Positive balance

Bitter measures in 2002 have allowed FAPESP to resume investments in 2003

In a year marked by a financial and currency crisis, as 2002 was in Brazil, FAPESP’s action was guided by reflection and by the need for adopting preventive measures to adjust the funding that it provides for scientific and technological research to the reality of the new circumstances. Seeking to maintain the institution’s financial balance and the guarantee of its capacity for future investment, the Foundation, at the same time, did not neglect the research projects under way. It ended the year with a disbursement of R$ 455.5 million for research in the state of São Paulo, as is shown by the 2002 Report on Activities, which is being launched.

They were mature decisions, taken at the moment that the institution was completing its 40th year. “The decisions were taken to preserve the capacity for acting efficiently in fostering research and in generating knowledge, which has always characterized FAPESP’s work”, comments the president of the Foundation, Carlos Vogt. The decision of the Board of Trustees, in August last year, to suspend the imports of goods and services, in the light of the unstable exchange rates, was bitter medicine, but necessary to preserve the institution’s health. And gradually, pari passu with the stabilization of the country’s economy, the purchases abroad were resumed. In October this year, imports of goods and services were authorized for projects in force until 2007.

“With the authorization, last month, of these new stages of imports, all the applications lodged with FAPESP were attended to. All the demand is being brought down to nil”, says Vogt. According to him, the resumption of imports was possible precisely because preventive measures to contain spending were taken at the right moment, coupled with an organized scheduling of investments. “This made it possible to restore the Foundation’s available financial resources, which at the end of last September reached the R$ 600 million mark, exceeding the expectations for the end of the year of R$ 550 million”, Vogt commemorates. And he adds: “Restoring the availability of funds is going to allow the Foundation to maintain, with tranquility, its capacity for supporting cultural, scientific and technological research, by means of scholarships and grants, and, at the same time, to have preserved its capacity for generating resources of its own to complement its annual budget”.

Regular scholarships
Another bitter measure taken in 2002 was the greater rigor in analyzing the new applications for scholarships, which had already begun in the previous year, caused by the noteworthy and constant increase in demand over several years, and aggravated by the reduction in investments by the federal agencies in the state of São Paulo. FAPESP had been responding to this situation with an increase in approvals. In 1993, the Foundation approved 1,160 new scholarships in the country; in 2000, 4,965, which represents an expansion of 328% in the period. In 2000, expenditure on scholarships now accounted for 38.38% of the total disbursed by FAPESP in the year.

In order not to endanger the support for other modalities of research, in 2001 the analysis of the projects with scholarships for masters and doctors degrees became more rigorous, and, in 2002, the scholarship requests started to be judged in a process of comparative analysis. Even so, last years expenditure on the various kinds of scholarship came to R$ 153.15 million, or 33.63% of FAPESP’s total disbursement in the period, as shown in the graph on page 28 and the table on page 29. It is obvious that, in spite of the great competition, disbursements with scholarships remains high, and the same happens with their approvals, as shown in the table on page 29.

In the total for the year, 4,108 new applications for scholarships were approved, of which 3,959 for domestic scholarships. In some modalities, such as Direct Doctorate and Postdoctoral, the number of approvals corresponds, respectively, to 62.2% and 66.3% of the demand. In the Scientific Initiation modality, the scholarships approved correspond to 64.4% of the demand.”With this level of approval, FAPESP has committed a significant percentage of its budget to scholarships. The forecast for 2004 is that there will be an increase in the budget and in investment in scholarships in the order of 12%, which will bring about an increase in the number of scholarships awarded”, advises FAPESP’s president.

Regular grants
In 2002, FAPESP approved 3,141 new applications for regular grants in all the modalities. Disbursement with this support line totaled R$ 197.64 million, corresponding to 43.39% of the total spent by the Foundation in the period (see graph and table). Of the total disbursed, 92.92% was intended for the modality of grants for research projects. With the thematic projects – those carried out by larger teams, sometimes from several research institutions – R$ 60.91 million was spent and 55 new projects approved.

The demand for and the awarding of regular grants by the Foundation have grown throughout the decade of the 1990s. In the period from 1993 to 2002, applications went up from 2,800 to 4,896, which corresponds to an expansion of 74.9%. In the same period, the number of projects approved went from 1,788 to 3,141, a 75.7% growth.Together with the scholarships, the regular grants make up FAPESP’s traditional line for fostering research, one of the Foundation’s priorities. In the last few years, they have been absorbing about two thirds of the funds disbursed each year. The modalities of grants supported by the Foundation are research grants, publication grants, grants for participation in scientific and/or technological meetings in Brazil and abroad, grants for bringing visiting researchers, and grants for organizing scientific meetings.

