Chile is planning to expand its raw material sector in the next few years. As a result, Germany and Chile concluded a raw material partnership in January 2013. This makes the South American country a potential target country for BMBF funding measures in the field of “raw materials of strategic importance to the economy”. The South American country has enormous potential in terms of highly-qualified scientists and also has excellent research facilities.

Three men in an copper mine

Optimizing the extraction of molybdenum in Chilean copper mines © Helmholtz Institute for Resources Research in Freiberg

Funding opportunities for Chile

Within the framework of the bilateral cooperation in research and education, the exchange of scientists in collaborative projects between Germany and Chile will be supported by various funding instruments.

The call "Richtlinie zur Förderung von Antragstellungen im Rahmen des EU-Rahmenprogramms für Forschung und Innovation Horizont 2020 mit Partnern aus Nord- und Südamerika" will be open until 21 December 2018.

Learn more about the Science and Technology Cooperation (STC) between Germany and Chilehere.

Political framework

Chile has been an OECD member since May 2010 and is one of the most prosperous and politically stable countries in Latin America. The Chilean economy continues to show strong economic growth rates driven by strong domestic demand and high copper prices. Around 40 percent of the world’s copper deposits are located in Chile. The country’s president, Michelle Bachelet, signed a legal draft in May 2014, which rang in a historic shift in its education policy. This includes basic reforms in education and at universities.

The scientific and technological cooperation between the Federal Republic of Germany and the Republic of Chile is based on the new bilateral STC agreement signed on 1 October 2012. The agreement replaces the intergovernmental agreement concluded on 28 August 1970. It is intended to reflect the changes in the political framework conditions, taking particular account of the democratic development in Chile and bilateral STC developments over the last 40 years.

On the Chilean side, research policy is implemented by the National Commission for Scientific and Technological Research, CONICYT (Comisión Nacional de Investigación Científica y Tecnológica). CONICYT is the primary specialist partner, particularly for reciprocal financing of bilateral projects. On the German side, the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) is responsible for the STC with Chile. It is supported in these efforts by the project management agency at the DLR, International Bureau.

The Chilean government has continued the initial policy of supporting Chilean research. In addition to the education reforms, President Bachelet’s also called for greater investment in the fields of research and development in her government programme in order to increase the country’s competitiveness. An important element in the strategy to promote applied research and innovation is setting up “International centres of excellence for innovation”.

Focus of the German-Chilean cooperation

In collaboration with its international partners, Chile is engaged in efforts to explore outer space and find out more about the Antarctic continent. Large high-performance devices such as telescopes and research satellites provide important research findings for some of the most urgent astrophysics questions. The BMBF provides 22 percent of institutional funding for the sites of the European South Observatory (ESO).

At the commission meetings, the BMBF together with the Chilean Foreign Ministry (MINREL) and the Ministry of Education (MINEDUC) as well as the National Research Council (CONICYT) determines the priorities of the cooperation. The STC with Chile focuses on marine and polar research, mining and raw material extraction, biotechnology, basic renewables energy research, environmental sciences and the sustainable use of natural resources as well as the cooperation in university education and vocational training.

Highlights of the bilateral cooperation

Identify disasters in time

With support from the BMBF, the German Aerospace Centre (DLR) maintains research cooperation with Chile in the context of the “Multi-Hazard Information and Early Warning System.” The system integrates terrestrial seismologic and geodesic observation networks with marine measurement methods and satellite observations. The primary partner on the Chilean side is the National Research Center for Integrated Natural Disasters Management – CIGIDEN, a centre of excellence for natural hazards comprised of four Chilean universities. This system is expected to be transferred to Chile in cooperation with other organisations such as SHOA (hydrographic service of the navy) and ONEMI (Chilean civil protection). Because the system is expected to be expanded for other catastrophes such as earthquakes, volcanic eruption, flooding, fire and landslides, further research is necessary. The large tsunami of 2010 in Chile is the backdrop for the project.

Tsunami-Frühwarncenter Chile Tsunami-Frühwarncenter Führung
DLR project "Multi-Hazard Early Warning System with Chile." Project participants in the early warning center of the Shoa (Hydrographic Service of the Chilean Army)

Since 1991, the Deutsches Fernerkundungsdatenzentrum [German Remote Sensing Data Centre] of the DLR and the Bundesamt für Kartographie und Geodäsie [Federal Agency for Cartography and Geodesy] (BKG) have maintained the German research station GARS (German Antarctic Receiving Station) next to the Chilean General Bernardo O'Higgins Base in the Antarctic. The station receives data from Earth observation satellites and radio stars and records the data on storage devices which are then sent to Germany for analysis and are also important for the early warning system.

Sustainable use of raw materials

Since the future expansion of the raw material sector is planned, joint research activities in this area are also expanded further. In the context of the BMBF CLIENT programme, TU Bergakademie Freiberg is performing a research project on “Secondary Mining” in Northern Chile. The project will investigate whether significant raw materials can still be obtained from old Chilean mining stratifications and the feasibility of the environmentally friendly storage of waste materials.

The Helmholtz Institute Freiberg for Resource Technology (HIF) together with the Chilean industry partner IM2 (a subsidiary of the state copper group Codelco) is developing an extraction strategy to improve the excavation of molybdenite as a by-product of copper ore in Chile. The project “Opti-Moly” is funded by the BMBF.

The new excellence centre “Centre for Solar Energy Technologies (CSET)“ was founded in 2015 under the auspices of Fraunhofer Chile Research (FCR) with the support of the Chilean economic funding authority CORFO. This is a cooperation with the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems (ISE) in Freiburg. The primary aim is to test solar technologies in Northern Chile by constructing different pilot facilities. In doing so, Fraunhofer CSET wants to contribute to generating innovations, establishing a Chilean solar economy and extensively implementing solar energy in the most important industry sectors in Chile. Fraunhofer Chile Research (FCR) was founded in 2010 and is the first international centre of excellence of the FhG in the southern hemisphere.

Funding the cooperation with Chile

To support networking, the Project Management Agency - International Bureau publishes funding notices every year with the Brazilian partner, CONICYT. Funding allows research groups from Germany and Chile to collaborate on joint projects and to implement research phases in each other's countries.

In addition, the division responsible for cooperation with Chile provides resources for workshops and scientific exchange programmes to support young researchers and prepare projects. Measures to promote Germany as a location for study and research are becoming increasingly important.

What is more, additional research projects are supported by the BMBF specialist programmes, and the DAAD and DFG also have specific funding programmes with Chilean partners.

The role of the International Bureau

The bilateral cooperation between the governments and the research and development institutions in Germany are also supported by the International Bureau (IB).