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OCR for page 89
Matching Fund Program for Scientific Research El Consejo Nacional De Ciencia Y Tecnología (CONACyT) Oscar Vázquez, CONACyT This short paper presents the form in which the Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnología (CONACyT) funds scientific research in Mexico. CONACyT is the Mexican federal agency in charge of promoting scientific and technological development. Two of its main programs are providing research funds for the academic community and providing fellowships for graduate training both in Mexico and in foreign countries. In this essay, the current funding options are described. Due to a lack of funds to meet the growing needs of the Mexican scientific community, alternate ways to fund research and development have been sought. In the past, there was one national call for proposals. A committee made up of scientists and CONACyT staff selected at least two scientists to review each proposal. Although normally the scientists came from Mexico, foreign reviewers are also called on regularly. Once the reviews are received, the proposals are reviewed by the appropriate committee (i.e. Earth Sciences, Biological Sciences, etc.). The proposals are rated according to their reviews, and depending on the current financial situation, proposals are funded (i.e., it is possible for an individual proposal to have a high rating, but not to be funded due to lack of funds). Thus, under the new law on science and technology (Ley de Ciencia y Tecnología) CONACyT has started a program known as Matching Funds that has allowed it to increase the available financial resources for scientific and technological research in Mexico. The Science and Technology Law (LCyT) promotes decentralization ensuring the development of scientific and technological activities in all states. This is particular important for Mexico, as more than 50% of scientific research is conducted in the Mexico City area. Thus, the LCyT is trying to increase the scientific base throughout Mexico, including the Yucatan Peninsula. The LCyT has identified four sources of funding including: international collaborative funds, institutional funds, federal matching funds, and state or municipal matching funds. Matching Funds promote scientific and technological development at the regional, state and municipal level, through the contribution of resources from CONACYT as well as from state and municipal governments. The specific objectives of the Matching Funds are: a) to facilitate the decentralization of scientific and technological activities, b) to enhance the development of human resources and research facilities regionally, and c) to collaborate with the state governments in the setting of their research agenda. The Matching Funds Program works in the following way: individual states or municipalities are encouraged to identify regional or local problems that can be resolved 89

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through the use of science. CONACyT provides up to 70% of the funds and the individual state (or municipality) provides anywhere between 30 to 50% of the additional funds. The individual states, working closely with the state and/or regional CONACyT representatives invite the academic community and society as a whole to present to them the priority areas of research. The input from these meetings is used to approach different ministries (such as the Secretary of the Environment, Natural Resources and Fisheries) to seek additional funds for the state priorities. Once the state decides on its priorities, a call for proposals to address the regional or local needs is sent out. Scientists from local, regional, and national universities may apply for these funds, as well as scientists from private research institutions, private universities, industry, and other organizations that have previously registered in the National Register of Scientific and Technological Institutions (RENIECYT). Proposals are sent out for peer-review and a panel evaluates the reviews and assigns funds to the best proposals. Figure 1 illustrates how CONACyT has been able to increase the research funds. GOVERNMENT OF THE STATE REGIONAL PRIORITIES NATIONAL FUNDS COUNCIL OF SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY STATE PRIORITIES OTHER SOURCES Figure 1 Matching Funds Program. 90