Opportunities in Engineering & Business – What can STEM do for your?

Opportunities in Engineering & Business – What can STEM do for your?

The Institute of the Americas is collaborating with the San Diego Unified STEAM Leadership Series, the San Diego Unified School District, lead sponsor the Moxie Foundation, and others, in a major event in December 6, 2017, in order to underscore the importance of education in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) to the future careers of the youth of the region – from all sectors of society.

Three-hundred junior high and high school students, many of Latin American origin, with interests in STEM will participate in this event.

Through interactive narratives with the participants, Latin American professionals will showcase their experience and demonstrate how their achievements and personal pathways to success can serve as practical examples and models for students towards achieving their own potential.

The participants will learn about the new high-tech, business, and entrepreneurial STEM careers from exciting and knowledgeable experts.

We aim to inform and inspire high school students from across the San Diego District and Tijuana with the variety of business, research and academic, as well as not-for-profit opportunities offered by the San Diego / Baja California mega region.  Our objective is to enrich and empower these youth to be able to set their own goals and aspirations and to position themselves for the future to take advantage of the richness of opportunities.

Special pilot: As a first for the STEAM Leadership Series, the main sessions and breakouts will be live-streamed to a host of academic institutions in Latin and South America – including, but not limited to, Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Peru, and Uruguay.

International Forum: State, U.S. Economies Depend on Strong Trade Opportunities

International Forum: State, U.S. Economies Depend on Strong Trade Opportunities

Excerpt from CalChamber article

Globally, trade is at a very interesting juncture, Ambassador Jamal Khokhar, president and CEO from the  Institute of the Americas, said to the attendees.

For more than the last half century, the U.S. has led the world in breaking down barriers to trade and in creating a fairer and freer international trading system based on market economics and the rule of law. Increased market access achieved through trade agreements has played a major role in the nation’s success as the world’s leading exporter.

This trend is changing, however, to a more inward view because “large segments of the population have not necessarily benefitted from the gains of trade liberalization that were promised them in the trade agreements,” the Ambassador said.

Ambassador Khokhar explained that it is not the trade agreement’s fault for this predicament. “We are better off with a liberalized trade agenda,” he said. The challenge instead is how to make the trade adjustments in terms of education, job training, job creation, adjusting with new technologies, recognizing that some manufacturing jobs will be lost and new ones created and there’s a balance between the two sides.

Why are trade agreements so difficult to negotiate, the Ambassador asked rhetorically?

“Trade agreements are the only instrument that oblige countries to internalize, ratify into domestic law the agreements reached among countries. So, they are enforceable and there are dispute resolution systems in place,” he said.

It is this package deal that allows countries to load up a variety of topics and problems into a trade agreement. However, the biggest change in trade is new technology, and that is presenting a whole host of new problems.

Global value chains account for 80% of world trade today. Global value chains are companies selling to each other, within the company, or all the people and all of goods from around the world that go into the production of a product or a service.

“In a world where goods, or even cattle cross the border before they’re processed and delivered…how do you define a rule of origin?” Ambassador Khokhar asked. “So global value chains are extremely important and yet our trade agreements are not set up any longer to deal with sophisticated global value chains.”

The debate the world is having about trade and whether it benefits or hurts countries needs to refocus on how technology changes everything.

The Ambassador sympathized that there are people who are hurt, who have lost jobs and explained that we as a society, not necessarily just government, need to think of how to address that and we need to think about how to retrain and create new jobs in some of these new companies.

“Look backwards if you want to, but I think the rest of the world is moving on and I think countries like the U.S. and key states like California control a lot of global leadership,” Ambassador Khokhar said in closing.

Las universidades no son fábricas de startups

Las universidades no son fábricas de startups

Coutesy of PRODEM

En el marco del 7º Seminario Taller Prodem fue entrevistado Carlos Martínez Vela, vicepresidente de Innovación & Entrepreneurship en el Instituto de las Américas.

¿Cuál es el papel de las universidades?

Cuando era estudiante del MIT hace ya varios años, tuvimos un proyecto grande donde hicimos un análisis con 25 casos de estudio, donde consultábamos cuál era el rol de la universidad en el desarrollo económico y, en particular, el papel de la universidad en el crecimiento y transformación de nuevas industrias, de nuevos clúster en ciertas regiones, en distintas áreas.

