Accelerating Green Innovation in Latin America

December 23, 2020

As 2020 comes to an end, WIPO GREEN summarizes the progress made during the WIPO GREEN Acceleration Project in Argentina, Brazil and Chile, which has been active since October 2019 and continues based on the strong engagement of project partners.

(Photo: GettyImages/ah_fotobox)

Acceleration Project in Latin America: Background

Based on a request from INPI Brazil, WIPO GREEN initiated the Acceleration Project in Latin America with an initial focus on Climate Smart Agriculture. The project explored local challenges and potential green opportunities in:

  • intensified crop rotation, soil re-carbonization and carbon sequestration, zero-till agriculture and forest management in Argentina;
  • zero-till or conservation agriculture in Brazil;
  • wine production in Chile.

What are Acceleration Projects?

WIPO GREEN Acceleration Projects aim to address climate change, food security and environmental challenges by identifying pressing needs and facilitating connections with innovative green technology solutions in focus areas.

For this project, WIPO GREEN collaborated with ANAGEA, an environmental consultancy company based in Santiago, Chile, whose primary role was to identify local pertinent needs and innovative technologies which could offer a potential solution. The Project has been implemented in cooperation with the Intellectual Property offices in the three countries: Brazil’s National Institute of Industrial Property, Ministry of Economy (INPI), Chile’s National Institute of Industrial Property, Ministry of Economy (INAPI), Argentina’s National Institute of Industrial Property (INPI), and the Ministry of Foreign and Cultural Affairs in Argentina, which also coordinates the participation of a number of government agencies and research institutes, including the country’s Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development, and the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation. In Brazil the Agricultural Research Corporation (EMBRAPA) has been involved and in Chile the industry association Wines of Chile has been an important collaborating partner.

The Project’s First Phase

From October 2019 to March 2020, ANAGEA implemented the matchmaking activities of the project in cooperation with WIPO GREEN, local IP offices and other partners. This consisted of:

  • Identification of needs and solution seekers;
  • Identification of relevant solution providers;
  • Establishment of contact between seekers and providers.

Needs were identified within the public, private and civil society sectors using contacts from the WIPO GREEN network as well as from our partners. Industry associations were particularly important in order to establish contact with farms and companies. WIPO GREEN’s database of technologies and needs was a central tool for the matchmaking process and all needs and technologies were uploaded to the database.

In the first phase of the project, 17 technology seekers, 31 needs, and 65 solutions were identified. Most of the technology providers and seekers are coming from the private and public sectors in Argentina, from public and civil society organizations in Brazil, and private companies in Chile.

What is the WIPO GREEN database?

The WIPO GREEN database of innovative technologies and needs is a unique public catalogue of sustainable solutions, and demand for these solutions (often called “needs”) across the world. It offers technologies from prototype to marketable products, available for license, collaboration, joint ventures, and sale. It also contains needs defined by companies, institutions, and non-governmental organizations looking for technologies to address specific environmental or climate change problems. Register in the database free of charge.

ANAGEA identified potential matches and made the necessary introductions among technology seekers and providers. Ten letters of intent were signed by interested parties as formal indication of their common interests and as a basis for further discussions.

Examples of collaborations

Argentina: Grafin Agro S.A. and Dymaxion Labs

Need: Determining gluten content in cereal production through satellite images of crop fields Potential
Solution: Dymax

Determination of gluten content is relevant in the mill industry due to a higher premium (up to 25%) if gluten content of the Candeal wheat is at least 28%. However, no fast and reliable method to estimate gluten content is known outside of the laboratory analysis and on a farm scale.

Soil and green vegetation analysis that informs nutrient contents in the ground is a critical tool, since optimal nutrient content in the soil improves plant growth, mass and protein content. Particularly relevant is to know nitrogen content because its surplus improves protein levels and thereby the gluten content – and final prices.

Dymax is a platform that allows gathering of geospatial data from different sources, e.g. satellite, radar, aerial photos, and drones. Thanks to real-time Internet of Things-based (IoT) information, the system allows deep analysis and discovery of patterns, for example in crop monitoring. Although Dymax has not previously worked in monitoring gluten and other proteins, the company already works with satellite based Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) and other tools, which can monitor vegetation health and biomass. These variables are also gluten indicators and a specific model for gluten estimation is under development.

Brazil: Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation (EMBRAPA) and VoloDrone

Need: Drone for extensive crop monitoring with greater flight autonomy
Potential solution: VoloDrone

Brazil is one of the main agricultural producers in the world. Several crops and grasses in the area of Mato Grosso do Sul in central Brazil are affected by the invasion of the insect Scaptocoris castânea, commonly known as the brown stinkbug. To improve pest-control as well as the general maintenance of crops, the region is looking for options for improved automated aerial monitoring technologies.

Volocopter and John Deere have teamed up for a crop-spraying autonomous agricultural drone. Sharing synergies with the existing Volocopter platform, VoloDrone is an unmanned, fully electric utility drone, capable of carrying a payload. The VoloDrone has been designed and engineered to serve challenging missions across diverse industries, including agriculture, with the aim of supporting efficient and sustainable agriculture. The VoloDrone increases productivity in a number of areas, including plant protection, seed sowing, forest management and frost control. This technology can fly autonomously for up to 30 minutes. With a cruise speed of 80 km/h, it can cover six hectares per hour, surpassing the potential surface coverage of current technologies available in the market.

Chile: Viña Castellón Winery and Tesla Energy

Need: A solution for water deficit in the dry land of the Itata river
Potential solution: Photovoltaic solar panels

Viña Castellón, a winery estate in the Itata Valley of Chile, is increasingly experiencing water stress situations and seeks a low-cost, low maintenance, sustainable power supply for irrigation. Since the plantations are in hillock areas, pumping is essential. A photovoltaic power supply could be a viable option.

Tesla Energy offers photovoltaic solar panels, which can generate inexpensive and safe electricity locally. This clean energy can be used by agricultural companies in their irrigation systems, lighting systems, cold rooms, ventilation and climate control, as well as to monitor and control production processes and post-harvest tasks. In particular, the solar panels can provide more sustainable energy to Viña Castellón for the energy intensive extraction of water for irrigation systems.

The Way Forward

Originally implemented as a short-term activity, the project has created a strong network of highly engaged partners, who wish to continue pursuing the goals of the project and expand the activities in a long-term collaboration. Therefore, the project is now entering its second phase, in which WIPO GREEN and the project partners will pursue established connections, deepen the search for new needs and technologies, and explore ways to support the partners’ engagement in the innovation and deployment of green technologies.

Partners in all three countries have developed national strategies to continue the project, which ensures continued relevance of the project for their own settings. New activities include conducting sectoral studies that will help identify major innovators, technologies, and demands in specific areas. For example, in the continuous search for new technology offers, Argentina’s National Agricultural Technology Institute (INTA) and others are exploring satellite-based systems related to sustainable agriculture. Green technology business matchmaking events between a wide range of green technology actors, including IP institutes, government agencies, entrepreneurs, development institutions, universities, research and technology institutions, industry associations and small and large companies, are also planned.

The project has already demonstrated a strong aspiration among national IP offices and other partners to play an active and constructive role in mobilizing innovative green technologies for some of today’s most important global challenges, and WIPO GREEN is proud to be able to assist in this process.