S&T Landscape Brazil

Brazil is frequently entitled as a continent of its own – with good reason. The country’s landmass occupies nearly half of Latin America, and Brazil borders on all other South American nations except for Chile and Ecuador. Worldwide, no other country possesses of a comparable biodiversity and wealth of natural resources. Brazil is on the rise in economic terms: It is Latin America's most important economy, and it is the eighth largest economy worldwide measured by gross domestic product. Brazil is one of the BRIC countries, the big four emerging economies, which are developing fast and strongly into industrialized countries.


The Brazilian ST&I Policy

Brazil’s government is aware of the importance of science, technology and innovation (ST&I) for the country’s economy and society. Innovation is considered as a crosscutting issue for research policy and therefore given special attention. Due to the efforts of Brazilian policy making, the scientific production of the country has grown fast in the last years and Brazil now is responsible for about 2% of the scientific production worldwide. The Ministry of Science and Technology (MCT) is responsible for the formulation and implementation of the national Science and Technology policy. Through the governmental “Action Plan for Science, Technology and Innovation”, Brazil has invested 17 billion EUR in the national research and development system in the period of 2007 to 2010. The national research and innovation efforts have turned Brazil into a strong actor in technology intensive areas, such as Biofuels, Agricultural research, Off-shore Oil Extraction, and ICT.
In Brazil’s governmental action plan for ST&I, four objectives are singled out as strategic axes of the national ST&I policy, among them the expansion and consolidation of national ST&I system; the promotion of technological innovation in firms; the development of ST&I for social development, and the development of ST&I in areas of strategic importance. Comparing the strategic areas identified in the action plan and the public expenditures on research and innovation activities, Biotechnology and Nanotechnology; Biofuels; Oil and Gas Exploration and Refinery; and Aeronautics and Earth Observation stand out as main concerns of Brazilian ST&I.

The Brazilian Science and Technology System in a nutshell

The Brazilian National Science and Technology landscape consists of a complex system of federal and state government agencies, public and private enterprises, universities, research and technological institutes, laboratories and libraries produces high quality international recognized research results. In several highly internationalised universities and research centers, world class research is carried out. The main institutions and concepts are explained below.

Overview of the Brazilian system of research and innovation


Main Sources of funding

CNPq, the Council for Scientific and Technological Development  is a public foundation. CNPq’s mission is to promote and stimulate the scientific and technological development of Brazil and to contribute to the formulation of national S&T policy through funding capacity building in S&T (at master, doctoral and specialization level) and financing research projects in key areas. Through its programmes, CNPq supports the development of research, strengthens research groups and institutions, and encourages international cooperation of Brazilian researchers.

FINEP, the Brazilian Studies and Projects Finance Organization, is the Brazilian innovation agency. FINEP is a public company, which promotes economic and social development by fostering innovation in public companies, universities, and research institutes. FINEP issues loans and grants to public and private institutions.

CAPES, the Federal Agency for Support and Evaluation of Higher Education, supports the Ministry of Education (MEC) in formulating policies in the context of higher education and coordinates the Brazilian system of postgraduation. CAPES is dedicated to fostering Brazil’s human capacities in S&T through offering support for training activities. CAPES also has an important role in funding international research cooperation - many international cooperation agreements between Brazil and other countries are operated through CAPES.

Next to the big federal funding agencies, the Brazilian S&T system counts with 27 Research Support Foundations (FAPs), which are located in each federal state and in the Federal District of Brasilia. These research support foundations aim to assist the research and innovation community of their respective state. While all FAPs financially support research and innovation activities, the individual budgets of the FAPs vary greatly. The actions of the FAPs include a broad range of funding instruments in support of research, innovation and teaching. The São Paulo Research Support Foundation (FAPESP) is the largest and most effective FAP. FAPESP receives 1% of São Paulo State’s tax revenues; and has a substantial budget at hand (more than €180 million in recent years).

Main instruments of funding

The S&T Sector Funds are a major financial source of supporting Brazil's Science, Technology and Innovation system. Since 1999, fourteen thematic and two crosscutting Sector Funds receive their resources through different federal taxes. In 2009, the sector funds provided an investment of around €1.15 billion to ST&I projects. The Sector Funds, operated by CNPq and FINEP, are organized according to the following topics:

  • Aeronautics: Stimulates investments in R&D in aeronautical engineering, electronics and mechanics;
  • Agribusiness: Stimulates capacity building in the areas of agronomy, veterinary medicine, biotechnology, economics and agricultural sociology;
  • Amazon: Promotes R&D activities in the Amazon region;
  • Waterways: Supports technological innovation in the areas of water transportation;
  • Biotechnology: Strengthens the national infrastructure of biotechnology research; stimulates the creation of companies based on biotechnology;
  • Energy: Stimulates R&D on new alternative energy;
  • Space: Stimulates R&D on space technology in the areas of communication, remote sensing, meteorology, agriculture, oceanography and navigation;
  • Hydro: Improves the utilization of water resources, through actions in the areas of water resources management, water conservation in urban areas, sustainability in Brazilian environments and integrated and efficient use of water
  • Information technology: Promotes strategic R&D projects in information technology;
  • Infrastructure: Cross-sector fund to support infrastructure;
  • Minerals: Stimulates research on mineral exploration;
  • Oil and Natural Gas: Stimulates innovation in the supply chain of oil and natural gas;
  • Health: Supports capacity building in the areas of public health, pharmaceuticals, biotechnology, etc;
  • Transportation: Funds R&D in transport engineering, materials, logistics, equipment and software;
  • “Yellow Green”: Cross-topic support of innovation and technology transfer, aimed at improving university-industry interactions;
  • Telecommunications (FUNTEL): Supports R&D in telecommunications.

The programme for National Institutes for Science and Technology (INCT) is funded by CNPq is targeted at the networking of laboratories. More than 122 projects have been approved so far in different research areas at the frontiers of knowledge, such as health, biotechnology, nanotechnology and energy (download official brochure here). The participation of international researchers in INCT is encouraged, even if there are no modalities of funding specially foreseen for their participation. At the same time, Brazilian participants of INCTs, resident in Brazil, can realize short-term activities in Europe, or pursue a master degree abroad, with the budget assigned to the project, provided that these international activities are previously explained in the project proposal.

Lattes Platform

The Lattes Platform is the Brazilian database of researchers, institutions and research groups in S&T. It includes 1.8 Million CVs of Brazilian researchers, 27,000 research groups in 400 Brazilian institutions (in portuguese, automatic english translation). Brazilian researchers wishing to obtain financial support through Brazilian funding agencies have to be registered in Lattes.

Top Brazilian Universities and research institutions

In Brazil, the federal universities are often in the leading positions, such as the Universidade de São Paulo (USP), the Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ), the Universidade Estadual de Campinas (Unicamp), the Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS), or the Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais (UFMG). Next to the universities, a big number of public research organizations can be found in Brazil, carrying out research in strategic thematic areas. Each of them attached to a ministry, such as EMBRAPA, the Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation, or FIOCRUZ, the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation, the main public health research institution in Brazil.

In our download section, you find detailed information on the Brazilian Science and Technology landscape, including information on the different research institutions, universities and agencies.

In our link section, you find links to the most important Brazilian S&T institutions and to additional webpages providing information about S&T in Brazil.