Arequipa’s UNSA and Purdue University team to accelerate sustainable solutions

By November 2, 2017

A research and innovation alliance between the Universidad Nacional De San Agustin (UNSA) in Arequipa and Indiana’s Purdue University is in the works.

The partnership, announced by Purdue University on November 1, has been set up with the aim to accelerate the development of sustainable solutions to socioeconomic and environmental challenges in Peru’s Arequipa region. Projects will include the opening of the Arequipa Nexus Institute for Food, Energy, Water and the Environment, the UNSA-Foundry and Tech park, a curriculum development program, and an English language program.

Collaboration with Purdue University, and their Center for the Environment (C4E) situated in Purdue’s Discovery Park in the state of Indiana, will promote proactive interdisciplinary learning into social sciences, food security and safety, water sources and quality, and soil health. C4E, who has in the past partnered with other global institutions, conducts use-inspired science to address these pressing challenges.

“We are thrilled to have found a strategic partner in Purdue and Discovery Park, whose mission and themes dovetail seamlessly with the vision of UNSA,” said Rohel Sánchez, UNSA’s president. “The new alliance will draw on Purdue’s unique expertise, which will foster innovation, solutions and economic prosperity locally and regionally.”

The idea is for Purdue to help UNSA build their own technology park and commercialization hub, similar to Purdue’s Discovery Park, where students and faculty can combine forces to kickstart entrepreneurial ideas into actions. Over 70 staff members from the American university have already initiated several research projects with UNSA students, and planning of the Nexus Institute building, to be located in the Majes agricultural valley of Arequipa, is underway. The building’s equipment will include “state-of-the-art instrumentation, conference facilities and residential quarters for visiting scientists.”

Possible long-term collaboration

Further plans for possible technology transfer program between the two universities are also in discussion.

Professor of geochemistry and soil science at Purdue University and interim director of C4E, Timothy Filley, will be working closely with Henry Gustavo Cornejo Polanco, professor and dean of the School of Process Engineering at UNSA overseeing the project.

Filley commented “The institute’s long-term goal is to serve as the reference point for Latin American research on sustainable watershed management, agricultural innovation and development, soil and water quality assessment, science-based decision-making, and agro-economic development through interdisciplinary research.”

Sánchez told La República that the new technology park will prioritize projects that have won competitions organised by the National System of Science and Technology and Technological Innovation (Concytec), one of Peru’s leading science and innovation institutions.

UNSA, a public university in southern Peru, trains high-quality professionals to be competitive and capable agents of change and development in society. The emphasis of study is on research and analysis into solving problems that impact the environment of the region, and the country of Peru.

The southern region of Peru where UNSA is located, with diverse terrain, ecology, and rich mineral reserves, presents huge opportunity for prosperity, but poses monumental threats to its regional environmental developments. Straining of resources, and land degradation, stresses the urgent nature of this and similar alliances to understand the surrounding environment and develop sustainable solutions.