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Innovation

Partnership in (dis)harmony

Seminar evaluates legislation and demands new paradigms for research

GONÇALO CÁRCAMOUniversities, research institutes and companies are beginning to test, in practice, the benefits of the laws on Innovation and on the Good that created stimuli for partnerships and tax benefits for investments in developing new technologies. These difficulties were analyzed in the Technological Innovation and Juridical Security seminar, organized by the Center for Strategic Management and Studies (CGEE)) and Brazilian Agency for Industrial Development (ABDI), held in São Paulo, on December 13.

Representatives of innovative companies, development agencies and scientific institutions present at the encounter were unanimous in pointing to the incompatibility of the new policy on innovation with the economic policy that since 2003 has now frozen US$3.4 billion of the Sectorial Funds. “We suffer from long-term shortsightedness and there is discordance in objectives”, underlined Glauco Arbix, from the Sociology Department of the University of São Paulo (USP).

They also identified incongruent points of the new legal landmark with other federal laws – above all with the draconian Law 8666, on public tender processes – and with what they classified as a lack of preparation of the control organisms – such as the Federal Audit Court (TCU) and the Federal Attorney’s Office (AGU) – to “comprehend” this new institutional situation. “For the federal attorney, a researcher cannot incorporate a company to exploit or license technology after depositing the patent”, explained Angel Uller, the director of the Alberto Luiz Coimbra Graduate Engineering Project Coordination (Coppe), of the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ), which since 1994 has been working in partnership with companies. “Some contracts require a clause of partnership with the private sector that the law prohibits”, added Maria Celeste Emerick, the coordinator of Technological Management at Fiocruz.

Conflict
There are also some problems in the very text of the law. An example of this is the requirement to disclose the technology licensing process with exclusivity, which, according to Maria Celeste and Ângela, has created problems with partner companies.

“Is it a conflict of legislation or of culture?” Maria Celeste inquired. For lawyer Rubens Nave, a specialist in administrative law, the problem is that the new legal landmark, which establishes partnerships between the public administration, which has a juridical regime of public law, and civil society, governed by the juridical regime of private law. He recalled that the reform of the State has constituted some bridges between these two systems, as was the case of the creation of the regulatory agencies, social organizations, civil society organizations of public interest (OSCIPs in the Portuguese acronym) and special purpose companies (SPEs in the Portuguese acronym), which still have great difficulty in rendering accounts when they use public funds.

In the evaluation of Carlos Américo Pacheco, from the Economy Institute of the State University of Campinas (Unicamp), innovation will depend on deepening the reform of the State. “The international pattern is one of cooperation between the public and private sectors”, he stated. The format of partnership closest to the one desired is the format of the SPE. This, by the way, is the model chosen by the Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation (Embrapa) which is piecing together the creation of an SPE made up of private and public capital to remain in the leadership of farm research. Embrapa chose some areas that are more attractive for the private sector: agroenergy, biotechnology and nanotechnology. In the area of agroenergy, there is now an interest of BR Distribuidora, Itaipu Binacional, the National Bank for Economic and Social Development (BNDES) and Banco do Brasil. But there are still legal bottlenecks for the projects to advance. “If Embrapa’s SPE goes beyond the paper stage, it will be a rupture in the Brazilian model for research”, Pacheco insists.

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