After the inauguration of Javier Miley and the swearing-in of selected ministers, one of the funds that still needs to be filled is the Science and Technology Fund. The latest news indicates that the ministry, which was run by Daniel Vilmos until December 10, will become a state ministry called “Innovation, Science and Technology.” Initially, it will depend on the chief of staff and will be coordinated by fintech entrepreneur Alejandro Cosentino. On the other hand, Laura Toledo – the current director of the Argentine Sectoral Fund (FUnarsec), with a clear production orientation – will take charge of the National Agency for the Promotion of Research, Technological Development and Innovation, which until now was headed by Fernando Perano. Conisit, as he was formerly known, will be under the orders of researcher, veterinarian and cloner Daniel Salamon.
For two weeks, Cosentino – a public accountant and graduate in management at the University of California – organized the transition of the space responsible for managing science and technology in Argentina. He meets in the offices of the Scientific and Technological Pole (based in Palermo, Capa), speaks with the outgoing authorities and prepares the way for what is to come. In contrast to the profile shown by his predecessors (scholars Lino Baraño, Roberto Salvarezza and Vilmos), Cosentino comes from the field of business, specifically from the field of fintech, that is, from those companies that provide digital financial services and products. As the founder and CEO of Afluenta, his bio states that he is known for his “successful financial services management operations in Latin America.”
According to his biographical details, he played modernization roles at American Express and Banco Río. He knows the world of finance and technology, so much so that he has won awards and lectured on the subject. In addition, he is a founding member of the Argentine Entrepreneurs Association (ASEA), the Argentine FinTech Association, and the Ibero-American FinTech Alliance. Without a doubt, The fact of its status as a reference for CyT implies a strategic decision: the government lowers its line and, as in other neoliberal states such as Macri’s, the commercial and technocratic image will be weighted. On the other hand, the promotion of basic and social sciences will lose steam.
In addition to Cosentino and Toledo (who also serves as Vice President of the Argentine Nanotechnology Foundation), María José Martelo, Macrista’s Undersecretary for Modernization, appears to have opportunities to lead as Undersecretary for Innovation. The various decentralized organizations that make up today’s scientific and technological system will depend on this space. The reference is intended for institutions such as Conicet, the National Committee for Space Activities (Conae) or the National Genetic Data Bank.
Privatization, laws and models
At Connisett, as the public is known, the person who will be in charge is Daniel Salamon. A veterinarian and one of the most important Argentine cloners, he will be at the head of a scientific institution that includes no less than 11,000 professional researchers and a similar number of scholarship holders. It will impose, in line with what the Cosentino manuscripts suggest, a commercial profile for the production of scientific knowledge. But so far, it is not known whether the council, as Miley himself predicted during his election campaign, will be privatized or will continue to operate under the state’s orbit.
But the repercussions of privatization are no less evident in other relevant scientific institutions. INVAP, one of the most prestigious institutions in Latin America, was one of those that had been rumored in recent months as a possible target. The company stands out at the international level for developing advanced technology aimed at manufacturing solutions in the fields of nuclear, space, defence, security, environment and medicine. The imprint is clear not only for science and technology, but for all areas of government. The formula is precise: adjust the budget and privatize whenever possible.
It will be necessary to see to what extent the laws passed during the Alberto Fernandez administration can play their role. Containment block to prevent the local scientific and technical system from getting rid of everything that the current ruling party aspires to. We can mention the financing law that guarantees an annual increase in the percentage of gross domestic product until it reaches 1 percent by 2032. On the other hand, the standard linked to the 2030 Agenda (widely discussed in multiple sectors of society) that defines the strategic lines and priorities that should be strengthened.
With the changes, it remains to be seen what will happen to robust projects in full implementation, e.g The national anti-Covid vaccine “Arvac Cecilia Grierson”; The Tronador 2 satellite launcher manufactured by Kunai; Lithium-related developments led by Y-TEC (owned by YPF and Conicet); Or the future of CAREM: the first nuclear reactor to be designed and manufactured on local soil, coordinated by the National Atomic Energy Authority.
In current societies, both left and right governments recognize the need to maintain the production of scientific knowledge. Even powers that Miley admires, such as Israel or the United States, know how important it is to support policies aimed at boosting this sector. So, if you’re going to imitate the good ones, at least imitate the good ones.
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