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Public Policies: the commitment of research to society

During the last five years, FAPESP has established two programs for the funding of research projects that aim to obtain relevant results towards government action at various levels. The first of these programs, namedFAPESP – Public Schooling , was established in 1996 and has as its objective the stimulation of research, carried out in partnership, with schools from the public school system. The execution of the project involves the development of innovative pedagogical experiences and should bring immediate benefits to the educational performance of the partner schools. The terms of the partnership require the school to actively participate at all stages of the research project, right from its conception up to its execution.

Besides the necessary material resources for carrying out the project, FAPESP grants to the school's teachers who engage in the project, a scholarship which motivates and makes their participation feasible. There is also possible financial support available for infrastructure work at the school, essential for the realization of the project, which can last for up to four years. Among the more than 60 projects financed through the program, there is a large variety of themes and strategies, covering almost all of the disciplines of primary and secondary schooling. Beyond the results and immediate benefits originating from each financed project, the program also aims to create a culture, in the research atmosphere of the State, which will make researchers and institutions co-responsible for quality and for constant innovation in all the levels of public schooling.

The success of the experience of the Public Schooling program led FAPESP to conceptually expand its scope through the programResearch into Public Policies . With this second program, FAPESP has begun to finance research projects carried out in partnership with public, governmental and non-governmental organizations whose results can be used innovatively in the design and implementation of social relevant public policies. In accordance with the model adopted in the program of Public Schooling, the partnership terms demand from the partner organization, intense participation at all stages of the project, as well as the commitment towards the use of its results in the case of success.

In this manner, the program covers all of the spheres of action of the government that need the support of research. As statistics show, the program ofResearch into Public Policies involves nine State secretaries, 27 city halls and eight non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and public institutions. Of the total number of projects financed, 45 involve State secretaries, 44 involve city halls 14 are proposals by other institutions or NGOs.

In the Public Policiesprogram, the format, previously tried out through the program ofInnovative Technology in Small Companies and that has the project financing done in phases, was adopted. In Phase I, which lasts for six months and it is capped at R$ 30,000.00, the team's researchers must demonstrate the technical viability of the project, consolidate the partnership and initiate the research activities.

If, in the evaluation of thead hoc assessor, the project has been successful, FAPESP will finance Phase II of its execution for a period of up to two years, with a budget limited to R$ 200,000.00. Phase III of the project, the effective implementation of the public policy coming from the research, cannot be financed through FAPESP, it being the exclusive responsibility of the partner organization. The system of phases for the funding of projects allows for a more realistic evaluation of their viability and closer monitoring, especially in the critical phase at the beginning.

The response of the research system to the proposal of the program has been notable, both in number and in the quality of the projects presented. During the first tender, 226 projects were presented, and after a rigorous selective process, 61 of them were approved. It must be mentioned that in this phase of the program implementation, FAPESP decided to be especially rigorous, as it is understood that the approved projects must be exemplary in accordance with the norms of the program.

Close to two thirds of the approved projects were considered to be successful at Phase I of their execution and they have obtained financing for Phase II. In the second tender of the program, 42 of the 87 projects presented were approved and all are still in the execution of Phase I. The common characteristic of the programs of Public Schooling and Public Policies, or that is to say, the existence of a partnership, has created for the projects an effective channel for the transfer of knowledge.

The same model, adopted in the FAPESP programs of innovative technology, in which an essential parameter of the relevance of the research is the real involvement of companies effectively interested in the results of the project. The idea with this mechanismin the case of applied research , is “marrying” the offer with the demand, as a form of guaranteeing that each project responds to the real needs – and not simply conjectured – for knowledge through the public or private partnership.

The research system of the State of São Paulo has had for quite some time a commitment to the generation and transfer of knowledge to society. A recent survey on the profile of the investments carried out by FAPESP over the last five years, showed that more than 50% of the resources of the Foundation had been destined to the financing of research projects with a high potential for application in technology or in public policies. The extraordinary reply of the system with the presentation, in large numbers, of innovative projects within these programs, only demonstrates the qualification and the disposition of the researchers of this State in contributing, with the help of FAPESP, to the social and economic development of the country.

The special programs, in the areas of public policies and innovative technology, only create alternative channels and more efficiency for the effective transfer of knowledge, recognized as one of the challenges of the scientific and technological policy of Brazil. On the other hand, both the public sector and the private sector have been very timid in their demand for knowledge as an instrument of qualityof their action, there not existing, as yet, a culture thatseeks to make use of the extremely rich capacity of generating it, installed in the State's research system. These programs aims to develop this culture.