Nearly three years after Chilean scientists took to the streets of their country in protest of poor working conditions and career prospects, their government has approved the creation of a science ministry, ScienceInsider reports. Gonzalo Blumel, the country's minister secretary-general of the presidency cited the government's ambitions to "bring Chile towards an information and knowledge society" when he announced the decision.
Scientists in Chile cheered the vote, but are also waiting to see what kind of budget the new ministry will receive, ScienceInsider notes. The bill that created the ministry claims that Chile is one the leaders in scientific research in the region, but the country only spent less than one half of 1 percent of its GDP on R&D in 2014, the article says.
The country's science funds are currently managed by Chile's National Commission for Scientific and Technological Research, an agency of the Ministry of Education, which had a budget of about 328 billion Chilean pesos ($520 million) last year. But research spending is split between multiple programs. The new law will create a National Agency for Research and Development that will replace this commission, as well as a group of eight external advisers to counsel the government on the assignment of science funding, ScienceInsider reports.
Researchers have made it clear that they want one of their peers to become the first science minister, but no names have yet been put forward.