Wageningen UR and its Chilean knowledge partners are to receive 17 million dollars from the Chilean government for nutrition research.
In collaboration with six Chilean knowledge institutions and eight companies, Wageningen UR is establishing the ICEFood institute with the aim of increasing the capacity for innovation of Chilean food production companies. Chile is the world's biggest fruit exporter, the second biggest exporter of salmon and a major wine producer. Besides strengthening these three sectors, Chile also wants to modernize its food industry and increase the added value of products. Two particular targets for improvement are the avocado and quinoa production chains.
It is with this aim in mind that Wageningen UR and its Chilean partners are setting up ICEFood, the International Centre of Excellence for the Food Industry in Chile. This is a virtual institute with a small office in Chile and researchers stationed both in Chile and in Wageningen, working on topics ranging from nutrition and health to food safety, logistics and quality maintenance in the fruit trade, and consumer behaviour.
A total of 43 million dollars is tied up in this research collaboration, which will span ten years. The Chilean government will pump 17 million dollars into the centre, and Wageningen UR will be contributing 16 million dollars to research. 'This is research that is either already running or due to start soon, and which is funded by EU or Dutch funds, for example', explains Peter Zuurbier, prospective director of ICEFood. The Chilean knowledge partners between them will fund research projects to the tune of seven million and the Chilean business sector will contribute three million.
The agreement is an outcome of the visit of the Chilean president Michelle Bachelet to Wageningen in 2009, when Wageningen UR was earmarked as a preferred partner. After the visit, the details of the collaboration framework, the participants, the lines of research to be pursued, and the projects, were worked out. Zuurbier, director of the Latin American Office at Wageningen UR, has already moved to Sao Paulo near Santiago in Chile. Wageningen UR's Brazil office will now be run by Stephanie Ruiter.