulating co-ordinated policies for STI and higher education.
Chile spends 2.61% of GDP on higher education (Panel 1s), just behind Canada and the United States, and 29% of the Chilean population has tertiary education (Panel 1t), a share comparable to that of the EU28 (27%). Yet in 2012, Chile had only one researcher per thousand employees, compared to the EU28 average of seven. Also, quality indicators only place Chile at the OECD bottom (Panel 1v).To improve the supply of high-end HRST, the government is expanding its Becas Chile scholarship programme. Its budget of USD 151 million (CLP 52 588 million) for 2013 provides full financial support for international postgraduate studies on condition that students return to Chile upon completion of their studies. In addition, a national scholarship programme, with USD 113 million (CLP 39 238 million) in 2013, funds postgraduate studies in Chilean universities.
The National Innovation Council reviewed Chile’s innovation strategy inAugust 2013 at the end of the President Piñera government. The review identified energy, biology and education as strategic business sectors. As part of its new STI strategy, Chile will also carry out a decadal survey on astronomy in 2014.The government expects to host more than two-thirds of the world’s terrestrial observations in the next decade. In addition to providing policy guidelines, the reviewaims to create a public network of actors to co-ordinate scientific, technological and entrepreneurial efforts. Recently, the new government of President Bachelet launched the Growth, Innovation and Productive Agenda, which includes priority sectors for social and economic development.
Overall, Chile’s Ease of Doing Business Index is below the OECD median (Panel 1j). The Chilean authorities have continued their efforts in this regard: a new law, introduced in May 2013, eases requirements for business registration and reduces the time required for registering a firm to one day.
Connectivity and use of the Internet continue to be a challenge for Chile. The country lags the OECD in fixed and wireless broadband subscribers per capita (Panel 1l, m). Its e-government development index has improved since 2012 but is still below the OECD median (Panel 1n).
Technology transfers and commercialisation
In order to strengthen the commercialisation of public research, the Transfer and Licensing Offices Programme (from the Chilean Economic Development Agency, CORFO) seeks to build competences for managing technology transfer and commercialising R&D. It also funds the training (in Chile and abroad) of professionals and technical staff in universities and research institutes. It also seeks to strengthen its IPR framework by improving procedures, protection and enforcement of IPR. The National Commission for Scientific and Technological Research (CONICYT) continues its efforts to facilitate access to research data generated by public funds.
Over the past three years, Start-Up Chile, a seed capital programme, has supported more than 750 start-ups, whose founders come from over 70 countries. The programme seeks to attract overseas entrepreneurs by offering USD 40 000 in equity-free seed capital and a working visa to develop projects in Chile.