Today, at the Centro Cultural La Moneda –in downtown Santiago–, Inria Chile celebrated its first decade in the country, with nearly 200 attendees, including representatives of the universities with which it has worked, members of the industry and strategic partners throughout these years. The ceremony was headed by the CEO of Inria Chile, Nayat Sánchez-Pi, the Deputy CEO for Science of Inria, Jean-Frédéric Gerbeau, and Deputy CEO for Innovation of Inria, François Cuny. In addition, representatives of the Chilean Government were part of the event: the Executive Vice President of CORFO, José Miguel Benavente, and the Minister and Undersecretary of the Science, Knowledge, Technology and Innovation Ministry, Silvia Díaz and Carolina Gaínza, who delivered their words telematicly.
The ceremony included a keynote address by the Deputy CEO for Science of Inria, Jean-Frédéric Gerbeau; the launch of a book of the 10 years of the organization in Chile and of 4 of Inria's white papers in Spanish, and the conversation panel, "Future challenges of digital sciences & technologies". The event also had 10 stands with demonstrations of the most outstanding technologies that have been developed by the center in Chile.
The history of Inria in Chile began in 2012, when it arrived in Santiago through the Centers of International Excellence for Competitiveness Attraction program, which since 2021 became part of the National Research and Development Agency (ANID).
On behalf of the Chilean Government, the Executive Vice President of CORFO, José Miguel Benavente, congratulated Inria Chile and pointed out the government's commitment to maintain this relationship: “Having the capacities that have been developed, particularly in an institution like Inria, is tremendously important to be able to request, in the strictest sense of the word, the availability of those resources with the support of public financing to carry out an agenda based on deliver concrete solutions for those missions and challenges that we have as Chileans”.
Likewise, the head of the Science Ministry, Silvia Díaz, indicated that the institute “has been fundamental in what we, as a ministry propose, to promote Chile as a great booster in matters of science, technology, knowledge and innovation. We are very happy that they have settled in our country and have achieved such fruitful cooperation”.
The CEO of Inria in France, Bruno Sportisse, also sent words to the Chilean center: “I want to confirm Inria's willingness to support the development of Inria Chile, to maintain its ability to implement high-level projects in our areas [...] I also believe, and I am convinced, that this has to mean that we have to build new ways of associating with our Chilean partners through Inria Chile. I'm very excited about that."
The numbers of the center in the R+D ecosystem during this decade speak for themselves: more than 190 national, regional and Franco-Chilean R+D projects, a network of 650 national and international collaborating researchers, more than 200 thesis students and interns and more than 90 national startups that have been supported by the entity.
The mission of Inria Chile, since the beginning, has been to insert itself into the ecosystem with the commitment to carry out research of excellence, and high-impact innovation, for which it works collaboratively with the main universities and research and innovation centers in the country, with 24 agreements in place, and 668 people trained at Inria Academy, seeking to contribute to the strengthening of international scientific-technological cooperation and the transfer of knowledge by forming advanced human capital.
In this regard, the CEO of Inria Chile, Nayat Sánchez-Pi, pointed out that “we hope to continue to be main players of the R+D ecosystem for at least another 10 years. What moves us is to contribute to the development of the entire society, making production processes more efficient, reducing the impact on the environment and making daily life more bearable. That is why we do science, and we are going to continue doing so”.
Decade of outstanding projects
Inria Chile's research area are Artificial Intelligence, Internet of Things, Data Science, Interaction and Visualization, Modeling and Simulation, and Security and Confidentiality. Throughout these 10 years, many projects have been developed crosswise and have made possible to generate important results to solve high-impact problems in Latin America.
Many of them are linked to priority areas such as agriculture, mining, and astronomy, or to combating global challenges such as the recent Covid-19 pandemic, protecting the oceans and mitigating the effects of climate change.
For this reason, some of the most outstanding initiatives were presented at the celebration:
List of projects
Thanks to LOVE, the LSST project will enable its telescope operators to effectively display pertinent data, monitor observations, and control the various systems throughout the scheduled 10-year operation. LOVE was designed as a system of flexible user interfaces capable of displaying different components and information depending on the needs and preferences of the operator. This configurability allows users to easily navigate from high-level information with little detail to low-level information with a lot of detail.
