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Important partnership agreements

FAPESP enters into cooperation agreements with UK research councils and university

MARCOS GARUTISão Paulo and United Kingdom researchers will have the opportunity to intensify and strengthen scientific collaboration, thanks to two cooperation agreements that FAPESP entered into in London last month. The first was signed on September 15 with RCUK, the Research Councils of the United Kingdom. The second, signed on the following day, was with King’s College London, which became the first British university to partner with FAPESP. The aim of both agreements is the same: to encourage and support joint projects proposed by São Paulo and UK researchers. “The international dimension is an important ingredient in the strenthening of FAPESP cooperation with British institutions and it is a way of establishing a process to further the integration and joint work of researchers,” said Celso Lafer, the president of FAPESP.

The Research Councils of the United Kingdom invest some £ 2.8 billion (R$8 billion) a year. There are seven councils, each of which is responsible for supporting research in a given field of knowledge. At the ceremony where the agreement was signed, the fact that this was the first time that the seven councils came together to sign a partnering agreement with a foreign agency was highlighted. “The RCUK are dedicated to promoting collaboration with the best of the best and this agreement shows how committed we are to expanding opportunities for researchers,” explained Ian Diamond, president of RCUK.

British researchers, along with their colleagues from São Paulo State institutions, are to present joint proposals to one or more RCUK entities. The latter will then inform FAPESP about the project’s submission. The analysis of the project will be conducted simultaneously in Brazil and in the UK. The rules and timetable for submitting proposals are to be released in the near future. FAPESP and the RCUK will allocate resources to each project to the extent that each country’s researchers take part in it. “The idea behind the agreement is to support research that aims at scientific discoveries with major impact worldwide, in all fields of knowledge,” says the scientific director of FAPESP, Carlos Henrique de Brito Cruz..

The acknowledgment of the importance of scientific production in Brazil – and in São Paulo in particular – was a determinant in making the FAPESP/RCUK agreement feasible. “At the ceremony at which the agreement was signed, various scientists made presentations that had an element in common: they highlighted the quality of research conducted in São Paulo, in terms of its impact and of the subjects studied,” stated Brito Cruz, from FAPESP. “This acknowledgment shows a good opportunity for Brazilian researchers to explore.”

032-033_ReinoUnido_164It is a well known fact that Brazilian science has been achieving greater global visibility: the number of national scientific journals indexed in the international Web of Science-ISI (Wos) database increased by 205% from 2002 to 2008. The reason for this growth, according to Thomson Reuters, which is responsible for WoS, has been the growth of world interest in Brazilian scientific research, the quality of which has become better known. Support from promotional agencies is one of the main drivers fuelling the country’s research. FAPESP, for instance, invested R$637.9 million in 2008 in aid to scientific and technological research. “Researchers from the State of São Paulo now account for 50% of the scientific articles published in foreign journals,” states Brito Cruz. Thomson Reuters data from 2007 shows that the São Paulo contribution stands out in the fields of clinical medicine (62% of the national total), materials (58%), biology and biochemistry (56%), genetics and molecular biology (55%), in particular.

In a presentation made at the RCUK agreement signing, Jonathan Adams, from Evidence, a research data analysis company connected to Thomson Reuters, presented data according to which the impact of São Paulo research is significantly greater than the Brazilian average (see graph). “In certain fields of research, it is evident that São Paulo is not only above the country’s average impact level, but also above the world average,” he stated, in reference to the contribution of this state’s researchers to fields such as medicine, nuclear physics, materials and biodiversity conservation. Adams’s conclusion, based on Evidence’s technical analyses, was that São Paulo is an excellent partner for international collaboration thanks to its strong and growing research base.

In the case of King’s College London, the partnership agreement will also support joint research projects – which may include the exchange of researchers and graduate students – in all fields of knowledge, selected by means of calls for proposals, which are to be released every two years. These calls may involve areas of priority, to be determined by a management committee in charge of managing the program.

King’s College is among the world’s top 25 institutions of higher education, according the 2008 Times Higher Education survey. Established in 1829 by King George IV and by the Duke of Wellington, the Prime Minister at the time, it is England’s fourth oldest university. “We are glad that FAPESP has chosen us as a partner for international research projects,” said Keith Hoggart, Vice-Principal of Arts and Sciences of this British college. “Brazil is a very important country for our institution and I am sure that signing this agreement will mark the start of an important collaboration that will encourage research relations and lead to the development of high quality research in all fields of knowledge.” The agreement adds to the several connections already established between King’s College London and São Paulo teaching and research institutions, such as the University of São Paulo. The British college is home to the Center for the Study of Brazilian Culture and Society.