Adam Cohen, president of the entity that won the Corfo tender: “Our goal is to generate between 25 to 50 new companies in 10 years”

The following is press coverage of an interview with Adam Cohen regarding AUI’s involvement with ICTL, translated by Google.

Consorcio rules out that the work of the Institute of Clean Technologies will only be “academic” and says that it will be focused on productive development. It affirms that its model is open, so that the Ues that were left out could be part of projects.

With the focus on putting the Clean Technologies Institute (ICTL) into operation soon is the Associated Universities, Inc. (AUI), the entity that won the Corfo tender that is being questioned by another of the consortiums that was in competition. In this interview, the president of AUI, Adam Cohen, speaks for the first time on the subject and points out that his proposal is beneficial for the country and also for those who did not win, since it will be an open development platform, just as they do with the ALMA observatory, which is also managed by AUI.

Are you aware of the controversy generated by the tender?

-AUI is very excited that Corfo has chosen us to establish this institute. We are very excited to start and interact with universities in Chile to make this a great success. The northern macrozone of Chile is a tremendous opportunity to have an institute that really focuses on incredibly important key areas to address climate change and reduce emissions from mining, but also to improve renewable energy and develop advanced materials. Thus, we will be able to see real products and improved products that will come out of the north of Chile, based on mining products, such as lithium and copper.

What is the main objective?

-AUI is a non-profit institution founded in 1946 to establish and manage research and development organizations, and we see ICTL consistent with our philosophy and vision as a corporation to make breakthroughs possible. In this case we see our role is to establish the institute to allow access to it in a broad way through many disciplines and many institutions in Chile, including industry and academia and making the connection as fluid as possible, so that researchers and innovations and technologies can be applied in the institute and use the infrastructure that we plan to build and commercialize it and deploy it in the industries in the north of Chile. That is our goal, to establish and manage the platform, both physically the institute and the connections and collaborations.

Will the institute be open to other organizations and companies?

-Right, in fact it was always the idea of ​​AUI, to manage an open access platform.

So it will not be an institute only of “academic papers”, as some critics indicate?

-Yes, in addition to being open to institutions in the country, it will be open to institutions in a broader way, to international organizations. But the idea is that they will have to come to Chile, to this institute, with the idea that the results will benefit the northern macrozone. If you look at research development, demonstrations, and eventually deployment, the institute’s focus is from development, where you have, say, a prototype in a lab until it’s ready to be deployed. It’s not in early research, but in things that can be developed and released, let’s say over a three-year period, roughly speaking.

Do you have any specific goals for the next few years?

-In 10 years we hope to see that this institute is self-sustaining, that is, that investment continues to come from industries and associates, so that the institute continues to do the development work it needs to do. Perhaps at the beginning a lot of work will be done with lithium and copper mining, but at some point, developments will continue to be made in the manufacture of refined lithium, battery cells, eventually batteries and final goods. There are many developments. So the main objective is to make this institute self-sustaining. The second, establishing and helping to manage an incubator or an ecosystem, where entrepreneurs can start creating companies in the north. Our goal is to generate 25 to 50 new companies in the next 10 years. We would also like to lower emissions, but we have limited power to do that,What we can do is develop technology that can achieve that and the idea is to bring mining emissions to zero globally by 2050. The only way to do it in mining is to start working on the technology now.

What do you think was the most attractive part of your proposal?

-We are going to have a presentation from Corfo, in which they will inform us about the proposal. What we try to do in our history, and in this proposal, is that we do not want to be the organization that develops the technologies. We really want to manage the system that builds the locations that makes access widely available to universities, to companies, to anyone. We want to be open and based on merit. Make it open to anyone who you consider to have merit and increase your chances of succeeding.

Was the controversy generated after the tender a surprise to you?

-What I can say is that we are very excited about our proposal, we believe that it will benefit all the other teams that participated in the tender, not only the universities, but also the industries. We believe that if we are successful in what we want to achieve, and we are convinced that we will be, it will be of tremendous benefit to the entire ecosystem: researchers, technology people, engineers, large and small companies, etc. An example of this is the ALMA facility that we operate in Atacama, in partnership with ESO and the Japanese team. Our portion is open to other researchers around the world.

Are you worried that this controversy could put back the bidding?

-We are not for profit, we focus on research and development for the benefit of humanity, and our main objective is for an institute like this to be realized, so that we can reduce mining emissions and have all the other benefits of developments in other industries. We believe that our model is the best to achieve this, but we are certainly open to collaborating with other teams, because we have to maintain the vision of what the institute can do for the benefit of Chile.

But are they worried?

-My focus has to be on the short term, starting the process to install the institute. Corfo has already started the process, it has already sent us the documentation, so we have many things to focus on now. Because to do what we want to do we must start immediately.

Article written by Rodrigo Cárdenas from Latercera.


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