Letter from the editor | 60

An extraordinary year for FAPESP

The final edition of the year 2000 of Pesquisa FAPESP brings, as a front cover report, a theme very close to the publications in economy journalism. However, the entrance into the magazine of the question of risk capital linked to technological innovation is, in truth, another example of the diversity of the FAPESP initiatives to give an impulse to scientific and technological development in São Paulo. It is an example of the open vision which made the year 2000 an exceptional one in the life of the Foundation, and which does not feel intimidated in its search to attract to the world of research partners who, in the not too distant past, would have merited anathema of the scientific community.

On the report, it is worth remembering that since the launch of the Program of Partnership for Innovative Technology (PITE) in1994, and even more from the start of the Program of Innovative Technology in Small Businesses (PIPE), begun in July of 1997, FAPESP has developed a consistent effort to induce technological development, based on a fundamental axiom: the company is the place of excellence for innovative research. Now, in looking to approximate risk capital with small entrepreneurs, the Foundation is trying to move one more step forward in the support which it offers for the businesses with projects supported through PIPE (129 actually) for them to have commercial success in the market.

As is known, FAPESP finances two phases of these innovate projects: that of the research of the technical and commercial viability of the proposal, with a duration of up to six months and a budget of up to R$75,000.00, and of the research of the innovation itself, with duration of up to 2 years and of a budget of up to R$300,000.00. The third phase, when the company should put its results on the market, cannot be financed by FAPESP, which, however, offers support so that the company looks for other sources of finance and consequently amplifies its chances of success. Now, risk capital is emerging today as an alternative to capitalization, a type of temporary partner of the enterprise, capable of assisting it until it takes root in the market.

Meanwhile, the technological development policy which the Foundation is carrying out, is to look for it and present to it the entrepreneurs with projects in PIPE. It is worth pointing out here, the noting of a small end of the year balance, which is the spirit which runs through the Foundation – in its search for new entrances and innovative exits which would give an impulse to Paulista development – only brought good fruit during 2000, beginning with the conclusion of the sequencing of the genome of Xylella fastidiosa, in the month of January.

The success of this project resulted in a celebration, in receiving a prize, trophies and medals offered by the Governor Mário Covas to the 192 researchers who worked with determination to decipher the genome of Xylella; guaranteeing an impressive recuperation of scientific research done in Brazil, within the specialized ranks, in the national and international press; provoked in July the cover story of Nature, one of the most important scientific magazines in the world, and from there onwards, guaranteed an international look at Brazilian scientific production, which only three years ago, very few suspected would be possible.

The sequencing of Xylella was the most brilliant piece of work among many others which happened during the year which ended, closing with the bestowing of the title of the Brazilian of the Year in Science, by the magazine Isto É (Editora Três), to the Scientific Director of FAPESP, Dr. José Fernando Perez, and to the researcher Fernando Reinach, one of the coordinators of the project Xylella fastidiosa.