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Research Funding System

by Flávia Dourado - published Apr 11, 2013 02:41 PM - - last modified Apr 11, 2013 02:42 PM

In Brazil, most research is carried out in public universities and funded by federal and state agencies. Financial resources invested in the system of science, technology and innovation (STI) are allocated mostly for scholarship grants to researchers of all levels – graduate students, professors and researchers.

The federal government's organization in charge of advancing Brazilian scientific and technological development is the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (MCTI), which coordinates the implementation of STI programs and activities, and leads a group of institutions that promote national research. Two of them are particularly important in terms of public funding: CNPq (National Council for Scientific and Technological Development) and Finep (Funding Agency for Studies and Projects).

CNPq grants scholarships to train researchers in universities, research institutes and technology centers, both in Brazil and abroad, and provides resources for research and development projects, either directly or in partnership with other government agencies. It also invests in science dissemination by offering financial support for editing and publishing specialized journals, and by promoting STI events and conferences for students and researchers.

Finep funds STI activities of companies, universities, technology institutes and other public or private institutions. It supports the entire chain of scientific and technological enablement: basic research, applied research, innovation, and the development of product, services and processes. It also fosters incubation of technology-based companies, establishment of technology parks, structuring and consolidation of researches activities, and innovation in established companies.

In addition to CNPq and Finep, the Federal Government maintains another agency that finances the national STI system: Capes (Coordinating Body for the Improvement of Higher Education Personnel), linked to theMinistry of Education. Although Capes doesn’t directly fund research, it contributes to the production of knowledge by providing scholarships for masters’ and doctors’ degrees. Thus, it plays a key role in improving basic and higher education, and especially in expanding and consolidating graduate courses across Brazil.

Individual states, in turn, have their own research support foundations (FAPs) as the main instrument to promote STI development. Fapesp, the São Paulo Research Foundation, linked to the Department of Economic Development, Science and Technology (SDECT) of the state of São Paulo, is Brazil's largest FAP. With an annual budget of 1% of the state’s total tax revenue, which reached US$ 560 million, it fosters São Paulo's scientific and technological advancement by supporting research projects of institutions of higher education and research in all fields of knowledge.

English revision: Carlos Malferrari — Picture: Fapesp