The Innovation Law came into effect on the 11th of October when the decree stating its regulations was published. It does away with the requirement that public research institutions carry out bidding tenders for the transfer or licensing of technology; authorizes the sum of public resources directly to companies and allows for researchers performing activities in the private sector, amongst other measures set to stimulate and develop technology.
“The decree brings important advances”, recognizes Carlos Henrique de Brito Cruz, FAPESP’s scientific director. “Subvention is an important instrument for stimulating industrial research and development as it reduces the activity’s risk factor and is practiced in the main countries that defend the industrial capability to carry out R&D.” The licensing of academic patents, in his evaluation, may generate lots of relevant entrepreneurial opportunities, as was the case with the licensing of the nanoparticles technology for pigments, the Biphor, developed at the State University of Campinas (Unicamp) (see page 80).
The regulating of the law was also well received at the São Paulo universities. “We needed to get rid of the bids tenders in order to facilitate the licensing of patents”, comments Luiz Nunes, the research pro-rector at the University of Sao Paulo (USP). USP makes use of special agents in order to promote its patents together with the clients before any auction bid and has problems establishing values for the payment of commissions. Nunes also considers “progress” the fact that the university can, starting from now, grant an unpaid leave to researchers interested in constructing or associating themselves with innovative companies. “It’ll give results to the company and to the university.” Nevertheless, he was concerned with the maximum percentage of one third of the economic profits to be received by the institution to which the researcher had the right in the cases of technology transfer and licensing. “At USP, the practice is set at 50%. This would be a backward step.”
However, Daniel Pereira, the research pro-rector at Unicamp, underlines that the law, on its own, will not achieve its basic objective, which is to increase the competitiveness of the productive sectors. “One needs the State to develop incentive policies towards technological development that involve all of the government organs.”
USP and Unicamp have already established an organism for the management of innovation forecast in the law – the Innovation Agency and the Inovacamp, respectively. The São Paulo State University (Unesp) has already begun to organize its own. “We’re setting up an technological innovation board that’s going to set out the policy on the university’s intellectual property”, says Jose Arana Varela, the research pro-rector at Unesp.
Companies are looking upon the decree with skepticism. The National Association of Research, Development and Engineering of Innovative Companies (Anpei) fears for the discontinuity of subvention, a threat that would already be anticipated in the very decree that attributed to the ministers of Science and Technology, of Development, Industry and Foreign Commerce and of the Treasury, the task of annually defining the percentages of resources from the National Fund for Scientific and Technological Development (FNDCT) that will be destined to economic subvention. In the opinion of Mauricio Mendonça, the coordinator of Industrial Competitiveness of the National Confederation of Industry (CNI), the companies had hoped that the decree would already have fixed a percentage for subvention. “The MCT today has a reasonable volume of resources in the sectorial funds that would allow for defining a value”, he argues.Republish