With the presence of the Intendant of Chile’s Maule Region, Mr. Pablo Meza, the Minister of Agriculture, Mr. Carlos Furche, wine industry representatives, members of academia and universities, and important players in the world of innovation and research, the panel on “The wine industry and innovation: A necessary leap for the sustainability of the sector” was held.
This activity converted the CRI’s Extension Center into a meeting place to discuss the challenges facing the wine industry and its long-term vision, as well as how various government and private entities are contributing in the field of innovation.
Additionally, having has been in operation for two years, and with more than 50 research projects which aim to generate a positive impact on the Chilean wine industry, the Center opened its doors to present its facilities —which include a new Molecular Biology Laboratory— and its main research areas and projects.
“We’re facing a scenario of increasing global competition, and as such, the relevance of research, innovation and new technologies is that it enables us to improve the productivity of the industry. This is the main challenge for the Center; identifying key research to support and increase our competitiveness. Due to the magnitude and relevance that the Winery has acquired, we needed to strengthen and accelerate innovation to remain at the forefront in the coming decades,” noted Rafael Guilisasti, Chairman of the Board of the Center for Research and Innovation.
Strategic Public-Private Partnerships.
The Winery faced this challenge by addressing the issue in a radical way. To achieve this, it opted for the Maule Region, which is located in the heart of the wine industry, to develop this Center, and in this way also support decentralization. Furthermore, it has enabled a positive contribution to be made to its immediate environment, made up by its employees, grape growers, suppliers, universities and surrounding communities, sharing applied knowledge with the industry and contributing directly to improvements in quality of life in the area.
From its origin, it was conceived as a project that would enable the public and private sector to come together, and is covered under the Chilean Economic Development Agency’s (CORFO) R&D Tax Incentive Act, which was a significant stimulus for the investment in this area. Similarly, with a common vision between the public and private sector, the Center applies for resources that co-finance high-impact strategic projects.
On the other hand, through strategic partnerships, it aims to foster and enhance activities, projects and programs that strengthen its mission. An example of this is the partnership with Mercier, the largest grapevine nursery in the world, and the partnership with UC Davis and Pontificia Universidad Católica’s Innovation Center, which has enabled it to successfully implement its strategic plan during its two years of operations.
SPECIFIC RESPONSES TO THE CHALLENGES FACING THE INDUSTRY
Following an intense period of identifying the needs of the industry, the CRI defined a Strategic Research and Development Plan 2020, which groups the projects with which the company will face the challenges of an industry undergoing constant change and reinvention.
Projects such as the use of drones in agricultural tasks, the GRAPPE application and Cabernet Sauvignon clones are among the more than 58 initiatives that are currently in different stages of progress, and which are framed within five Strategic Programs established by the CRI: Strengthening the production area of plant materials; Water resources and scarcity management; Quality assessment of grapes and wines; Instrumentation, automation and IT applications; and New products design.
“This new laboratory will contribute new analytical capabilities, increased quality, productivity, homogeneity and longevity of wines, and its results will impact positively on the company and the global wine industry. We will give healthier and strengthened grapevines back to the vineyard, maintaining productivity for each aptitude and grape variety,” says Gerard Casaubon, director of Viña Concha y Toro’s Center for Research and Innovation.