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New figures for R&D

Private sector employs 37% of Brazilian researchers

NEGREIROSIndustrial companies employed 29,086 persons in Research and Development (R&D) activities in 2002, far more than the previously estimated 10,000. This expansion is not the result of an increase in the number of people taken on in the private sector, but of changes in the methodology for calculating the personnel employed in the sector. Until recently, the Ministry of Science and Technology (MCT) registered the number of persons involved in the Research and Development (R&D) activity, taking as a basis the information gathered by the National Association for Research, Development and Engineering in Innovative Companies (Anpei), in a universe never more than a thousand companies. “Besides being relatively small, the array of companies investigated would vary every year, which made it very difficult to compare results”, comments Sinésio Pires Ferreira, the MCT’s coordinator for Statistics and Indicators.

The MCT has now started to use the figures from the Technological Innovation Survey (Pintec), carried out by the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE) on 72,005 industrial concerns with ten or more persons employed, and made public last October. Pintec expanded the survey and revealed, for example, that 37% of the 77,822 researchers with a university degree are in the private sector.

In the MCT’s reckoning, Brazil has 163,945 people involved in R&D activities, included therein researchers, postgraduate students (34,048) and research support personnel (52,075). Of this total, 53.1% are linked to institutes of higher education, 39.2% are in companies, and 7.3% are working in government bodies. In Brazil, the absolute numbers are not bad when compared with the other countries. But if we take into account the Economically Active Population (EAP), the situation is different. Here, only 1.5 in 1,000 persons of the EAP is a researcher. In Korea, this ratio is 4.6 per 1,000, and in Canada, 5.8 per 1,000″, is the comparison made by Pires Ferreira.

Technical-scientific occupations
This discrepancy becomes even clearer when one observes the number of persons in technical-scientific occupations and/or with higher education, in relation to the EAP as a whole. The methodology for comparison is recommended in the Canberra Manual, of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), to assess the level of training of human resources involved in activities in the sector. “The OECD’s argument is that, for there to be science and technology – their production and, in particular, the spreading of their results – it is desirable for countries to have a growing number of educated people”, Pires Ferreira explains.

Following the suggestion of the OECD and using the data collected by the IBGE’s National Household Sampling Survey (PNAD), the MCTfound that in 1999, there were in Brazil 12.4 million persons included in technical-scientific occupations or who had a higher education, which represented 15.7% of the EAP. In addition, a mere 3.41 million, or 4.3% of the EAP, had both of these attributes. Furthermore, this percentage has been going up very slowly since 1992.

In a comparison with other countries, Brazil comes out badly. In Spain, the percentage of people with a higher education employed in technical-scientific activities represents 13% of the EAP. In France and the United Kingdom, this figure is 15%; and in Belgium, it is close to the 20% mark. It is worth observing that the proportion of human resources with a higher education and in technical-scientific activities in the EAP has gone up quite steeply since 1995. “The difference is that Brazil has not been capable of creating jobs with these characteristics any faster, although the level of schooling of its population has gone up considerably over recent years”, says Pires Ferreira.

Private investments
The figures from Pintec also reveal that private companies came in participated with R$ 4.4 billion out of total spending on R&D of R$ 11.5 billion in 2000, about 50% more than the R$ 3 billion calculated for 1999, based on data collected by Anpei. The federal government accounted for investments of R$ 5 billion, and the state governments, R$ 2 billion. Even so, spending continues to be concentrated in the public sector, which is responsible for 60% of the investments. “If we want to increase investments in R&D, there ought to be a larger participation of the private sector, since public spending is up to the standards of the developed countries”, explains Pires Ferreira.

He sustains his argument, comparing the investments in R&D by several countries in relation to the GDP. Brazil invests 1.05% of its GDP in the sector, less than Canada, which spends 1.94%, and more than Spain, with 0.9%. “But the spending of the country’s public sector, 0.63% of the GDP, is similar to that of Canada, with 0.62%, and of Korea, with 0.61%”, he underlines. The great difference lies in the participation of private investments, which in Brazil is 0.40% of the GDP, against 1.73% in Korea or 1.90% in the United States.