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The political system in Brazil, through its Ministries, also has a significant influence on the structuring of research and innovation in various sectors.  Read more here about the main Ministries that have a focus in these areas.

Ministry of Science, Technology, Innovation and Communication (MCTIC)

In May 2016, the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (MCTI) was merged with the Ministry of Communication, thus forming the Ministry of Science, Technology, Innovation and Communication (MCTIC). The MCTIC, which promotes scientific, technological, and innovation research in Brazil, is also responsible for the nation’s policies regarding space, nuclear, biosecurity, scientific, technological and innovation research, planning, coordination, supervision and control of science and technology activities, information technology development and automation, and control of the export of sensitive goods and services, which sectors are considered to be strategic.

In May 2016, the MCTIC launched the National Strategy for Science, Technology and Innovation (ENCTI) 2016-2019. In 2017, the Ministry revised and updated the document (ENCTI 2016-2022) for a new period of time. That strategy sets the condition that Brazil take a leap forward in scientific and technological development and raise the competitiveness of products and processes within a robust and clear National System of Science, Technology and Innovation (SNCTI).

The objective is to position Brazil among the countries that have the greatest development in CT&I; improve the institutional conditions for raising productivity, based on innovation; reduce regional asymmetries in production and CT&I access; develop innovative solutions for productive and social inclusion; and strengthen the bases for promoting sustainable development.

In order to achieve these objectives, ENCTI 2016-2022 laid out twelve strategic topics to be given priority in accordance with the challenges and with the guidelines set forth for the National System for Science, Technology and Innovation (SNCTI): aerospace and defense; water; food; biomes and bioeconomics; social sciences and technologies; climate; digital economy and society; energy; strategic minerals, nuclear; health; and converging and enabling technologies.

Programs and Agencies

In the MCTIC, the theme areas are divided into 26 groups, as presented on the page regarding the Areas of Research in Brazil. Eight areas are given special attention by the MCTIC through the program, formed into networks around groups of excellence into frontier science areas and into strategic areas for the country’s sustainable development. In all, there are over one hundred institutes working on studies in the areas of agrarian, exact and natural, human and social sciences, energy, engineering and information technology, ecology and the environment, nanotechnology, and health.

Promoting technological innovation in companies is another objective of the MCTIC, which, to that end, has been engaged in bringing the scientific and business worlds together by working in partnerships with various business organizations.

To foment scientific and technological research, as well as the formation of Brazilian researchers and the transfer of technology and knowledge to companies, the Ministry has such agencies as the National Council for Scientific (CNPq) and Technological Development and the Funding Authority for Studies and Projects (Finep).

The Brazilian Space Agency (AEB) is also linked to the MCTIC and is responsible for formulating Brazilian space policies and promoting the autonomy of the sector. It coordinates the activities of the Brazilian Space Program, which also has the participation of the National Institute for Space Research (INPE) and the Department of Science and Aerospace Technology (DCTA). The latter is responsible for the Aeronautics and Space Institute (IAE), the Alcântara Launch Center (CLA), and the Barreira do Inferno Launch Center (CLBI). All of these institutions support the activities developed within the space area.

Among the highlights is the University Telemedicine Network (Rute), supported by FINEP and the Brazilian Association of University Hospitals (ABRAHUE). The network is integrated with the University Telemedicine Network, which seeks to improve the quality of service of the Unified Health System (SUS) by integrating education and service via information technology tools. Through the National Education and Research Network (RNP), Rutehas partner networks in Latin America, Europe, Japan, Australia, and the United States.

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Ministry of Education (MEC)

The MEC promotes the consolidation, expansion, and internationalization of higher education and academic research. Other actions are focused on basic, higher, and continuing education, as well as literacy and inclusion. There are various programs for fomenting innovative research, via such institutions as the Higher Education Personnel (Capes).

Quite a number of higher education and research institutions are linked to the Ministry, such as Federal universities, Federal Education, Science, and Technology Institutes (IF), the Federal Centers for Technological Education (Cefets), and the Anísio Teixeira National Institute for Educational Studies and Research (Inep). They are found in all States of the Union.

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Ministry of Mining and Energy (MME)

The country’s scientific and technological development is one of the areas of concern of the Ministry of Mining and Energy, which invests in research centers related to the sector. The main one is the Electrical Energy Research Center (Cepel), which is the  largest electrical power research institution in the Southern Hemisphere, located in Rio de Janeiro. The R&D activities are centralized in the Research and Development Center Leopoldo Américo Miguez de Mello (Cenpes), in Rio de Janeiro, which is one of the most important basic and applied engineering research complexes in the world. In addition, Petrobras has developed a technological partnership model with universities and research institutes throughout the country. These partnerships include the creation of cutting-edge laboratories, training of researchers and project development.

