FAPESP increased its volume of funding aimed at science and technology research in the state of São Paulo by 6.5% in 2013. Outlays for scholarships and grants to support research totaled R$1.1 billion, a record in the Foundation’s 52-year history, as shown in the 2013 Annual Activity Report, released at Foundation headquarters August 27, 2014, along with an exposition of the works of Brazilian artist Renina Katz that illustrate the publication. Between 2008 and 2013, FAPESP disbursements grew nearly 73%. “Investments by FAPESP contribute to the effectiveness of research carried out in São Paulo on topics of major impact in the academic, social and economic arenas essential to progress in São Paulo State, which is responsible for half of the knowledge generated in Brazil overall,” says Celso Lafer, Foundation president.
One of the 2013 highlights is related to investments in innovation. The 167 new projects contracted under the Innovative Research in Small Businesses program (PIPE), which grants loans to research projects executed by small businesses, many of which are startups established at universities and research institutes located in São Paulo State, represent 108% growth compared to 2012. These achievements contributed to those of PAPPE/PIPE, a federal program that supports small business research in São Paulo and which targets phase 3 of the PIPE (applied research). This means that every week for one year, three small businesses in São Paulo received FAPESP funding to develop research projects that would lead to the introduction of new products or processes to benefit the Brazilian economy and society.
Another FAPESP initiative that made great strides in 2013 was the Research, Innovation and Dissemination Centers (RIDC) program. The RIDC program began in 2000 with funding to 11 world-class research centers in several fields from 2001 a 2012. All of them achieved their proposed objectives. In 2011, a second round of calls for proposals was announced, and it received 90 projects, which were analyzed extensively by 150 peer reviewers in Brazil and abroad. In 2013,17 proposals were selected. The 17 RIDCs now include 499 scientists from the state of São Paulo and 68 scientists from other countries. They will receive nearly R$1.4 billion over an 11-year period. The goal of the centers, dedicated to subjects as diverse as neuromathematics, inflammatory diseases, violence and nutrition, is to generate world-class international multidisciplinary research on the frontier of knowledge. The centers are also tasked with producing innovation and transferring knowledge to the productive sector or supporting the establishment of public policies.
One example of FAPESP’s emphasis on innovation and industry integration was the establishment of Engineering Research Centers in strategic areas for technological development in the state of São Paulo. These centers, sponsored by the Foundation and private companies, have obtained long-term financing and are engaged in cutting-edge research along the same lines as the RIDCs. Four companies—the automaker Peugeot Citroën Brasil, the Brazilian cosmetics company Natura, the oil and gas company BG Brasil and the multinational pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline (GSK)—signed cooperation agreements with FAPESP, followed by the issue of calls for proposals to establish the centers, which will bring researchers from São Paulo’s institutions together with these companies. Through these agreements, FAPESP and its partner companies will share investments of R$114 million for a 5-10 year period. Says Carlos Henrique de Brito Cruz, FAPESP scientific director, “these engineering research centers, co-financed from the start by companies, are something seen in only a few countries, and they will contribute to further increasing the impact of research in São Paulo.”
The report shows that in 2013 FAPESP received a total of 13,272 scholarship requests, 10.58% more than in 2012, in addition to 6,798 requests for regular grants, grants in special programs and in research programs for technological innovation. Total requests numbered 20,070. When analyzed according to funding objectives, 39% of the expenditures supported advancing knowledge (R$ 428.40 million, 12% more than in 2012). This means that they were invested in programs that train human resources and encourage academic research through grants and scholarships (see Infographic ). Support to application-driven research accounted for 52% of disbursements (R$ 577.61 million, 6% over 2012). This line includes investments in research in the fields of agronomy and veterinary sciences, engineering and health, that are nearly always application-driven, in addition to programs that encourage innovation at universities and small business and some special Foundation programs. Finally, 9% were invested in support for infrastructure, including improvement and modernization of laboratories at institutions of higher education or research, updates to library collections, purchases of equipment and ensuring that researchers have access to high-speed Internet.
The fields that received the largest volume of resources were: health (30.77%); biology (16.07%); the human and social sciences (10.20%); engineering (9.69%); and agronomy and veterinary sciences (9.34%). When looking at researcher institutional affiliation, most resources were allocated to projects coordinated by researchers at the University of São Paulo (USP), (R$516.96 million); São Paulo State University (Unesp), (R$161.83 million); and the University of Campinas (Unicamp), (R$152.32 million). Federal higher education and research institutions in the state received R$141.14 million, most notably the Federal University of São Paulo (Unifesp), which was allocated R$58.73 million, the Federal University of São Carlos (UFSCar), which was allocated R$35.63 million, and institutes associated with the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation, which were allocated R$27.10 million.
Ongoing efforts by FAPESP to encourage international collaboration have reached new heights. In 2013, FAPESP Week science symposia were held in Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States, bringing together nearly 600 Brazilian and foreign researchers in areas of common research interest. At the March meeting in Tokyo, the symposium was organized in cooperation with the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS). The September event in London was organized in cooperation with the Royal Society with support from the British Council. In the United States, three cities in the state of North Carolina hosted events in November in partnership with the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, North Carolina State University, and the Brazil Institute of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.
The Foundation ended 2013 with 123 signed cooperation agreements (36 national and 87 international) in addition to five memoranda of understanding, letters and protocols of intention with universities and research institutions, to foster academic exchanges, and with companies and funding agencies, to co-finance high-impact research projects. Of this total, 22 were signed in 2013: 19 with institutions from 11 different countries, including four with which FAPESP had not previously had official agreements (Japan, South Africa, Australia and Chile).
Eighty percent of the 55 requests for proposals published in 2013 offered funding for research involving international collaborative efforts and scientific exchanges, 55% more than in 2012. This constitutes a significant increase in interest for scientific exchanges. FAPESP supported 2,307 projects of this type in 2013, 15% more than in 2012. Another outcome of this international exposure is that FAPESP post-doctoral fellowships based in Brazil have attracted increased numbers of researchers from other countries to São Paulo. In 2013, 20% of the awards were granted to researchers from other countries (190 of the 960 scholarships granted), a percentage that stood at 7% in 2008. What young people from outside Brazil are mainly attracted to are the fields of exact sciences, earth sciences, biological sciences and engineering. On the opposite side, scholarships abroad grew from 174 in 2008 to 1,118 in 2013, thanks to the Foundation’s program for Scholarships for Research Internships Abroad (BEPE).Republish