Ecuadorian President Visits, Pursues Knowledge and Collaboration with NCRC

October 31, 2012

Phyllis Beaver
Marketing Director
NC Research Campus
(NC Research Campus, Kannapolis, NC, October 31, 2012)- President Rafael Correa of the Republic of Ecuador and a delegation of ministers spent Tuesday touring each of the 16 university and corporate research programs at the NC Research Campus (NCRC) in Kannapolis.   President Correa and his delegation of over 60 Ecuadorian government officials met with David H. Murdock, founder of the NCRC and toured on campus, and the campus’ lead scientists.

President Correa is looking at the research, scientific instrumentation and collaborative environment of the NCRC as a model to implement in the development of Yachay, a planned city of science and technology being built in Ecuador’s northern province of Imbabura.

“Amazing! Outstanding!” said President Correa. “A learning experience for us. We are building in our country a planned city of knowledge, (and) we want to learn from your experience. This (Yachay) is the biggest project in Ecuadorian history. We are (changing) from a traditional to a knowledge-based economy.”

Ecuadorian Ambassador to the United States Nathalie Cely Suarez, a member of President Correa’s delegation, added, “We’ve seen other knowledge centers all over the world, but we wanted to see something that was close to one of our interests, which is the combination of agriculture, nutrition, science and health. We had the opportunity to see (that) here in way that is fascinating because it is very practical and (has) very concrete applications.”

Yachay broke ground this year and will grow into a center similar to the NCRC where research and innovation from both universities and companies will be tapped as an economic booster and job creator.

One-third of Ecuador is rainforest, and Ecuador is recognized as one of the most biodiverse countries in the world. Research into bioactive compounds in plants, a major focus of many of the NCRC’s partnering institutions and companies, and its application to improve human health, agriculture and food is particularly interesting to the Ecuadorian delegation.

“I think the wealth of Ecuador is still not discovered,” Ambassador Cely Suarez said, “and it does not reside in the oil that we have. It is among our biodiversity. We do have rainforests.  I think the cure for cancer and so many diseases may be there. We just need to discover it.”

One of the centerpieces of Yachay is the new Scientific Experimental University of Ecuador. After touring the Rowan-Cabarrus Community College Biotechnology Training Center located at the NCRC, Ambassador Cely Suarez noted that the delegation was impressed with the idea of offering two-year biotechnology degree programs as an additional educational option.

“In our city, we’ll have a top university with PhD’s and master’s degrees, and but we never thought about also having a two-year degrees in biotechnology,” Ambassador Cely said. “That is something we learned today that we really like.”

The NCRC represents the type of economic change that President Correa is pursuing in Ecuador with investments in science, technology and education. “From this town dedicated to textiles to moving forward to a more knowledge- based activities,” the Ambassador commented, “that is something that brought us here. It is fascinating to see how you have done it in a systematic way.”

Looking ahead, President Correa confirmed his hope for an alliance with the NCRC that could lead to research collaborations and scientific and academic exchanges beginning as early as 2013.

“You wouldn’t think that Ecuador and the NCRC in Kannapolis have anything in common,” said Lynne Scott Safrit, president of the NCRC. “Yet, we both have strong leadership, dedicated champions, investment, a transitioning economy and, we discovered today, very similar research interests. So we are very excited to form new collaborations, especially international collaborations like this one, because the mission of the campus is not only for our community but for the world. We’re looking forward to collaborations with scientists from Ecuador that will generate new and great discoveries.”


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