Whether through the Technical Council for Knowledge and Innovation (COTECI), created by the Mexican Ministry of Foreign Affairs, or through the National Center for Science Communication, reporting to the Dutch government, in both cases the common purpose of both countries is to implement innovative schemes in which innovation, science and technology are conceived as priority actions for institutional promotion and elements of knowledge that articulate the government with society.
Innovation, science, and technology: a strategic component of Mexico's foreign policy
The Technical Council for Knowledge and Innovation (COTECI) - part of the Mexican Agency for International Development Cooperation (AMEXCID), and which was created at the behest of Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard Casaubon - is Mexico’s scientific intelligence body for the incorporation of this discipline in the 21st century Mexican foreign policy.
In highlighting the strategic nature of this body, the Mexican Foreign Minister underlined the way in which "Mexico's economic drive and strategic projects are intimately linked to the development of science, technology and innovation", as well as to the information that these institutions can provide through the Council.
Likewise, Foreign Minister Ebrard Casaubon underlined the importance of the work carried out by Mexico’s embassies abroad to boost the country's economic recovery, as well as to promote the strategic projects currently underway.
“All Mexican embassies can count on the support of COTECI”, said Mexico's head of diplomacy , “to receive information to boost their work in the fields of science, innovation and technology as a springboard for the post-pandemic economic recovery”.
"The pandemic forced us to act faster," said Ebrard Casaubon at a meeting with Mexican ambassadors and consuls earlier this year. In this context, the ability to link institutions and researchers to work together on developments of common interest is essential.
In this regard, the Foreign Minister gave as an example the way in which – thanks to the cooperation between public and private entities both nationally and internationally - Mexico was able to join in the development of a vaccine and to create a ventilator that was then shared with Caribbean countries at the height of the pandemic.
At the same working meeting with ambassadors and consuls, the foreign minister called on them to follow up on the scientific and technological activities carried out in each country where Mexico has a diplomatic mission, and which could be of interest to the country.
Ebrard Casaubon also urged Mexican representatives abroad to identify the institutions and researchers that could potentially become Mexico's interlocutors in the fields of science, innovation and technology, understand how dual projects can be established or how cooperation funds that are not being fully utilised can be better allocated.
In both tasks, the foreign minister reaffirmed, COTECI is not only an unprecedented instrument for Mexico's foreign policy, but is also ideal for identifying the strategic lines that should guide the country's growth and development over the coming years.
The COTECI is an honorary body that brings together some of the most prominent public institutions in the fields of knowledge, innovation and technology. Its members are the Mexican Academy of Sciences, the National Polytechnic Institute (IPN), the IPN's Centre for Research and Advanced Studies, the National Institute of Genomic Research, the National Association of Universities and Higher Education Institutions (ANUIES), and the National Institute of Medical Sciences and Nutrition "Salvador Zubirán".
Dr. Javier Dávila, the Director General of Cooperation Policy at AMEXCID, is also a member of the COTECI. He is also the host of the special sessions that this body holds with renowned members of the scientific community worldwide.
The Council also includes two distinguished researchers as members: Dr. Esther Orozco and Dr. Manuel Dufoo, Scientific Attaché at the Mexican Embassy in France and Director of the Spine Clinic at the Hospital General La Villa in Mexico City, respectively.
Dr. Susana Lizano Soberón, who also heads the Mexican Academy of Sciences, currently serves as President of the COTECI.
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The National Center for Science Communication, aims to strengthen dialogue with society
The National Center for Science Communication in the Netherlands aims to encourage inter-institutional linkage and dialogue between the scientific community and society. It was founded at a time when science is present in everyday life as never before, but also when the complexity of its full understanding causes misunderstandings or blatantly false understandings.
The National Center for Science Communication will stimulate a dialogue between scientists and society while gathering and sharing knowledge to make science communication more effective, Robbert Dijkgraaf, Minister of Education, Culture and Science, has assured.
Since his arrival to the cabinet of Prime Minister Mark Rutte's fourth government, the newly appointed Minister of Education, Culture and Science, Robbert Dijkgraaf, made it clear that one of his priorities would be the creation of a National Center for Science Communication.
Dijkgraaf, former director of the prestigious Center for Advanced Study at Stanford University in the United States, has summed up his idea by saying that "the task of science is to become more visible and accessible."
Thus, according to the head of public policy in science and research in the Netherlands, "science communication must ensure an equal dialogue based on understanding and trust."
According to the vision expressed by Minister Dijkgraaf, the development of research itself is just as important as ensuring that the resulting knowledge has a basis for "sharing".
Dijkgraaf, who is also a researcher in mathematical physics, pointed out how essential scientific communication is in his work as a driving force for research. "Research and the sharing of knowledge on effective ways to carry out this dialogue are fundamental," he said when announcing a few months ago the creation of the National Center for Science Communication, a first in the Netherlands.
In recent days, the Dutch government has formalised the launch of this Center with the appointment of its two main leaders, in a dual management scheme. The prestigious researchers and academics Ionica Smeets and Alex Verkade have been appointed to head the Center.
Dr. Ionica Smeets is a professor of science communication at Leiden University and head of the department of Science Communication and Society, where she teaches the homonymous master's specialisation. She is also involved in science communication in columns, books and discussion programs in different media.
Dr. Alex Verkade, on the other hand, is Head of External Relations at the National Directorate for Practice-Oriented Research (SIA), the governing body for science at the national level. Throughout his career, he has been committed to connecting research and society and has worked for over 20 years in science communication, both in practice and in the design of related public policies.
In this context, it is interesting to note that before generating greater volumes of scientific information, the main purpose of this new body is to find channels to stimulate both the dialogue among scientists and between scientists and society.
In this context, Dr. Verkade has expressed that "scientific communication is an important part of a broader movement towards a more open science, in which scientists are also appreciated for their efforts to engage with society".
The Dutch Center thus aims to address the double movement that the science minister has warned about. On the one hand, he pointed out, there is a growing influence of science and of its results on everyone’s daily lives. But, on the other hand, there is also a growing lack of understanding of science.
Therefore, the initiative has a double objective. It aims to create a dynamic in which scientists can better communicate their progress and achievements to each other. But, just as important, the Center will aim at "bridging the gap" between people and their understanding of science, and their trust in it as a way to get solid and certain answers to their daily concerns.
As such, Minister Dijkgraaf's project contributes to the democratization of scientific knowledge and, at the same time, strengthens the foundations of Dutch democracy.
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