Science - March 16, 2006

WUR does business in Latin America

Dr Peter Zuurbier of the Management Studies group will finalise research agreements for Wageningen International in various Latin American countries during the next few months. He will also strengthen links with Brazilian researchers.

Wageningen UR already signed an agreement last year with the Brazilian ministry of education, which will finance PhD research of Brazilians in Wageningen. The first researchers will start in Wageningen in September. Zuurbier will spend the coming six months negotiating similar agreements in other Latin American countries.

In Chile an agreement is being prepared with the ministry of science and technology, for about fifty PhD researchers from various Chilean universities. In Argentina, Wageningen UR looks set to sign an agreement this month with INTA, the national agricultural research institute, and the ministry of science and technology will also finance PhD research positions. A similar agreement with the Mexican government is ready to be signed.

How come these countries are so interested in buying knowledge from Wageningen UR? Zuurbier: ‘Wageningen UR has a big reputation in Latin America, because of our scope and the depth of our research. It’s also a tradition in Latin America to do PhD research abroad. We offer the better institutes an opportunity to ally themselves with a prestigious university, which increases their chances of obtaining financing, for instance from the EU framework programmes.’

Zuurbier will also devote part of his time to a guest professorship in management studies in Sao Paolo, where he will work on bio fuels. Brazil has an area as large as the Netherlands with sugar cane, from which ethanol is extracted for use as fuel for cars. Almost three million cars in Brazil already use biofuels such as bioethanol and biodiesel. As the port of Rotterdam is the main entry point to Europe, it is worthwhile for the Netherlands to explore this market, Zuurbier thinks. He hopes that his presence will strengthen joint research on management studies at Wageningen University and the University of Sao Paolo. / JT

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