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Reinforcement for diplomacy

Brazilian Foreign Relations Ministry (Itamaraty) creates center for monitoring trends in international innovation

Being implemented in the Ministry of Foreign Relations (MRE) is the Center for the Strategic Management of Knowledge in Science and Technology (CGECon in the Portuguese acronym), with the objective of supporting the formulation of Brazilian foreign policy in S&T in the field of international cooperation. The CGECon is linked to the Scientific, Technical and Technological Cooperation Department (DCT) of the Itamaraty, is subsidized by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), and enjoys a partnership with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP). “The center aims at restructuring the system for information on S&T abroad”, says Cristian Lapa, a consultant for the program.

The center coordinates a network of 21 observatories located in Brazilian diplomatic representations abroad, which work like antennas for the technological panorama and for the trends and changes in S&T. This information, checked against the national research scenario, makes it possible to monitor the technological niches that the Brazilian government can take advantage of.

The CGECon also acts as a router of knowledge and information, by putting into operation virtual communities made up of specialists. To do so, they can rely on a software infrastructure developed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) – operating in open code – which is being tested in the management of two virtual communities. The first community, with some 60 members, is called Off Set , and is debating technological, commercial and industrial offsetting; it was created in August last year, at a seminar on the theme organized by the Financier of Studies and Projects (Finep), recalls Ronan Coura Ivo, the community’s administrator.

Today, the main partners in this debate are representatives of the ministries of the Armed Forces, who have ample experience in running Off Set agreements, in the import and export of armaments and aircraft, among others. “These specialists have the task of qualifying diplomats in the formulation of similar agreements”, Lapa explains.The second virtual group is analyzing a theme that has still been little exploited by Brazilian producers, Ecodesign, which involves the use of materials with a greater degree of degradation. The theme was chosen to meet market demand.

The two virtual communities are managed by their participants, who define the rules and the policy for access to the debates.The CGECon also accompanies scientific production in the country. It maintains a scholarship holder at the Technological Research Institute (IPT) in São Paulo, and supported the organization of the Brazilian Technological Day, held at the end of February, in Washington. The CGECon’s site on the Internet (www.cgecon.mre.gov.br ), created with the support of technicians from the Ministry of Science and Technology (MCT), offers news onS&T, queriesto several databases and videoconferencing, amongst other services.

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