Is a project that incorporates cutting-edge technology, such as the Internet of Things and Artificial Intelligence, to predict climatic events like frosts and, thus, mitigate the harsh effects on the productivity of the agroindustry in the country, the communities that base their way of life on this activity, and the loss of crops and food. It has 2 pilots working in a field of cherries in Parral and another in a field of grapes on land property of Concha y Toro vineyards.
Tsunami Lab is a web simulator that reproduces tsunamis in historical scenarios (a real past event) and synthetic scenarios (configurable fictitious events) visualizing in the graphical interface the propagation of waves generated by the respective earthquake, in time and space. This application is based on the following tools: the ReactJS library for the implementation of the graphical interface –under the reactive programming paradigm; the Three.js library. for the display of 3D animations based on WebGL –API to accelerate animations with GPU; the Browni library, in charge of modeling the physical event; and finally, the USGS earthquake catalog, which provides specific information on parameters associated with the respective events.
Strategic Control Panel (CMB)
Since 2018, it facilitates the real-time location of Santiago's public transport buses. Therefore, for the first time, the Transantiago Bus Monitoring Center (CMB) has a strategic and intelligent control panel that displays information on the exact position of the buses, their frequencies, incidents and other critical parameters for the service. The project is benefiting the users of the 34 communes of the Metropolitan Public Transportation System. Within the framework of the project, Inria Chile developed an interactive software platform that provides an overview of traffic in Greater Santiago and the critical points of the total area in which the fleet operates.
AirWARD (proyect with the startup Drovid)
A joint project that took up the challenge to develop, together with Drovid, artificial intelligence models for the automatic detection of sources of fire and smoke from RGB and thermal cameras installed in unmanned aerial vehicles. The incorporation of frontier technology will help mitigate the impact of forest fires in Chile, one of the greatest threats to ecosystems, economic activity, and human and animal life in the context of the climate crisis
First Spin-off of Inria Chile. EVoting is a Chilean startup dedicated to electronic voting services that has voting tools that allow remote and secure electronic voting, and guarantees the secrecy and integrity of the vote. Today, EVoting has accumulated experience in more than 2,216 electronic voting, 2 million votes received from all over the world, more than 583 electronic assemblies, and 977 clients in 8 countries.
Oceans plays a key role in the adjustment and maintenance of the biosphere. Through OcéanIA, Inria Chile seeks to develop new artificial intelligence, machine learning and mathematical modeling tools to help understand the structures, underlying mechanisms and dynamics of the relationship between the climate crisis and the oceans. Despite the fact that there is still a lack of data and scientific infrastructure to quantify the consequences of the problems in the marine ecosystem, this project is an opportunity to generate state-of-the-art digital tools and contributions, capable of turning data into knowledge, public policies and effective actions into a global and urgent challenge.
This project aims to design and evaluate a machine learning controller for autonomous sailboats. The objective of EMISTRAL is to investigate the available technologies that allow us to understand, model, predict and act on the global climate crisis. Autonomous sailboats are viable means of collecting the vast amounts of data that a machine learning-based solution requires to address the complex dynamics occurring in oceans and rivers.
Ficzine is an artificial intelligence based Spanish writing assistant. It is specially designed as an educational tool to help school students write more and better short stories or tales. It combines techniques in the state of the art of natural language generation with the knowledge of expert pedagogues to produce original stories based on the ideas and/or experiences of the students. The student enters and must answer questions, designed by education experts, in order to obtain ideas and concepts from which they want to generate a story. Those answers are the input variables of the AI engine, which has a great language model based on Transformers (GPT, BLOOM) pre-trained and adapted specifically for the domain in question, story generation.
FairTrees (project with ECLAC on deforestation)
In collaboration with the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) and the Latin American and Caribbean Coordinating Association of Small Producers and Fair Trade Workers (CLAC-Comercio Justo), Inria Chile works in the preparation of deforestation maps in Chile, and cocoa and coffee producing areas in the region. Machine learning models are developed that compare deforestation trends, using satellite data and data from national agencies.