Another important arm of this Ministry is the Energy Research Company (EPE), which was created to perform studies and research for the planning of the country’s energy sector. The EPE’s areas of involvement include electrical power, petroleum, natural gas and its derivatives, coal, renewable energy sources, energy efficiency, and others.

“Generating and disseminating basic geological and hydrological needed for the sustainable development of Brazil” is the task of the Federal Mineral Resource Survey Company (CPRM), which also plays the role of Brazil’s Geological Service.

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Ministry of Health (MS)

The Federal government has a series of incentives for the development of research related to the country’s health, so as to direct investments to public health needs. The actions of this segment are guided by the National Science, Technology and Innovation in Health Policy. All the scientific and technological knowledge developed is used at all the management levels of the Unified Health System (SUS).

Some of the country’s most important research institutions are linked to the Ministry of Health, like the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (Fiocruz), which produces and shares knowledge and technologies for promoting good health. The MS also works in partnerships with State institutes, like the Butantan Institute, in São Paulo, which is the primary producer of immunobiological products in Brazil, and is responsible for a large percentage of the nation’s production of serums and vaccines for the National Immunization Program. For instance, Brazil distributes 25 types of vaccines free of charge and exports doses to more than 70 countries, especially in Africa. Internally, they are produced by the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation and by the Butantan Institute.

Hemobrás (Brazilian Blood Products and Biotechnology Company) is also linked to the MS and works to reduce Brazil’s dependence on foreign sources with regard to blood derivatives. It produces medications that are essential to the lives of hemophiliacs, as well as those who suffer from genetic immunodeficiency, cirrhosis of the liver, cancer, HIV/AIDS, and burn injuries.

Another initiative of the Ministry is to train and educate the health professionals who serve within the Unified Health System (SUS). To that end, in 2010 the SUS Open University (UNA-SUS) was created , which, currently, has a collaborative network of 40 institutions of higher education, under the coordination of the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (Fiocruz).

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Ministry of Defense

The development of new technologies is essential for implementing Brazil’s National Defense Strategy. The Ministry of Defense encourages and carries out a number of research projects and invests in innovation, giving priority to three strategic sectors: space, cybernetics, and nuclear. Brazil maintains bilateral relations with Germany, which includes strategic partnership in the area of national defense.

Within the Armed Forces, the Army, Navy and Air Force develop a series of programs focusing on science and technology. One of them is called Inova Aerodefesa, established in 2013, which funds such items as space platforms and satellites, remote sensors for defense, and biometric identification systems. Other initiatives include the development of unmanned aerial vehicles, remotely guided land vehicles, turboreactors, Army defense radars, infrared sensors, new armored vehicle models, and the application of nanotechnology in uniforms.

The Brazilian Navy, carries out the Brazilian Antarctica Program (Proantar), for the purpose of coordinating and giving operational support to research on the continent of Antarctica, which has an enormous influence on the climate and management of Brazil’s seas.

The Ministry of Defense also supports research related to the Blue Amazon, the maritime region of the Brazilian coast that has strategic and economic potential as important as that of the Green Amazon.  Blue Amazon Defense Technologies (Amazul) is linked to the Ministry; the objective of this public company is to develop the country’s nuclear sector. Among its main projects is the construction of the first Brazilian atomic-powered submarine, as well as the Deep Immersion Vehicle (VIP), which is a high-tech submarine found in only five countries, worldwide, at the present time.

The Submarine Development Program (PROSUB) is considered to be an essential part of the Navy’s investment in expanding its naval force and in developing the defense industry to protect the maritime area of about 4.5 million square kilometers, where 90% of Brazil’s natural petroleum deposits are found, among other mineral wealth, and through which 95% of Brazilian exports and imports circulate.

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Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Supply (MAPA)

The Ministry of Agriculture has programs and funding lines for fostering research and innovations related to the sector. The most important initiative of this Ministry is the Brazilian Livestock Research Company (Embrapa), founded in 1973 to develop a genuinely Brazilian tropical agricultural and livestock model, overcoming the barriers that limited the production of food, fibers, and energy in the country. The company has 42 research units and seven administrative units that are also involved in partnerships with other research institutions in Brazil and abroad.

The Incentive Program for Technological Innovation in Livestock Production (Inovagro), focusing on rural producers or production cooperatives, for example, finances precision agricultural equipment. The funds are destined for technological innovation and the development of livestock best practices with an eye to animal well-being; the acquisition of genetic materials; employee consulting and training; the u se of new farming equipment; and coffee, fruit and flower cultivation, among others.

