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Limited innovation

Purchase of machinery and equipment is main principal technological investment by companies, according to the IBGE

BRAZBrazilian industry invested 3.84% of its revenues on technological innovation during the year 2000, according to the Research on Technological Innovation (Pintec) survey, released by the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE). Of the 70,000 consulted industrial companies with ten or more people employed, 31.5% of them had implemented innovations in products and/or processes between 1998 and 2000. Of the 70,000 companies, 6.3% innovated in products, 13.9% in production processes and 11.3% in products and processes. The percentage of companies that created something new was 17.6%. Of those, only a quarter presented the new idea to the national market.

However, for 76.6% of the companies, the main innovation activity dealt with the purchase of machinery and equipment, independent from the size of the company. The purchase of machinery in the total cost of innovation decreased in the reverse order to the size of the company, but even so it represents, in this category, more than 40%. This conclusion fits in with the results of the survey “Industry and the Technology Question”, sponsored by the National Confederation of Industry (CNI) and by the Financier of Studies and Projects (Finep), given out at the beginning of August.

The investment of companies in machinery with greater technology contributed towards innovation in the processes. “Nevertheless, even being an important part of innovative activity, the purchase of equipment in general did not substitute the activity of the creation of knowledge, generically denominated as Research and Development (R&D)”, observes Carlos Henrique de Brito Cruz, the rector of the State University of Campinas (Unicamp). A student of the question of innovation, Brito observes that without the entrepreneurial activities of R&D it will not be possible to develop the Brazilian economy.

Pintec identified some 41,600 people involved in R&D in the companies consulted, half of them graduates from university. It discovered that 48.84% of these people dedicated themselves solely to R&D, while 51.16% worked at it on a temporary basis. According to Brito, the number of people with tertiary level education involved in R&D shows that there is still little activity in the creation of knowledge in companies in Brazil. “In a universe of 70,000 companies, there is less than one person with tertiary level education in each company, dedicating themselves to creating knowledge. This is extremely small”, he concludes.

International methodology
In decreasing order, the second and third innovative activities in the Pintec survey ranking are complementary to the purchase of technologically more advanced machinery: they are, respectively, training, according to 59.06% of the companies consulted, and industrial projects, in the evaluation of 44.08%. At the opposite end of the scale, of least relevance, one can find the acquisition of knowledge from abroad, which is not incorporated into machinery.

The survey, carried out for the first time in the country, is a result of a partnership of the IBGE with Finep, from the Ministry of Science and Technology, and will be updated every three years. It used methodology applied internationally, which allows comparisons with the performance of countries from the European Union, Canada, Australia, among others. The level of innovation in Brazilian companies is very similar to that of Spain, where 34.8% of their companies invest 1.86% in the development of new products and processes. There as well the spending is concentrated on items of machinery and equipment (41.28%).

The most innovative industrial sectors, according to Pintec, attaining levels greater than 60%, were, for example, that of the manufacture of office machinery and of information technology equipment (68.5%), basic electronic material (62.9%), devices and equipment for communication (62.1%), among others, which equally characterized themselves by the quick incorporation of technical/scientific knowledge. The lowest levels were found in groups with extractive activities, except for the sectors of the manufacture of cellulose and other pastes (51.8%) and of the refining of petroleum (39.4%).

Pintec also confirmed that the number of companies who carry out R&D in an occasionally was greater than those that invest continuously. In the former case, this is the vast majority of the companies with up to ninety nine employees; and in the latter, the vast majority of companies with one hundred or more employees. The first conclusion is that, the larger the company the more it will continuously invest in R&D. Whilet the in the lower sized companies, only 27.8% systematically carried out R&D, in the larger companies this percentage rose to 79.9%.

The vast majority of the companies consulted during the Pintec survey stated that they implement innovation in order to maintain their position in the market (79.60%), to broaden that position (71.02%) or to improve the quality of their products (78.27%).