Knowing the innovation sector in Mexico, the new CONAHCYT (Mexico)
Knowing the innovation sector in Mexico, the new CONAHCYT (Mexico)

In Mexico, innovation, science, and technology are managed and directed by an entity that we know today as the National Council of Humanities, Science, and Technologies (CONAHCYT). Its mission is to promote and strengthen Mexico’s scientific development and technological modernization through training high-level human resources, promoting and supporting specific research projects, and disseminating scientific and technical information for which it manages this year, a budget of MXN$ 35,637,178,522.

However, this entity is new to the country. It was not until April of this year that the Chamber of Deputies approved to eliminate of the National Council of Science and Technology (CONACYT) and transformed it into the National Council of Humanities, Sciences, and Technologies (CONAHCYT), also included within its Board of Government to the Chancellery and the armed forces. Along with this change, the new General Law on Humanities, Sciences, Technologies, and Innovation was promulgated and approved during great controversy. The main discussions are three:

According to the approved law, every Mexican has the right to “enjoy the benefits of scientific development.” Under this principle, the State must promote the dissemination and investigation of scientific knowledge whose ultimate goals include social good. The 26 CONAHCYT public centers with the budgetary authority to choose their research projects lost it with the new law. Instead, a council of State Secretariats and state governments decides what research would be done in the country.

The board that defines the destinations of the science budgets no longer includes the 26 CONACYT public centers but a panel that consists of the State Secretariats and even the National Army.

On its website with explanations about the law, CONAHCYT ensures that the council remains. It is replaced by another name, the National Council of Humanities, Sciences, Technologies, and Innovation. The changes seem aesthetic, but they are not. In reality, they refer to the “humanist” approach that the new council will have when deciding what type of scientific research should be done in Mexico.

In general, the new CONAHCYT proposes:
• The elimination of all subsidies within the CONAHCYT
• The scholarships will prioritize researchers from publicuniversities
• Incorporation of the humanities into the guiding principlesto “vindicate the humanistic nature of the country’s scientific and technological policy, as well as the human right to science”
• It will have a Governing Board made up of the Military,the Navy, the Secretariats of Agriculture and RuralDevelopment, Welfare, Infrastructure, Communicationsand Transportation, Culture, Economy, Public Education,Energy, Finance and Public Credit, Environment andNatural Resources, Foreign Relations, and Health, which will interfere in the budget and issues on the development ofscience and technology in the country
• Academics and scientists will not have a vote in CONAHCYT’sdecisions
• Implementation of National Strategic Programs(PRONACES), in which care, prevention, and diagnosis ofspecific national problems will be sought, which require urgent solutions, and in which the knowledge generatedfrom the research can be applied
• It will continue to be a decentralized body, not sectorized,with legal personality, assets, and autonomy
• Only these federal government representatives willhave a voice and vote. In contrast, the voices of scientific researchers and academics may only be heard if theGoverning Board requests it

Despite these controversies, the law also presents us with an encouraging panorama by pointing out that the federation, states, and municipalities, through the affiliated institutions, must apply public policies aimed at carrying out, promoting, and supporting training, research, dissemination, and development of projects in the humanities, sciences, technologies, and innovation.

If the new law is the way to help the country to improve its innovation and technology, it cannot be said. Mexico performed best in the Global Innovation Index of the World Intellectual Property Organization in 2020 and 2021, reaching position 55; in 2022, it was moved to position 58. In addition, UNESCO recommends that each country allocate at least 1% of its gross domestic product to research and development; in Mexico, the budget allocated to science and technology is around .6%. The new law and council have a long way to go and a lot to prove.