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Ministry of the Environment (MMA)

The Ministry of the Environment supports, gives incentive to, and funds research and innovation sustainability projects. The programs include technological development and pioneering applications of products and processes that promote environmental sanitation (especially water and sewage treatment); environmental monitoring; the prevention of natural disasters; sustainable production with actions involving energy efficiency in the industrial sector; the prevention and control of atmospheric emissions; and other projects.

All of the activities related to genetic assets, research, technological development, and associated traditional knowledge must be approved by the members of the Genetic Heritage Management Council (CGEN), which is a deliberative body within the Ministry of the Environment (MMA).

Several prominent institutions in the country contribute to the promotion of research and innovation in the environmental sector, like the Brazilian Institute of the Environment and Renewable Natural Resources (IBAMA). Other institutions are the National Water Authority (ANA), the Brazilian Forest Service (SFB) and the Chico Mendes Institute for Biodiversity Conservation (ICMBio).

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Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MRE)

Cooperation in science, technology, and innovation is part of Brazil’s foreign policy and is practiced with countries from all continents, with different degrees of development. The priority of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is to strengthen partnerships with South American countries, especially those that belong to Mercosur. There are also many transfers of technology with countries having similar scientific and technological development to that of Brazil, that is Russia, India, China, and South Africa.

The country also develops technical, agricultural, and educational cooperative efforts, which are political instruments for driving an approximation between the states. In the education sector, Itamaraty (headquarters of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs) holds partnerships with institutions in developing the Exchange Program for Undergraduate Students (PEC-G) and the Program for Graduate Students (PEC-PG).

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs also maintains institutions for the preparation of diplomats and research in the areas of international affairs and diplomacy, such as the  Rio Branco Institute (IRBr) and the Alexandre de Gusmão Foundation (Funag), the latter also being responsible for preserving the country’s diplomatic memory.

In the area of cooperation for development, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, through the Brazilian Cooperation Agency (ABC), supports scientific cooperation agreements with the developing countries.

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Ministry of the Economy

In January 2019, Jair Bolsonaro was inaugurated President of the Republic of Brazil. In a strategy for reducing the number of Ministries, which he considered to be “inefficient” and that does not serve “the legitimate interests of the Nation”, the new President grouped some of the ministries, in the belief that the large number of Ministries merely serves the purpose of subdividing the State to meet political demands. Therefore, both the Ministry of Industry, Foreign Trade and Services (MDIC) and the Ministry of Planning, Development and Management (MP) are now under the aegis of the Ministry of the Economy.

The governing plan of the new President makes it clear that his priority will be “to generate growth, opportunities, and jobs, removing enormous contingents of the population from the precarious situation in which they now find themselves.” To achieve this result, it establishes a focus on fiscal control, staying away from populist policies, and controlling inflation.

Ministry of the Economy - Industria, Foreign Trade and Services (MDIC)

Through the Department of Innovation (SI) several mechanisms will be put in place for supporting the development of innovative initiatives in Brazilian companies. Among them are fiscal and financial incentives, qualification in sectors with a technological and strategic basis, public-private partnerships, and the attraction of science and technology hubs. Another important program seeks international cooperation in innovation, with stimulus for partnerships between companies from Brazil and from other countries. The InovAtiva Brazil program offers large-scale acceleration for innovative businesses in any sector and anywhere in Brazil. Also underway is an agreement to train new entrepreneurs of startups and of innovative small businesses. Other areas that have specific lines of financing and stimulus are biotechnology, nanotechnology, energy, and education.

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Ministry of the Economy - Planning, Development and Management (MP)

The development and implementation of new technologies are fundamental to modern and efficient management. For that reason, the Ministry seeks to update the rules that are in effect, in light of technological innovations, and to strengthen the culture of information security. Among the Ministry’s challenges is to improve the System for the Administration of Information Technology Resources (SISP), like developing a hardware and software inventory for the system. Innovations are also expected for other systems, like the Electronic Government Accessibility Model, the Public Software Portal, and the Electronic Government Interoperability Standards. There is also the objective of developing an innovation culture in all of the levels of the Federal government, in a coordinated and systematic manner.

It is one of the biggest supporters of InovaGov – an innovation network of the public sector, with the participation of organizations and different agents from society, focusing on stimulating and enabling new ideas and carrying out pilot projects in Brazil’s public sector. It is a space for integrating public, private, third sector, and academic areas.

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