What are the priorities of science in Cuba?

Each year, the Cuban scientific community prepares to participate in the Programs of Science, Technology and Innovation (CTI) in the interest of generating and applying knowledge in finding solutions to concrete problems of society.

The Ministry of Science, Technology and Environment (CITMA) left open the timing of the announcement for the 2016 Plan and invited their institutions to contribute to the presentation of scientific projects from November 28 until February 28 next year. The evaluation and approval will take place in several stages until April 30, 2015, while hiring will run until mid-May with the executing agencies.

But how these problems are defined? How to know that some are more urgent than others? And what are the CTI programs?

Ulises Fernández Gómez, Director of Science, Technology and Technological Innovation of CITMA explained that “Programs are a set of research projects, development and innovation that are interrelated in a multidisciplinary way. These are formed when the solution to a problem requires more than one project due to its complexity and involves the integration of scientific, educational and productive entities for its execution “.

For this process, the state allocates a Pooled Fund for Science and Innovation (FONCI by its Spanish acronym) consisting of 90 million pesos. On the subject Fernández Gómez said that they cannot yet feel the real value of this capital to purchase necessary inputs, since the dual currency has a negative impact on it.

He also said that the character of FONCI is “non-returnable” but that in the near future projects must be designed to be profitable and ensure continuity of funding for research.

The appropriateness or otherwise of the projects, in addition to a rigorous evaluation by the agreement with the eight priorities of Cuban science and are supported on the policy guidelines 131, 133 and 137 of the Communist Party of Cuba.

The priorities are:

1- Food for Population and Animals

2-rational use of energy. Emphasis on renewable

3-Fighting climate change

4-Strategy of Physical Planning

5-Development of Computerization and Automation

6- Integral Population Development. Demographic changes

  1. Handling Water

8- Satellite Technology

2015-2016 Projects and programs

So far there are 16 CTI programs running with more than 2548 scientific projects. For the next period 2015-2016 seven new programs are added which together with the above contribute to securing the main lines of economic and social development of the country.

The heads of Programs can call or ordering from specific institutions, although the scientific community has the initiative to participate in the development of biotechnology, pharmaceutical production, software industry, and natural sciences, renewable energy, nanosciences and social and educational technologies .

They may also include comprehensive environmental studies for the conservation and wise use of natural resources and study the results for decision making in the country.

Among the objectives of Programs import substitution are prioritized, improve food quality and conservation, encourage local development, value engineering proposals for earthquake-resistant buildings and promote human values and vocational training in schools. It is also an important element computer security and technological sovereignty, and the expansion of services and applications development.

However, in the changing Cuban society self-employed people are not included to participate in this open call to the scientific community. Licensed computer programmers, for example, may not include their proposed solutions to problems since cooperatives in this sector are not allowed, said Dr.. Ailyn Febles, Head of Development Program of the Cuban Software Industry.

Another element that undermines the proper conduct of the call for submission of projects is based on the lack of coordination between agencies and scientific bodies, which sometimes work separately on identical lines of inquiry, when they could pool resources and expertise for the same purpose.

At the opening of the call also transcended the need for better allocation of funds as resources for scientific research, prototyping, technology purchases and other necessary elements for strict compliance projects. Because, after all, investing in science and knowledge of a country guarantees its social future.

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