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Innovation in Brazil now counts with a comprehensive and consensual law

by Richard Meckien - published Apr 06, 2016 04:20 PM - - last modified May 12, 2016 02:26 PM
Rights: Original version in Portuguese by Mauro Bellesa.

How is it possible that a country placed 13th when it comes to worldwide scientific production (2.7% of the world total) comes in on place 70 in the Global Innovation Index rankings?

Sibá Machado - Lei da Inovação
Deputy Sibá Machado, rapporteur of the project that gave rise to the Innovation Law

This is the Brazilian reality because "we are very poor in terms of patents," said Helena Nader, president of the Brazilian Society for the Advancement of Science (SBPC), one of the exhibitors at the seminar The New Innovation Law: Expectations, Perspectives and Initiatives, held on April 4 at the USP's Faculty of Economics, Management and Accounting (FEA).

The poor performance in patents is an indicator of the country's difficulties in producing innovation, an activity surrounded by legal, institutional, financial and even cultural impediments.

"Brazil has 20% of the world's biodiversity but an archaic legislation on the issue. In the last 10 years we have only allowed 300 researches in this area. The result is that companies prefer to patent their products abroad." The example was given by Paulo Mól, national superintendent of the Euvaldo Lodi Institute (IEL) of the National Industry Confederation (CNI) and coordinator of the Business Mobilization for Innovation (MEI).


Legal advancement

While there is still much to be done, the spirit of the actors involved in science, technology and innovation in Brazil is renewed. This is a result of the new legal framework established for the sector in recent years.

Helena Nader - Seminário Lei da Inovação
Helena Nader: a perspective of the scientific community

The most recent achievement was the adoption of a constitutional amendment (Emenda Constitucional nº 85 - in Portuguese), amending and adding devices in the Federal Constitution to update the treatment of activities in science, technology and innovation. The amendment has led to the final law project presented by various members of the Parliament in 2011 and resulted in the new innovation law, enacted on January 11 by President Dilma Rousseff.

Related material

The New Innovation Law: Expectations, Perspectives and Initiatives
April 4, 2016


Video (in Portuguese)


The new law provides for incentives to scientific development, research, scientific and technological capacity, and innovation. It also amends various legal provisions.

In addition to the law and the constitutional amendment, deputy Sibá Machado also addressed a set of legal texts from which science, technology and innovation benefit, and which deals with the supporting foundations; a law on the access to biodiversity; a provisional measure on the imports by supporting foundations; and a proposed constitutional amendment that regulates professional and graduation courses.

Vahan Agopyan e Guilherme Ary Plonski - Seminário Lei da Inovação
Vahan Agopyan, vice-president of USP, and Guilherme Ary Plonski (left) during the opening of the seminar

Machado was the rapporteur of the project that gave rise to the law. He said that the idea of establishing a National Code of Science, Technology and Innovation was dropped because something like that would head the standards to a relatively inflexible way, which would be inappropriate for an area in constant transformation.

One of the great achievements of the process that led to the new legislation was the fact that it is the result of consensus among the scientific community, companies, the Brazilian congress and the government (including the effort for the overthrow of vetoes), according to the speakers at the seminar.

At the opening of the seminar, Professor Guilherme Ary Plonski, organizer of the event and scientific coordinator of the USP's Center for Policy and Technology Management (PGT), said that the five-year work that resulted in the constitutional amendment and in the Innovation Law has involved 53 academic, entrepreneurial and government institutions, 19 of them taking a more active role.

Maria Paula Dallari Bucci - Seminário Lei da Inovação
Maria Paula Dallari Bucci: initiatives for effectiveness

USP's vice-president Vahan Agopyan cited the problem of legal uncertainty, which hinders many companies to invest in innovation. According to him, a 2010 survey indicated that only 0.25% of the companies in the State of São Paulo able to invest in innovation had the courage to use the Law of Innovation. FEA's deputy director, Joaquim José Martins Guilhoto, highlighted the national and regional impact of the new law. The opening of the seminar has also been attended by the University's provost for research, José Eduardo Krieger, who has moderated the seminar.


According to the exhibitors, the immediate steps are the overthrow of the eight partial vetoes and the regulation of the new law, whose proposal will be drawn up by a working group of the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (MCTI), and submitted to public consultation.

The regulation will be a crucial stage in the process in order to resolve doubts and disagreements, and again try to reach a consensus. At the seminar, it was up to the USP's legal superintendent, Maria Paula Dallari Bucci, a professor at the University's Law School, to detail the legal aspects involved in the new legislation and the precautions to be taken in its implementation. Bucci took the point of view of the public sector, giving special attention to the peculiarities of the State of São Paulo.

Paulo Mól - Seminário Lei da Inovação
Paulo Mól: perspective of the
business community

For her, instead of talking about regulation, one must speak of "regulations for specific points." The first priority, she said, is to define a legal concept that gives support to the managing entity of technology parks and incubators. She recalled that the qualification of private law's legal entities as social organizations whose activities are directed to science, technology and innovation is allowed, but by law the government of the State of São Paulo is not. This prohibition places the future of many São Paulo institutions at risk, according to the professor.

Further topics that have been discussed: the need to set limits to the possibility of researchers in exclusive dedication to participate in paid private projects so that there is no prejudice to their teaching and research activities; the clarification of how the support of foundations can manage their own revenues from science and technology public institutions; and how to deal with the issue of reciprocity in the case of incentives for foreign companies to settle research and development centers in Brazil.

For Bucci, one amendment inserted by the new law is a setback: the repeal of the Innovation Law devices that dealt explicitly with consolidated information that should be annually passed on by the science and technology institutions to the MCTI (intellectual property policy, developed creations; required and granted protection, and licensing agreements or technology transfer signed).

The event has been a partnership between the USP's Dean of Research, the IEA, the USP's Center for Policy and Technology Management (PGT), based on FEA, and the Centre for Research Innovation and Competitiveness Observatory (NAP- OIC), based on the IEA.