Colombia Purdue Initiative — CPI

A mutualistic relationship between Colombia and U.S. for Nanotechnology


The 2nd Colombia-U.S. Nanotechnology workshop was held in Universidad de Los Andes on February 14-15, 2017. Nanotechnology experts from both countries met to discuss state-of-the-art characterization, metrology, manufacture, and safety techniques. Before explaining more details about this conference, it is important to give the reader some context on how this initiative was born.


The Colombia-Purdue Initiative (CPI) emerges from the need of forming human talent appropriate for Colombia's priorities and aligned with Purdue ongoing research programs. With this in mind, the Colombia-U.S. nanotechnology workshops were created as a joint effort that aims to build a research community that addresses questions specific to Colombia's needs, and facilitate the return of the human capital that is being trained abroad in the Nanotechnology field. Purdue professor and co-leader of this initiative, Dr. Arvind Raman, explains the core pillars of the workshops: "The DNA of the Colombia-U.S Nanotechnology workshop series is that it brings together local industries, public decision-makers, and researchers to leverage investment in nanotechnology. It also has a very clear education mission and social inclusion component." Other co-leaders in this effort from the very beginning have been Dr. Franklin Jaramillo Isaza (Universidad de Antioquia), Dr. Alba Ávila (Universidad de los Andes), and Dr. Pedro Prieto (Universidad del Valle).

The first Colombia-U.S. nanotechnology workshop was held in Medellín, Colombia in 2013, and was mainly funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) under the program Catalyzing New International Collaborations (CNIC). Other sponsors were the Office of Naval Research (ONR), Empresas Públicas de Medellín (EPM), Purdue University and Universidad de Antioquia. The event was focused on Energy and Medical applications of Nanotechnology. With more than 300 people registered and representation from more than 15 Colombian institutions, this workshop was highly successful. Its principal outcomes were the formation of several partnerships between Colombian and American institutions for research and education in nanomaterials, nanoparticles and nanomedicine; and the inception of Proyecto Interchange, a strategy that brings nanotechnology and science to middle and high school students from marginalized neighborhoods in Medellín.

U.S. and Colombian participants of the 1st Nanotechnology Workshop in Medellín, Colombia, 2013


2nd Colombia-U.S. Nanotechnology workshop

In 2013, Colombia started the process of joining the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) where chemical safety and management is a priority. The 2nd Colombia-U.S. Nanotechnology workshop was organized to coincide with this process. Its goal was to bring together experts from industry, government and academia to strengthen their relationship, work together on potential nanotechnology applications, discuss challenges of scaling-up pilot tests, and develop a protocol for regulation and control of nanomaterials.

A U.S. Office of Naval Research and U.S. Army Research and Development Command grant and the Colombian National Learning Service (SENA) sponsored the event. Dr. Alba Ávila, from Universidad de Los Andes, chaired the organizing committee and was assisted by a technical committee, which was composed by more than fifteen experts in the field. Some of its members were Dr. Arvind Raman, Dr. David Janes (Purdue University), Dr. Gerald Lopez (University of Pennsylvania) and Dr. Candace   Tsai (Colorado State University). "This international participation demonstrates the strong Science and Technology relationship between the North and South communities," says Dr. Ávila.

Poster session and networking time at Universidad de Los Andes. Check out the workshop website for more details and pictures!

The two-day workshop consisted of four panel discussions, twenty talks, two networking activities focused on characterization, metrology, manufacturing and safety of nanomaterials. Over 260 people attended. There was representation from academia and research centers (Universidad del Valle, Universidad Nacional, SENA, SENNOVA, Universidad del Rosario, Universidad Central, Universidad Jorge Tadeo Lozano, Purdue University, Colorado State University, University of Oxford, and University of Pennsylvania, and KOL Network), local and international industry (Grupo   Nutresa, Sumicol, Inversiones Cascabel, Kemtek, ICONTEC, AzoNano and FEI Technology de Mexico), and the Colombian and international governments (Ruta N, U.S. Office of Naval Research, U.S. Embassy in Colombia, OECD, INMETRO, Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development, Superintendence of Industry and Commerce and Colombian Metrology Institute).

The main outcomes of the event were four: 1) recognizing a common interest in the creation of a seed fund to support multi-university research, 2) the generation of a national inventory of infrastructure and facilities, 3) a road map for key applications and projects with industry, and 4) the willingness from Universidad del Valle, in collaboration with Purdue University, to host the 3rd Colombia-U.S. Nanotechnology workshop in 2019. “The level of engagement from students, professors and administrators from Colombian universities, along with participation by companies and government agencies, reflects a healthy interest in an innovation ecosystem employing nanotechnology. The workshop helped to identify key focus areas and catalyze partnerships in research and education,” says Dr. Janes, Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Purdue.

It was concluded that Colombia faces the following challenges regarding nanotechnology research: 1) funding opportunities and investment, 2) infrastructure, and 3) dialogue between academia, government, and industry. We are thrilled to witness a new phase in the relationship between Colombia and the United States towards the advancement of research, education and applications of nanotechnology in both hemispheres. 


Participants of the 2nd Nanotechnology workshop in Bogotá, Colombia, 2017.



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