Un proyecto muy interesante, porque no lo hicimos preguntando a las universidades qué habían hecho, sino que investigamos la trayectoria del desarrollo regional, identificando el camino tecnológico de ciertas industrias y ver a partir de ahí, cuál había sido la contribución de la universidad.

Naturalmente los 25 casos eran todos distintos, sin embargo había temas comunes, y esto se aplica también a Boston, de hecho uno de los casos fue ahí. Y encontramos que el papel fundamental de la universidad en el desarrollo económico es la educación, que si tú le preguntas a un CEO de una compañía de biotecnología en Boston, por qué están alrededor del MIT o Harvard, dicen que es por el talento, no por las patentes. Y aparte de esto, está naturalmente el tema de la investigación, la generación de ideas que son muchas veces la fuente de los productos revolucionarios, a veces no nos imaginamos en el momento actual lo que van hacer en el futuro. La resolución de problemas, la participación de los estudiantes, la facultad, investigadores, colaboraciones que ayudan a resolver problemas en la industria, en la economía o en la sociedad, la diseminación o codificación del conocimiento, a través de la transferencia de tecnología, que es la manera de llevar conocimiento hacia la economía.

Y esta idea de espacio público, el poder de convocatoria que tienen las universidades para juntar actores que a lo mejor no se juntan con facilidad y tener conversaciones sobre el futuro, sobre la economía, sobre la industria, lo cual es muy importante y reconocido.

Esto no significa… obviamente estamos aquí en Prodem con el tema del emprendimiento. Esto no significa que el emprendimiento, los startups y la transferencia de tecnología no sean importantes. Pero quería poner un contexto más amplio. Y en ese sentido, pensar que cuando queremos involucrar a las universidades de una manera más amplia en el desarrollo, hay distintas maneras de hacerlo.

¿Qué se puede se puede esperar y qué no, de una universidad?

No se puede esperar que sean agencias de desarrollo económico, no se puede esperar que salven a la economía regional. Porque son un agente entre muchos otros, sector privado, sector público, gobierno, sociedad civil, etc. Y estos cambios de economías regionales requieren una movilización de los distintos actores en conjunto, para pensar y actuar hacia un futuro económico y social distinto.

Entonces, pensar la universidad dentro de estas funciones, estos roles pero no la salvadora, como un agente muy importante pero no el único.

¿Cómo se traducen los esfuerzos de la investigación al mercado?

Hablando un poco de la traducción de estos resultados de la investigación en economía, como mencionaba en la plática, el MIT tiene un ecosistema interno, donde naturalmente está la oficina de transferencia interna de tecnología, pero está también el centro de prueba de concepto, que se llama “Deshpande Center”, están los premios, las competencias, los clubes estudiantiles, etcétera. Y toda esta infraestructura sirve para brindar este servicio, para que el investigador y los estudiantes que quieran emprender algo, que quieran crear una compañía, licenciar una tecnología, puedan hacerlo. Es un espíritu de servicio, naturalmente esto florece porque hay todo un sistema externo también. En ese sentido, Boston es privilegiada porque ahí se inventó el Venture Capital, en 1946 si no me equivoco. Tiene una concentración de universidades, tiene una cultura emprendedora, grandes compañías, pequeñas compañías, entonces es una sinergia entre lo que pasa adentro de las universidades y lo que pasa afuera de ellas.

Hay que pensar esto en distintos contextos cómo se aplica en todos los contextos. Pero hay ciertos procesos y ciertas funciones que son importantes en todas partes, entonces no necesariamente hay que pensar en replicarse, sino en aprender.

¿En cuanto a reglas?

Hay reglas muy claras y eso es parte del secreto de todo esto. Hay reglas muy claras en cuanto a lo que los profesores pueden y no pueden hacer, cuánto tiempo pueden dedicar a la consultoría versus al trabajo académico, cuánto es el porcentaje de participación que tienen en la startup, cuánto en las licencias. Entonces, esa parte es muy importante, porque parte de lo que estas reglas hacen, es brindar la oportunidad pero también preservar la integridad de la universidad y de la vida académica, que es muy importante también. Las universidades no son fábricas de startups, y es muy importante entender estas reglas para mantener una cierta cultura, porque si orientamos todo a la investigación todas las necesidades inmediatas del mercado, las necesidades conocidas, vamos a perdernos del futuro. Entonces, es importante tener esta infraestructura pero sin olvidar también el tema de la investigación básica que está orientada a cosas que no sabemos cómo se van aplicar en el futuro.

