Head down to the southern tip of Chile and there is no denying that the region occupies a vital position in the country’s economy with its expansive aquaculture industry — mainly growers of salmon, shellfish and algae.

As Chile embraces diversification as its economic development strategy, universities are keeping up with developments and working more closely with local communities. Among those that have adjusted its mission is the Universidad Austral de Chile.

“Our main campus is in Valdivia in the Los Rios region. We have two sedes, or independent campuses, one in Coyhaique in the Aysen region and another in Puerto Montt in Los Lagos,” Vice Rector Renato Westermeier, who oversees the Puerto Montt campus, said.

Westermeier acknowledges that for local communities to grow, Chile must open up more to the world, whether in education or industry.

“For us in the south, Chile has a long trajectory in aquaculture and Japan is one of our major markets,” he said.

And as Japan is a leading technology provider and innovator across industries, Westermeier points out that between the two sides, there are several opportunities to exchange ideas, share expertise and develop projects that will benefit local communities.

“As we are rich in resources, there is definitely space for collaboration. We invite the Japanese to work with us. We, at Universidad Austral de Chile want to be the springboard for Japanese companies and universities in developing Chile’s southern region,” Westermeier said.