FAPESP and Braskem (the 11th petrochemical company in the world in company value after the purchase of Ipiranga) have signed a cooperation agreement for researching biopolymers. R$ 50 million will be jointly invested by the parties over five years. The agreement is part of FAPESP’s strategy to aid applied research conducted jointly by companies and research institutes, as part of Pite, the Technological Innovation Research Partnership Program. “Our aim is to support exploratory research that can create groundbreaking, cutting-edge technology,” explained FAPESP scientific Director Carlos Henrique de Brito Cruz, clarifying that this has nothing to do with incremental innovations.
For Braskem, the partnership meets the company’s strategy of improving its competitiveness through new technologies and innovation. “We can’t run into obstacles because of technological restrictions,” says Braskem CEO José Carlos Grubisich. “So we’ll invest in cutting edge projects in nanotechnology and biopolymers,” he added.
The company has 18 plants around the country and is a pioneer in green polymers. In 2007, it launched the first certified polyethylene made from sugarcane ethanol. In addition to ethanol, the company does research into the biomass route; this has already resulted in five patent requests. “We invested R$ 300 million in R&D and in modern research labs,” Grubisich stresses. The company’s tradition of investing in research allowed the process of reaching an agreement to move “faster”. “When there is research going on in the company, it’s easier because the company is then conversant with science and technology jargon,” said Brito.
The agreement was signed on February 27, at FAPESP’s headquarters, during a ceremony attended by the São Paulo governor, José Serra; Development secretary and vice-governor, Alberto Goldman; Higher Education secretary, Carlos Vogt; FAPESP president, Celso Lafer; and FAPESP managing director, Ricardo Brentani, among others. “We need to enhance São Paulo state’s advantage on an international level,” said the governor. “This is why the state government applauds the program”.
The first public call, whose response deadline is April 22, will select projects on intermediary synthesis processes, monomers and polymers from renewable resources (sugar, ethanol, and biomass, among others), and the physical-chemical properties of green polymers that will allow them to be used in different applications. Project selection will be carried out in two stages. First, the Cooperation Management Committee, consisting of FAPESP and Braskem representatives, will analyze the proposals submitted and choose those that, in the second stage, will be analyzed in the light of FAPESP’s usual standards.
FAPESP has similar contracts with other companies, such as Microsoft Research, Dedini, Padtec, Telefônica, Oxiteno, Digital Assets, Instituto Fleury, Imprimatur and Ouro Fino Saúde Animal. On February 18, it also signed a partnership agreement with the firms Ci&T Software and DigitalAssets, to a total of R$ 3.6 million (also split between FAPESP and both companies), to fund applied research into information technology, software engineering, psychology and business administration. The deadline for submitting the research proposal is April 14. The public call covers certain specific lines of research such as technology, web 2.0 emerging standards and frameworks, web application usability, and software reuse, among others. For further information, visit www.fapesp.br.