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DDEC grants $1M to UPR-RUM to promote agricultural collabs

The incentive supports research and the development and modernization of agriculture.

Puerto Rico’s Department of Economic Development and Commerce (DDEC, in Spanish) has granted the University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez, (known as RUM), a $1 million incentive to promote creative work and basic and applied research through the Center for Agro-industrial Innovation and Technology (CITAI, in Spanish). The funding is to meet the needs of the agricultural ecosystem and the value-added food chain, both locally and internationally.

The collaborations facilitated by this grant are designed to provide training, technical support, development of new products and incubation of emerging companies. The investment will transform CITAI’s governance model to ensure its self-sustainability.

Additionally, modern equipment and machinery will be purchased, facilities will be expanded and a contingency plan will be developed, school officials said.

“The government of Puerto Rico is committed to continuing to design and implement innovative initiatives in the field of research and development to position our island as the Caribbean center of the agricultural and agroindustrial sector,” said DDEC Secretary Manuel Cidre.

“This is part of its diversified economic development plan that includes the modernization of agriculture and achieving food sustainability,” he noted.

Cidre emphasized that research and development, knowledge creation, commercialization and intellectual property protection are crucial to supporting and maintaining a healthy innovation ecosystem.

“This agreement with CITAI is consistent with our interest in achieving the transfer of discoveries from the laboratory to the market, a key element on the path to innovation and economic vitality. We share the mission of promoting a world-class agribusiness through associations and research that lead to commercialization and contribute to the growth and socioeconomic well-being of Puerto Rico,” Cidre added.

RUM Rector Agustín Rullán-Toro noted that CITAI provides the food and beverage industry in Puerto Rico with the “necessary knowledge, resources and technology to strengthen its position and be more competitive within Puerto Rico, but also to prepare it for exporting, which is one of the activities that seeks to promote an economy that develops the agro-industrial workforce and promotes economic development on the island.”

“This agreement between the RUM and the DDEC will serve as seed and fertilizer to achieve this. Collaboration between government, academia and industry is essential to contribute to the well-being of society, encouraging high-quality research in areas that are relevant to the growth, development and sustainability of CITAI,” Rullán-Toro said.

“This will support scientists, engineers and technical experts to carry out their projects, benefiting our economy and society through exchange, learning and effective practice,” he added. “The recent disasters showed us the importance of food products being produced locally and of creating a cutting-edge infrastructure that is efficient to quickly address the challenges that arise, including those related to emergencies.”

The agreement also focuses on converting agricultural raw materials into value-added products, generating income and jobs, and promoting science, high-quality standards and technology.

The implementation will cover areas such as corporate configuration, governance and administration, facilities and equipment, marketing and business development, and pro-economic development programs.

The work plan includes establishing the roles and responsibilities of the talent to be hired, identifying projects and investment, and evaluating initiatives to modernize and optimize infrastructure, thereby increasing the competitiveness of the agro-industrial sector.

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This story was written by our staff based on a press release.

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