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PIPE celebrates 10th anniversary and is strengthened for phase 3

brazThe Small Firms’ Technological Innovation Program, or PIPE, a technological innovation program for small businesses, was created on June 18, 1997, with a pioneering objective: to foster the development of innovative research into the business environment. Since its inception, the program has funded more than 700 projects, which range from technical feasibility studies related to a creative idea, referred to as phase 1, to the development of research itself and the prototype of the result, referred to as phase 2. The biggest challenge has always been the funding of phase 3 (the development of new products for the market), which FAPESP, for statutory reasons, cannot sponsor.

This obstacle was partially overcome in 2004, when the Studies and Projects Financing Agency (FINEP), entered into an agreement with FAPESP, to allocate funds to the Companies’  Research Support Program (PAPPE) at the Ministry of Science and Technology/MCT. The funds were granted to 20 companies that, at the time, had successfully concluded phases 1 and 2 of PIPE, in order to provide support for production engineering and business development for a two-year period. In exchange, as provided for in the agreement with FINEP, FAPESP would provide the equivalent amount of funds invested in the first two phases of PIPE , a period during which the researchers would work on the development of this project, conduct the research studies and prepare the business plan.

Phase 3 of the program will go back into action now. In addition to funding provided by the new agreement with FINEP, the companies backed by PIPE will be able to resort to one more modality to support the development of innovative products: FAPESP has entered into an agreement with Imprimatur Capital Limited, a London-based international venture capital firm that specializes in intellectual property and licensing of technology. It provides support for business planning and market prospecting for small businesses focused on technology. This partnership will allow the Foundation to expand the opportunities for companies that concluded phase 2 of the PIPE, especially regarding foreign markets, as Imprimatur has branch offices in Hong Kong, Singapore, Kiev and Riga, as well as operations in Hungary.

Venture capital
According to the agreement, Imprimatur will provide support for FAPESP to evaluate, market and fund the projects for phase 3 of the PIPE. The projects will be analyzed by a committee comprised of FAPESP’s advisors and the partner company. The approved proposals will get FAPESP research funds and Imprimatur venture capital. Exceptionally, they may be supported only by FAPESP, with funds from FINEP in the form of research aid, or may rely only on Imprimatur venture capital. The projects will have a two-year term and a budget of up to R$ 500 thousand.

In addition to investments, Imprimatur will offer companies services such as business planning, market research, management of activities and even seed capital. It will pay FAPESP 30% of all the profits from the marketing of the patent or the product, thus acknowledging the investments made by the Foundation in the fostering of intellectual capital and in the development of the project during the first two phases of the program, which will be allocated to the funding of new projects.