Mutual benefits

Director of Swedish agency bets on partnership with Brazilians

Eduardo CesarCharlotte Brogren: sustainable technologiesEduardo Cesar

Brazil and Sweden are to establish new partnership agreements in the fields of technology and innovation, to be directed by an institution headquartered in the town of São Bernardo do Campo (São Paulo state), which is to coordinate the activities of researchers, companies and governments of both countries. The Swedish-Brazilian Center for Research and Innovation (CISB) was officially created last month, during the visit to Brazil of the Swedish premier, Fredrik Reinfeldt. An initiative of the Swedish company Saab, it has already brought together 40 partners, such as the University of Linköping, and, the Swedish Governmental Agency for Innovation Systems, Vinnova, on the side of the Nordic country, and the Federal University of the ABC Area (UFABC) and the Brazilian Agency for Industrial Development (ABDI), on the Brazilian side. The center’s target is to encourage research and development partnering agreements in three areas: energy and the environment; transport and logistics; and defense, aeronautics and security. Teams of experts are to help the interested parties to create the projects.

According to Charlotte Brogren, director-general of Vinnova, the next two years will be fundamental for the evaluation of the potential of the collaboration. “The two countries have a history of partnership, driven by major Swedish companies present in Brazilian industrial regions, especially in São Paulo. Currently, the governments would like to organize this partnership agreement better and in connection with this we have identified a substantial number of opportunities. Our challenge now is to transform these opportunities into actual projects,” said Charlotte, a 48-year old engineer that built her career in corporate research and development centers (see interview). Since 2010, she has headed an agency whose aim is to link the activities of universities and companies in order to create sustainable technologies with promising applications. The following important projects are among those supported: the development of intelligent networks that monitor power distribution and can inform consumers as to the cost of power before they decide to use it; traffic control systems; and recycling programs for underground cables in the streets of Swedish cities.

One of the results of the cooperation was a partnering agreement signed in 2007 by the Brazilian firm Vale Solução em Energia (VSE) and the Swedish firm Scania for the development, production and marketing of ethanol engines and their applications. Since last year, representatives of both countries have met in Brazil twice, in order to map out new opportunities, work that led to the establishment of the center. For the Vinnova director, Brazil and Sweden have innovation systems with different profiles, but collaboration might yield mutual benefits. “Sweden has a small domestic market, which drove many of our companies to become global. Therefore, they had to strive to become the best and to gain competitiveness – and one should note that Sweden is not exactly a country with the world’s lowest costs,” she states. Brazil, with its major domestic market, did not experience the same pressure, but globalization is changing this. “Companies from several countries are coming into Brazil. Brazilian companies are realizing that they have to invest in innovation to safeguard their position in the domestic market and also to become global,” she says. Global competition, she observes, encourages partnering agreements. “Never before has it been as important to form alliances as it is today. It is now virtually impossible for a single country or a single company to do everything on its own.”