2002 was not a year for launching new programs, but for consolidating the existing ones. Over the year, R$ 45.23 million was spent on the Special Programs and R$ 59.43 million on the Technological Innovation Programs. These amounts represent, respectively, 9.93% and 13.05% of FAPESP’s total outlays (see graph and table).The Special Programs comprise those created by the Foundation with the objective of qualifying human resources in strategic areas, or where there is a small number of staff, of modernizing the physical infrastructure of the state research system, and of assuring researchers electronic access to data and information from Brazil and abroad. In short, to provide support for the formation and improved performance of the research activity.

Last year, the following Special Programs were under way: Support for Young Researchers, Qualification of Human Resources in Support of Research (or Technical Qualification), Public Teaching, Incentive for Scientific Journalism (Scientific Media) and ANSP – Academic Network at São Paulo. The Infrastructure Program, already closed off, still had in 2002 disbursements referring to projects approved in previous years.R$ 16.50 million was spent on the Support for Young Researchers Program. The remaining projects of the Infrastructure Program and the ANSP network absorbed R$ 12.61 million and R$ 11.33 million respectively.

The objective of the Support for Young Researchers program is to form new groups and leaders in research in emerging centers of the state of São Paulo. The ANSP Network, in turn, provides fundamental support for teaching and research activities. It links the academic computer networks and those of scientific and technological research institutes and centers in the state of São Paulo among themselves and with Brazil and abroad. It is the ANSP network that is the route to the Internet from all the institutions linked to the state science and technology system.In the Infrastructure Program, now closed off for receiving projects, R$ 505 million has been disbursed since its creation in 1995, on recovering and modernizing laboratories, vivaria, computer networks, libraries and museums of universities and research institutes in the state.

Technological Innovation
The Technological Innovation Programs comprise those created by the Foundation, the results of whose research have obvious potential for technological innovation or for applying in the formulation of public policies. Some of them have this as their main objective. In 2002, the following programs were under way: Genome-FAPESP, Biota-FAPESP, Research in Public Policies, Research, Innovation and Diffusion Centers, Small Business Innovation Research (PIPE), Partnership for Technological Innovation (PITE), Sectorial Consortiums for Technological Innovation (ConSITec), Intellectual Property Support Program (PAPI/Nuplitec), Technology for Advanced Internet Innovation (Tidia), Structural Molecular Biology Network (SMolBNet), Viral Genetic Diversity Network (VGDN) and the Integrated Hydrometeorology System of the State of São Paulo (Sihesp). In 2002, R$ 15.78 million was spent on the ten Cepids financed by FAPESP. These are the centers of Applied Toxinology, of Structural Molecular Biology, of Research in Optics andPhotonics, of Cell Therapy, of Human Genome Studies, of Studies of the Metropolis, of Sleep Studies, of Studies of Violence, the Multidisciplinary Center for the Development of Ceramic Materials, and the Antonio Prudente Cancer Research and Treatment Center.

Several of them have already had noteworthy results, such as a new antihypertensive drug from the poison of the jararaca snake, the perfecting of the photodynamic therapy technique in cancer treatment, and the development of a skin cancer diagnosis system using laser light. With the Genome-FAPESP program, R$ 14.87 million has been disbursed, and with PITE and PIPE, R$ 9.89 million and R$ 9.55 million respectively. Since its launch, in June 1997, up to last year, PIPE had approved 235 research projects carried out in small enterprises. In 2002 alone, 65 new projects were approved. PITE, in turn, since its launch at the end of 1994 until last year had already approved 70 research projects that are carried out in the form of a partnership between a research institution and a company. In 2002, 12 new projects were improved.

Profile of the expenditure
If the projects approved and the total spent by FAPESP in fostering research in 2002 are classified in three categories – Basic Research aimed exclusively at the advancement of knowledge, Basic Research with a potential for application, and Applied Research -, it will be found that the last two have almost the same weight, with a slight advantage for applied research. With the projects classified like this, it took 39.83% of the total disbursed in the year, and the second category took 38.06%. In number of projects approved, 39.53% were classified in the applied research category and 36.89% as basic research with a potential for application.

Unlike what these percentages may indicate at first sight, the profile of disbursements reflects also the Foundation’s commitment to the advancement of knowledge, the first purpose of basic research, in either of its two categories. Together, they were given 60.16% of the funds, and their projects correspond to 60.47% of the number of projects approved in the year.Scholarships were not taken into consideration for this classification, but only the regular and thematic grants and the grants associated with the programs Support for Young Researchers, Biota-FAPESP, Genome-FAPESP, PITE, PIPE, ConSITec and Public Teaching.