Astronomical industry

Chile looks to capitalize on astronomy boom

Chile’s Economy Minister announces the creation of an Industrial Liaison Officer to help local businesses meet the needs of international astronomical consortiums. 

Thursday, June 28, 2012 Category: Business
Artist's impression of the European Extremely Large Telescope, which will be the largest optical/inf Artist's impression of the European Extremely Large Telescope, which will be the largest optical/infrared telescope in the world. Photo courtesy of ESO/L. Calçada.

In June, the world’s largest astronomical project took another step toward its realization, when the governing council of the European Southern Observatory (ESO) gave final approval for European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT) to be built atop Cerro Armazones in Chile’s Atacama Desert.


Expected to shine light on some of the biggest mysteries of the universe, including; alien life, habitable planets, dark matter and dark energy, the E-ELT is projected to require an investment of up to US$ 1,320 million and to come online by 2020.


The project will be the latest installment of Chile’s world leading astronomical infrastructure - attracted to the Andean nation by the night skies of its vast northern deserts, free from humidity, pollution and light.


Chile’s academic community has been active in making the most of the opportunities arising from these international projects, and now, the Chilean Ministry for the Economy, Development and Tourism, is looking to engage Chilean businesses with the country’s “astronomy boom.”


"Chile has a unique advantage in this area, that we need to build upon,” Juan Manuel Santa Cruz, head of the ministry’s Innovation Division, told Diario Financiero.


“In the next ten years, 70 percent of the world’s astronomical observation capacity will be based here, and the development of all these projects will generate an interesting demand for services and the possibility to develop new business," he said.


Santa Cruz’s comments came as Economy Minister Pablo Longueira announced the creation of the Industrial Liaison Officer (ILO), who will be charged with connecting Chilean businesses with international astronomical consortiums and help design policy for the industry.


The ILO, who is expected to be named this month, will form part of Innovation Division.


“[This position] will allow us to connect the big astronomical consortiums with Chilean businesses, to get the most from, and fully take advantage of, the business opportunities that this sector generates,” Santa Cruz said. 

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