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Science Trust backs changes to bill addressing its future

The Science Trust is a government agency that receives funding through the Puerto Rico Industrial Development Company and from the money collected through the rum excise tax. (Credit: © Mauricio Pascual)

The Puerto Rico Science and Technology and Research Trust on Monday expressed its support of the amendments agreed to related to House Bill 1122, saying they include the input of the entity’s trustees and support its mission.

The amendments reaffirmed, among other points, that the Trust is a private nonprofit that is an agent of promotion — including investment and financing — for activities that strengthen scientific research that enable industrial innovation for the benefit of Puerto Rico’s economic development.

The changes to the bill that sought to shake up the Trust’s board and management team, now provide a process of continuity to the ongoing work and strengthen governance by retaining the existing private trustees and its Chief Executive Officer. It also boosts the presence and relevance of the private sector and increases the number of private trustees on its Board from six to nine, keeping the present mechanism to name executives.

House Bill 1122 also adds additional tools to strengthen the capacity to shore up external funds to the Trust. However, security new external funds will not substitute the government’s commitment, but will create synergies with government investments, resulting in new capabilities and programs, Trust officials said Monday.

“These additional capabilities are an example of how joint efforts through collaboration between government and the private sector can facilitate the transition to an innovation-based economy,” said Gil Medina, private trustee and vice-chairman of the Trust’s Board on behalf of the nonprofit.

“The Trust’s team is committed to continue advancing the view that Puerto Rico will become a global hub for innovation to develop, attract and retain world-class scientists, companies and entrepreneurs to boost our competitiveness and creativity,” he said.

Some of the anchor initiatives of the Trust’s strategic plan that have been developed and implemented in recent years are:

  • Global accelerator Parallel 18, which has benefited some 100 companies from 15 countries with seed funding and training;
  • The Puerto Rico Clinical Research Consortium, which already connects 22 research centers, with nine active studies and 50 hired researchers;
  • The Puerto Rico Brain Trust for Tropical Disease Research & Prevention initiative, whose work with local and international experts allowed receiving a grant of $15 million per year for five years, from the U.S. Center for Disease Control to create the Puerto Rico Vector Control Unit;
  • The Research Grants Program, which aside from subsidizing more than 50 researchers in various strategic sectors, it has facilitated the creation of six companies and seven new patents, in addition to getting $5 million in additional research investment;
  • Colmena 66, a program and digital platform that connects the island’s business ecosystem and has achieved more than 7,000 connections between entrepreneurs and the resources they need to boost their business; among other projects.

“We therefore urge legislators to support and pass the points outlined above to solidify the Trust’s role as an agent of economic development through science, technology and innovation,” Medina said.

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

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