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Federal Government

A physicist at the head of the ministry

Sergio Rezende assumes Science and Technology and guarantees that he will not change his predecessor's strategies

Sergio Rezende, a physicist from the state of Pernambuco, is the new minister of Science and Technology. With his doctorate degree in applied physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and a graduate in electronic engineering from the Catholic Pontificate University (PUC) of Rio de Janeiro, Rezende is a respected intellectual and recognized throughout the country for his efforts in the defense of a national system for science and technology within the country. For example, his participation was fundamental in the discussions that led to the founding of the Science and Technology Support Foundation of Pernambuco (Facepe), during 1989, the first among the state development agencies in the North East. In the last government of Miguel Arraes, between 1995 and 1998, he was the state secretary of Science, Technology and the Environment. Between January of 2001 and January of 2003, he was the secretary of Patrimony, Science and Culture in the city of Olinda, until he assumed the presidency of the Financier of Studies and Projects (Finep), an agency founded in 1967 with the goal of financing innovation and scientific and technological research in companies.

Rezende, who is a sitting member of the Brazilian Academy of Science, substituted the ex-minister Eduardo Campos, who returned to the Chamber of Deputies to reinforce the parliamentary base of president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. Rezende has already announced that he will not be changing the ‘strategies and priorities’ and not even the team of his predecessor at the MST. He promised to maintain, and if possible to intensify, the discussions and partnerships with federal and state government entities with the National Bank for Economic and Social Development (BNDES) and the Federal Caixa Economica, among others, in such a way as to harmonize science and technology policies. For example, during his first interview as the new minister, Rezende announced that the Finep is going to launch, over the next few weeks, the Zero Interest Rate Program, which will destine R$ 100 million towards small innovative companies that do not have real guarantees to contract financing on the open market. The resources will have their origin in a partnership with the Workers Support Fund (FAT in the Portuguese acronym). The companies, he hastened to add, have already been chosen and each one of them will receive loans of up to R$ 900,000 or the equivalent of 1/3 of their previous year’s income to be paid back in one hundred installments.

The vice-president of the International Union for Pure and Applied Physics since 1977, he also promised to involve “with greater strength” the entrepreneurial sector in research efforts, innovation development, as he had affirmed in his acceptance speech on the 21st of July. “The Innovation Law, the industrial and technological policy measures and the Provisional Act known as the ‘Bem’ (Good), are important incentive instruments for companies”, he advised.

Rezende is wagering that the regulating of the National Fund for Scientific and Technological Development (FNDCT), already approved by the Chamber of Deputies and currently being studied in the Senate, will guarantee further resources for investments in innovation in the country. “The sectorial funds are important instruments for the funding science and technology actions. There has been great evolution in the availability of the resources of these funds, which in 2002 stood at R$ 32 million and now, in 2005, have risen to R$ 750 million, which will be put to good use”, he evaluated.