Preserve the independence of the PR Science Trust/ Preservemos la independencia del FCTI
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Honorable Governor Ricardo Rosello Nevares:
Given the historical crossroads Puerto Rico is facing, the Puerto Rico Science, Technology and Research Trust (PR Science Trust) is key for the implementation of visionary initiatives of great value for the economic and social prosperity of Puerto Rico. We, the members of the Puerto Rican scientific community and science-loving citizens, reaffirm that for the PR Science Trust to effectively carry out its mission, it must maintain its current model and governance, and continue to operate independently and free from political influence.
We hereby implore that you do not sign House Bill 1122 (PC 1122) into law as it:
- Proposes to eliminate the Board of Trustees, an independent 11-member entity currently overseeing by the PR Science Trust, to replace it with a Board whose 9 members will be appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the Senate. PC 1122 threatens to politicize the PR Science Trust, and calls into question the independence of the institution thereby threatening the credibility and leadership of Puerto Rico as a center of science and innovation.
- Eliminates authorization for the vast majority of the PR Science Trust’s investment activities: At a time when the US government is threatening with massive budget cuts, it is more important than ever for Puerto Rico to prioritize and preserve investments in research and innovation activities. PC 1122 eliminates authorization for virtually all PR Science Trust investment activities. This threatens initiatives such as the Research Grants Program, which in addition to subsidizing over 50 researchers in various strategic sectors, and training 127 students, has resulted in the creation of 6 companies and the application for 7 patents, and has led to more than $5 million in federal and private funds for projects in Puerto Rico.
PC 1122 puts at risk the following achievements and initiatives:
A. The global accelerator Parallel 18, which has involved nearly 100 companies from 15 countries and has resulted in the creation of 168 direct jobs within the island.
B. The Research Grants Program, which has subsidized over 50 researchers in various strategic sectors, has facilitated the creation of 6 companies and 7 new patents in addition to securing more than $5 million in private and federal funds.
C. The Puerto Rico Clinical Research Consortium, which links 22 research centers in Puerto Rico and includes a collaboration with the Yale Clinical Research Center. In just one year the it has brought to Puerto Rico 9 pharmaceutical company contracts for clinical trials, trained more than 120 as clinical staff and has 50 active researchers.
D. The Puerto Rico Brain Trust for Tropical Disease Research & Prevention, a group of local and international epidemiologists and physicians whose work led to a $15 million a year for 5 years’ grant from the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to create the Puerto Rico Vector Control Unit for the management and education about the Aedes aegypti mosquito that transmits Dengue, Zika and Chikungunya.
E. Colmena 66, a program and digital platform that connects Puerto Rico's entire business ecosystem and has achieved over 7,000 connections between entrepreneurs and the resources they need to drive their business.
As a scientist you know better than anyone the importance of Puerto Rico having a sustainable and stable science and innovation infrastructure for its economic growth. The proposed changes to the Science Trust’s governance and structure, which have been working positively and effectively over the past three years, represents a direct threat to the stability of the country's science and innovation infrastructure and the economic future of Puerto Rico.
Therefore, we ask you, honorable governor, that you do not to sign PC 1122 into law.
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