Argentina: Balancing Economic Growth and Energy Infrastructure

Argentina: Balancing Economic Growth and Energy Infrastructure

“We need to show companies and convince them that we have competitive advantages,” Neuquén Governor Omar Gutiérrez said in his opening keynote address at the Institute of the America’s “Energy & the Economy in Argentina” Roundtable on March 30 in Buenos Aires. “If the conditions are not in place, then the resources will remain under the ground.”

Governor Gutiérrez’s remarks are not merely empty rhetoric. Argentina has the potential to become an energy supplier to South America, perhaps even further afield. The country boasts not only some of the world’s largest unconventional oil and natural gas resources, but vast renewable energy sources.

The question, however, is whether the government can create the economic, institutional and legal stability so that it can become economically viable for companies to develop the riches over the long term no matter a political shift in the future.

These issues were at the center of vigorous debate and discussion at the Institute of the Americas’ Roundtable in Argentina both in the formal sessions and sidebar conversations among the almost one hundred attendees from across industry, government and civil society.

Argentina Energy Roundtable panelist discuss the future of energy in the country

There is new hope this can happen with President Mauricio Macri. His conservative administration has taken steps to rebuild investor confidence since coming to power in December 2015. It has ended a 15-year sovereign debt default and scrapped the capital, currency and price controls of his 2003-15 populist predecessors that had sparked a flight of investor dollars and a plunge in energy production that brought shortages and a surge in imports.

The resources are getting developed. Output from Vaca Muerta and a few tight plays is starting to offset the declines in conventional production that cost the country its energy independence of the late 1990s and early 2000s.

Vaca Muerta is on track for more production growth. As part of the landmark deal, BP-controlled Pan American Energy (PAE), Chevron, Dow Chemical, Shell, Total and YPF vowed to invest a combined $5 billion this year and more than double that in subsequent years to develop the play.

Daniel Montamat, executive director of Montamat & Asociados, an energy-consulting firm in Buenos Aires, estimates that the energy industry needs $20 billion a year in investments to rebuild supplies after a decade of shortages – and to keep pace with demand.

Will this come? As long as companies see that the government making progress in improving economic, institutional and legal stability and doing long-term planning, then companies will do their part, he said.

“Once the process gets on track, we are going to be surprised by the investment that will come,” he said.

A challenge for making Vaca Muerta economically viable for production is to bring down drilling and completion costs. YPF has halved its costs to $8 million per well from $16 million when it started in 2013. Most other companies are still above $10 million.

Argentina has another Vaca Muerta in its renewable energy potential, much of which remains undeveloped. While Brazil, Chile, Uruguay and other countries in the region reeled in huge investments to harness their renewable energy capacity over the past decade, Argentina did very little under the 2003-15 populist regimes.

This could be a blessing in disguise for Argentina.

“We don’t have to try new technology” but instead use what has been “proven to work,” said Sebastián Kind, the national undersecretary of renewable energies. “We can learn from the miscalculations and errors” made in other markets.

To attract investors, the Macri administration is increasing power prices and offering opportunities to build solar and wind parks.

Investors appear to be keen. In two tenders so far, Argentina snared commitments for building 2.4 GW of renewable generation capacity. More tenders are planned with the aim of reaching a target of getting 20% of power consumption from renewable sources by 2025, or about 10 GW.

A challenge is to get enough financing for projects a country with a history of economic and political instability and the threat of policy shifts when elections come round every two years, for president and then lawmakers.

Even so, there is a market for more capacity. Argentina’s power demand is expected to increase 3% to 4% per year to 175-180 GW in 2025 from a current 130-135 GW, according to Kind.

The key to satisfying this demand is diversification, said Kind.

“We need to use all of our resources. It is not just Vaca Muerta or wind or solar, or the rivers. It is also nuclear,” he said. “Argentina is a mix. It is not just the cheapest source of energy.”

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