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Chile has been expanding its resource sector in recent years. As a result, Germany and Chile concluded a raw materials 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'. Chile has enormous potential in terms of highly-qualified scientists and is home to 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 is supported by various funding instruments.

Learn more about funding the cooperation with Chile here.

Political framework

Chile, an OECD member since May 2010, is one of the most economically prosperous and politically stable countries in Latin America. The Chilean economy is experiencing strong growth rates driven by domestic demand and high copper prices. About 40 percent of the world's copper deposits are located in Cile. The current government of President Sebastian Piñera (since March 2018) for the most part intends to continue the education reforms of the previous administration. In August 2018, the government decided to establish a new Ministry of Science (Ministerio de Ciencia, Tecnología, Conocimiento e Innovación). Its first minister is neurobiologist Andrés Couve Correa.

The scientific and technological cooperation between the Federal Republic of Germany and the Republic of Chile is based upon a bilateral STC agreement signed on 1 October 2012. The agreement replaced an intergovernmental agreement concluded on 28 August 1970. It reflects 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 currently implemented by the National Commission for Scientific and Technological Research, CONICYT (Comisión Nacional de Investigación Científica y Tecnológica). The agency is the primary specialist partner, particularly for reciprocal financing of bilateral projects. In future, the new Ministry of Science will take over these tasks. 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 International Bureau of the DLR Project Management Agency (DLR-PT).

The Chilean government has continued its policy of promoting Chilean research. In addition to educational reforms, President President Sebastian Piñera has embraced the strengthening of applied research in companies and specialized training in his government program in order to increase the country's competitiveness.

Focus of the German-Chilean cooperation

In collaboration with its international partners, Chile is engaged in efforts to explore outer space and investigate the Antarctic continent. Powerful large scale devices such as telescopes and research satellites provide scientific answers to some of the most pressing questions in astrophysics. The BMBF is funding 26 percent of the costs of the European Southern Observatory (ESO) with its locations in Santiago, Paranal, La Silla and Chajnantor in Chile. This makes Germany the largest contributor among the 11 participating European countries. At the commission meetings, the BMBF determines cooperation priorities in dialogue with the Chilean Foreign Ministry (MINREL) and the Ministry of Education (MINEDUC) as well as the National Research Council (CONICYT). The STC with Chile focuses on marine and polar research, mining and raw material extraction, biotechnology, health research, basic renewable 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

Identification of disasters in time

With support from the BMBF, the German Aerospace Center (DLR) runs the research cooperation project 'RIESGOS - Multi-risk analysis and information system components for the Andean region'. Using innovative research methods, complex multi-risk situations and associated cascading effects are analysed in selected regions of Chile, Ecuador and Peru. The system integrates terrestrial seismologic and geodesic observation networks with marine measurement methods and satellite observations. 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. To adapt the system to other catastrophes such as earthquakes, volcanic eruption, flooding, fire and landslides, further research is necessary. The project was launched against the backdrop of the large tsunami in Cile in 2010.

Tsunami-Frühwarncenter Chile Tsunami-Frühwarncenter Führung
DLR project 'RIESGOS': Project partners 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 been running the German research station GARS O'Higgins (German Antarctic Receiving Station) in the Antarctic. Campaign teams have been on site year-round since the beginning of 2010. A maximum of ten scientists, engineers and technicians work at GARS O'Higgins. The station is operated in close cooperation with the Chilean Antarctic Institute (INACH).

Sustainable use of raw materials

The Chilean government will continue to invest in the mining sector over the next few years. It aims at optimizing the mining and use of raw materials and reduce the environmental impact. This requires, among other things, improved technical knowledge and well-trained specialists. Germany, on the other hand, is interested in getting access to raw materials in Chile. In this context Germany and Chile have established a raw materials partnership. Joint research activities in this field will be further developed.

Two research projects in collaboration with Chile are being funded under the umbrella of the funding program 'CLIENT II - International Partnerships for Sustainable Innovation' of the Federal Ministry of Research: In its 'Secondary Mining' project, the Technical University Bergakademie Freiberg investigates how important economic strategic raw materials can be recovered from Chilean mining dumps. In addition, technical solutions which lead to a more environmentally friendly storage of residual materials are being developed. On top of resource efficiency, there is a focus on water and natural risk factors.

The Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems is developing a process that can effectively separate mineral raw materials from brines that emerge when geothermal energy is produced. Some CO2-neutral geothermal heat is used in this process. In addition to the separation of mineral raw materials, pure drinking water which is especially scarce in Northern Chile is produced during this treatment of the brines.

The 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 Fraunhofer Gesellschaft in the southern hemisphere.

Funding the cooperation with Chile

To support networking, the International Bureau of the DLR Project Management Agency  every year publishes funding announcements in cooperation with its 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 have become increasingly important.

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

Science and Technology Cooperation (STC) between Germany and Chile

!nternational collaborative projects and the exchange of scientists are funded within the framework of the bilateral cooperation in education and research between Germany and Chile. Upon request, allowances for mobility costs within the framework of a bilateral cooperation project (mobility projects) may be granted. Furthermore, in individual cases, support for bilateral workshops on topics of strategic interest can be provided.

Type of support

As a general rule, support will be given in the form of mobility aid and, in special cases, grants. In general, travel costs incurred by German project participants travelling abroad and the accommodation expenses of foreign project participants staying in Germany will be subsidised by the IB.

Mobility projects

Applications for mobility projects can only be submitted during certain periods following a funding announcement. Funding announcements include bilaterally agreed key areas of focus – with regard to BMBF specialised programmes – and are normally published annually in the summer. The application must be submitted in parallel together with the foreign partner both to the IB and to the Chilean partner organisation (CONICYT).

If a bilateral funding announcement is active, you will find information on the key areas and application procedure here. Before submitting an application, we recommended you to get in touch with Dr. Inge Lamberz de Bayas, the scientific contact person at the IB.

Information on the corresponding programme of the CONICYT in Chile is available for your partner from Chile at the programme website.

Measures to initiate themes of particular interest to the BMBF

In coordination with the International Bureau, in individual cases, bilateral workshops on topics that are of particular strategic interest to the BMBF can also be funded. These workshops are to be geared towards bringing together partners in research areas relating to specialist programmes of the BMBF and of the European Framework Programme for Research. As a general rule, support will be granted in the form of mobility aid and, in special cases, grants (in connection with the preparation and implementation of the workshop).

The conception and preparation of such workshops will take place in coordination with the BMBF. Hence, please contact our specialist Dr. Inge Lamberz de Bayas before applying.