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Entrepreneurial exploration

A researcher takes advantage of an opportunity in the environmental licensing market

Léo RamosArchaeologist and businesswoman Solange Caldarelli always says that she had a “strictly academic” vision when she was a researcher. In the space of ten years she worked at the former Institute of Prehistory at the University of São Paulo (USP) School of Philosophy, Letters and the Humanities and the Emílio Goeldi Museum in the state of Pará, and she was involved in basic research in archeology at both. In 1988, she left academic life to devote herself to the then-fledgling market of archeology applied to environmental licensing. “I fell in love with this branch of archeology,” Caldarelli confesses. Before long, she founded Scientia Consultoria, where she has been the director for nearly 25 years. The firm currently has 200 employees throughout Brazil with clients in the logistics, mining, construction and electricity sectors.

Just like the archeology that is practiced in universities, entrepreneurial archeology, or contract archeology as it is also called, searches for evidence from the past. But its purpose is to assess the impacts that projects can have on materials from the past and indicate the best ways to avoid these impacts. “This work is part of the environmental licensing that is required for work to begin,” Caldarelli explains. Taking the entrepreneurial route, she and her team had the opportunity to research more than 100 archeological sites identified where the Belo Monte hydroelectric plant is being built in the state of Pará. This example illustrates the momentum of entrepreneurial archeology in Brazil, driven by major infrastructure projects.” Today, archaeologists who want to work in the environmental licensing field need to know that they will be working in a multifaceted environment and will have to deal with issues of environmental law and biology, for example,” says Caldarelli.

For anyone interested in pursuing this area, Caldarelli says archeologists should seek out specialized firms that are looking for interns. “The university provides adequate conditions for those who wish to pursue an academic career in archeology, but it does not prepare professionals to work in environmental licensing.” For these reasons, their transition from the university to the entrepreneurial archeology market was made through the personal effort to seek references that at the time were outside Brazil. “I had to trace the paths of my own training. I took courses with proponents in Brazil and abroad, and I endeavored to interact with the right people, who today are considered pioneers in environmental assessment in Brazil,” says Caldarelli.