Michelle Bachelet, president of Chile, Linda P.B. Katehi, chancellor of the University of California, Davis, and U.S. Ambassador Michael A. Hammer today (April 21) opened the UC Davis-Chile Life Sciences Innovation Center in Santiago, Chile. With a projected budget of $12 million over its first three years, the center will foster collaborative work among experts from UC Davis and Chile aimed at transforming public-sector research into regional, national and global business opportunities.

The center is funded through a grant from the Corporación de Fomento de la Producción de Chile, or CORFO, the country’s economic development agency, and industry and university partner cost-sharing. Research would take place at UC Davis and partner institutions. The center is led by founding Executive Director Alan B. Bennett, distinguished professor of plant sciences at UC Davis.

The center’s long-term goal is to support research, development and economic competitiveness in Chile and California with a focus on the agricultural industry, including plant breeding, postharvest and climate-change technologies.

Agriculture is the second largest industry for Chile. California is the world’s fifth largest supplier of food and agricultural commodities, and UC Davis consistently achieves top ranking for its agricultural programs.

“UC Davis has had a long history of collaboration with Chile, and the Life Sciences Innovation Center now adds to that legacy,” said Katehi. “We look forward to the tremendous discoveries and economic opportunity that will be the hallmark of this new center.”

The new partnership would accelerate the transfer of discoveries into commercial products, create new opportunities in the global economy and strengthen a relationship between Chile and California that began in 1963. The two partners share a Mediterranean climate conducive to producing similar food crops, but have alternate growing seasons, allowing for a vibrant international trade in fresh fruits and vegetables.

A group of more than 50 Chileans who studied agricultural sciences at UC Davis during the 1960s and 1970s are widely credited with helping to transform Chile into one of the world's leading fresh-fruit exporters.

UC and the UC Davis campus have continued to launch collaborative research projects with Chile in such areas as seed biotechnology, grape growing and wine making, and water management. President Bachelet visited the UC Davis campus in 2008.

The new center would work with participating universities, research institutions and industry to identify opportunities and set priorities for research and development activities that address industry needs. Working with its local partner will allow the UC Davis center to provide short and long-term solutions to industry and facilitate innovation.

UC's Global Food Initiative

UC Davis is participating in UC’s Global Food Initiative launched by UC President Janet Napolitano, harnessing the collective power of UC to help feed the world and steer it on the path to sustainability.