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Propitious ground

Technological parks and a bill encourage innovation in the state of São Paulo

There are novelties in the legal framework that regulates technological innovation in the state of São Paulo. On February 6, at a ceremony held in FAPESP’s auditorium, in São Paulo, Governor Geraldo Alckmin signed a decree that institutes the São Paulo Technological Park System and sent to the Legislative Assembly the draft state law on Technological Innovation. The parks will be large real estate enterprises anchored on major institutions like universities and research institutes,  whose goal is to attract, create and maintain technology companies and research and development centers. Each park will be installed in a region and will have a particular vocation. The Metropolitan Region of São Paulo is going to dedicate itself to nanotechnology. Campinas will be directed towards the installation of centers in communications and information technology. São José dos Campos is going to encourage aerospace and defense research; São Carlos, optics and advanced instrumentation in agriculture; and Ribeirão Preto, the medical and dental areas.

Of the five technological centers provided for, three may be ready before the end of 2006: those in São José dos Campos, Campinas and São Carlos. The other two, which will be installed in Greater São Paulo and in Ribeirão Preto, will be concluded in 2007. In the next three months, the selection of managers to administer the parks will be done. “They will have the task of attracting investors and of taking care of the infrastructure of the central nucleus of the parks” said Carlos Américo Pacheco, a professor from Unicamp’s Economics Institute and one of the coordinators of the project. In total, the state government has invested R$ 11 million in the system, of which R$ 9 million for infrastructure works and R$ 2 million for the feasibility studies.

The creation of the park system is part of an effort to take research and development inside companies, which is also the rationale of the bill on innovation sent to the Assembly. The text that will be discussed by the deputies sets out to regulate partnerships between the public and private sectors and provides for the creation of venture capital funds, with money from the government and from companies, to sustain innovative projects. According to the project, the state will be able to participate in the capacity of quotaholder in mutual funds to invest in companies whose business is technological innovation.

The São Paulo project takes its lead from the federal law on Innovation regulated last year. “They are provisions of a state ambit, which are being added to those provided for in the federal law” said the Secretary for Science, Technology and Economic Development, João Carlos Meirelles. “The sense of the project is to take research inside the companies. The world’s large companies have development centers and raise funds. There would be no Microsoft, if in the past there had not been, in the United States, mechanisms allowing funds to be invested in Bill Gates’ first innovative projects” explained Meirelles. Also according to the bill, researchers connected with state institutions may be able to take leave of absence from their functions for up to four years, to work on innovation processes of the private sector. The project also provides for postgraduate students and researchers from public institutions to receive part of the royalties when their creations are commercially exploited.