Campinas showed why it was chosen as one of the 46 world technological innovation centers by the United Nations Organization (UNO) – in the Technological Accomplishment Index – during the first Science and Technology for Development Exhibition – Cientec 2001, held from August 24 to September 22, at the State University of Campinas (Unicamp). Eleven research and teaching institutions came together to exhibit innovations developed in their laboratories, in order to get close to people – and to encourage primary and high school students – in the scientific and technological production field.
During the ten days of visits to the stands and the 21 debates on three basic topics – Life and Health, Technology, and the Environment – integration between researchers, technicians and the public was promoted. “Our greatest wish was to popularize Science and technology and give people in the region an opportunity to understand better the work of researchers at Unicamp and the other ten institutions taking part in this event”, commented the physicist Carlos Henrique de Brito Cruz, director of Unicamp’s Physics Institute (IF) and president of FAPESP.
At the opening of the Cientec 2001, the minister of Science and Technology, Ronaldo Sardenberg, emphasized that the event at Unicamp is an example of the idea that Science and technology in this country is beginning to change. “The important thing is the challenge of continuing the adventure of knowledge, freedom for research, and its application to the benefit of society”, he said. In his opinion, the exhibition makes the topic of technology to be increasingly assimilated by ordinary people and by various sections of society. “Brazil cannot remain at the margin of the new world economy. In this globalized system, scientific knowledge translates into added value for products and services”, said the minister.
History and innovation
One of the stands at the fair that best illustrated the purpose of the exhibition was that of Unicamp’s Physics Institute, showing the main accomplishments in teaching and research in the field of fiber optics communications in telecommunications. On display were various items of equipment, such as optical amplifiers and couplers used in telecommunications switchboards to improve telephone, Internet and cable TV transmission signals.
“Studies in fiber optics at Campinas began in 1971, and therefore have been going on for 30 years and the idea is to improve our research”, commented the physicist Hugo Fragnito, who coordinates the work of the Ultra-Rapid and Optical Communications Phenomena Group at Unicamp’s Physics Institute. Fragnito is also the technology transfer coordinator at the Optics and Photonics Research Center, one of FAPESP’s Innovation and Dissemination Research Centers (Cepid). “Companies established within the Physics Institute already gross more than R$ 250 million a year”, points out professor Brito.
The telecommunications and information technology fields were also well represented by the National Information Technology Institute (ITI) and the Telecommunications Development Research Center Foundation (CPqD) stands, which showed products developed in the institution’s 25 years.
Work at the universities
Telecommunications and software development are two of the town’s technological brands and they help generate wealth for the city. Campinas today accounts for 10.6% of the state’s Gross Domestic Product, or 3.2% of the country’s GDP. Figures from the State of São Paulo Science and Technology Department show that the region has attracted each year around US$ 2.5 billion in private investment. “But none of this would have happened without the work of the universities, hence the importance of teaching and research in developing ideas, products and services for the well-being of society”, commented the rector of Unicamp, Hermano Tavares.
Another feature of the Cientec 2001 was the National Synchrotron Light Laboratory (LNLS) stand and its exhibition of light sources, robots and miniaturized parts that are part of the Multi-user Micro-manufacturing Project (Musa). “An example of micro-structure built experimentally at the LNLS is that of the micro-strainers with mesh of less than 20 microns, used to filter toxic particles in industrial effluent”, said Luiz Otávio Saraiva Ferreira, leader of the LNLS’s Micro-manufacturing Group.
Another micro-structure is the milk bacteria counter, capable to complete analyses in 40 minutes. The LNLS also develops chemical micro-reactors for analyzing DNA, urine and blood, spending less time and money”, says Ferreira.Also at the LNLS stand, children and adolescents were able to enjoy themselves with a curious robotic tic-tac-toe, whose main function is to encourage understanding the production process of industrial equipment. In handling the game, with the help of a robot, we see a collection of pieces of research into the most wide-ranging fields: information technology, electronics, mechanics and design.
The most traditional field of Campinas’s scientific and technological vocation was to be seen at the stands of the institutions associated with food production, agriculture, and the environment, such as the Food Technology Institute (Ital), the Integral Technical Support Coordination (Cati), the Zootechny Institute (IZ) and the Campinas Agronomic Institute (IAC). In this context, scale models were on display reproducing the regions ecosystems, organic seed sowing, and even test-tube calves. The IAC also displayed bunches of seedless grapes and new varieties of coffee and passion fruit. In the same area, the Biological Institute (IB) was also exhibiting its vegetable disease combating programs, and the Brazilian Farming Research Company (Embrapa) was exhibiting new technology for biological pest control and soil treatment.
The Pontifical Catholic University of Campinas (PUC-Campinas) emphasized its teaching programs and its research into health and public policy, such as encouraging reading among people living in the poor outskirts of Campinas. As well as taking part in the exhibition as one of the main sponsors, alongside Telefônica, FAPESP set up a 400-square-meter stand for visitors to learn more about its activities in support of research in various fields of knowledge, such as the Genome project, public policy programs and encouragement of technological innovation in small companies.