The effort to further internationalize research in the state of São Paulo is highlighted in the 2012 FAPESP Activity Report, released in October. The report contains the Foundation’s leading performance indicators and initiatives of the past year. The Foundation celebrated its 50th anniversary last year and held two international symposiums, one in North America and the other in Spain, where researchers from institutions supported by the foundation displayed their work and strengthened relationships with colleagues from abroad.
Twenty-two new agreements for scientific cooperation with institutions abroad were signed in 2012; six were with development agencies and 16 were with research institutions or institutions of higher learning. Including the 43 agreements signed in previous years, the Foundation closed out 2012 with 65 cooperation agreements involving organizations from 14 countries. “What explains FAPESP’s desire to interact with other nations is that the commitment to amplify the exchange generates and expands knowledge in all the areas in which it occurs,” says FAPESP’s President, Celso Lafer. “In the contemporary world, science is an activity that depends increasingly on cross-border cooperation efforts, and because many of the most important events it deals with occur internationally,” he says.
The report shows that FAPESP allocated R$1.03 billion for scientific and technological research in the state of São Paulo in 2012; this was a record, at 10.2% more than the amount released in 2011. Between 2007 and 2012, FAPESP’s revenue grew by 72.49% and disbursements rose by 88.36%. To carry out its work, FAPESP had the support of 8,976 advisers who issued 22,941 opinions. “In a consolidated, detailed and transparent manner, the report shows FAPESP’s achievements in 2012, thereby providing the public visibility that the foundation wants and needs for its activities,” says the Foundation’s Scientific Director, Carlos Henrique de Brito Cruz.
Since 2005, great artists from the state of São Paulo have illustrated the activity reports with reproductions of their works. “This year we are pleased to honor Tomie Ohtake, a major artist who innovated the visual arts in Brazil in an extraordinary way and, with her maturity of 100 years, she distinguishes herself by a continuing devotion to her work,” said Lafer. Tomie Ohtake was born in Kyoto and settled in São Paulo when she was 23 years old. The body of work she created consists of paintings, engravings and sculptures, which are internationally recognized as being among the leading representations of contemporary abstractionism.
FAPESP receives and invests research funds provided by the São Paulo State Constitution. The amount is the equivalent of 1% of the state’s tax revenue. In 2012, the Foundation’s revenue was R$1.09 billion, 5.6% higher than in 2011. This amount comprises funds from the state Treasury (81.93%) and other sources of revenue (18.07%), as well as its own funds and funds from agreements with other development agencies, companies and institutions—both Brazilian and foreign—that are interested in supporting research on a collaborative basis and on issues of common interest.
For the line of regular programs, i.e., those that meet spontaneous demand from researchers, 7,601 grants and 4,292 lines of research awards were commissioned in 2012. Compared with 2011, FAPESP allocated 20% more funds for research grants. Funding for regular lines of research grew by 31%. In the Special Programs, designed to give impetus to research and address shortcomings in areas considered strategic, 1,227 new projects were commissioned. Among the Research Programs for Technological Innovation, which support research capable of developing new technologies or creating public policy, 191 new projects were commissioned in 2012.
Universities and research institutions in which there are a larger number of research groups naturally receive more funding. Therefore, it is not surprising that 47.78% of FAPESP disbursements in 2012 were allocated to projects coordinated by researchers at the University of São Paulo (USP). The remaining project funding was invested as follows: 13.86% at the Universidade Estadual Paulista (Unesp); 13.18% at the State University of Campinas (Unicamp); and 13.13% in projects run by researchers at federal institutions in the state of São Paulo. The health area traditionally receives the lion’s share of funding because it has so many researchers. In 2012, research in the area received R$308.36 million in funding, 20.95% more than in 2011, and the equivalent of 29.79% of the total amount disbursed by FAPESP. Other areas that stand out are biology, with 17.11% of the total; engineering with 10.59%; humanities and social sciences (10.4%); and agronomy and veterinary medicine (9.41%). Although science and computer engineering are not areas that receive a large amount of funding, in 2012 they received 58% more than in 2011.
FAPESP changed the classification of its funding objectives to clarify the scientific, social and economic scope of the projects it supports. Now the classification is as follows: Application-Driven Research (53% of the total); Advancing Knowledge (37% of the total); and Support for Research Infrastructure (10% of the total). The Foundation grouped as Support for Advancing Knowledge programs that qualify as training of human resources (grants) and that foster academic research (see chart). Support for Application-Driven Research consists of programs with clear application objectives and that have economic and social merit. Research Infrastructure Support aims to provide the necessary infrastructure for ongoing studies by the state of São Paulo. As of 2011, the classification encompassed Support for Training Human Resources (grants), Support for Academic Research and Support for Application-Driven Research. “It’s not just a change of nomenclature, but it’s a change in how programs are grouped to make it easier to understand the type of research that FAPESP supports for short- and medium-term applications. These programs generate the knowledge needed to construct future applications and are the investments that provide the necessary infrastructure for the continuity of any type of research,” Celso Lafer explains.
The intense internationalization activity underway at FAPESP became more visible through two symposiums held abroad to showcase the work of scientists supported by the foundation: FAPESP Week 2012, which took place in October in four cities in North America (Toronto, Cambridge, Washington and Morgantown), and Fronteras de La Ciência, held in December in two cities in Spain (Salamanca and Madrid). In 2013, these initiatives continued with FAPESP Week in Japan, the United Kingdom, and this month in the United States.
FAPESP’s international engagement also generated an event to discuss topics that would be on the agenda of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20), held in June 2012, based on research conducted under FAPESP programs such as BIOTA on biodiversity in the state of São Paulo, BIOEN, the Program for Research on Bioenergy, and Global Climate Change. Alongside this event a seminar was held for journalists from several Brazilian states and other Latin American countries so that they would be able to cover Rio+20. After the conference, in August, FAPESP held the second joint workshop for the BIOEN – BIOTA – Climate Change programs: The Future We Do Not Want. This event brought together 149 researchers to evaluate the outcomes and discuss the tenor of participation of Brazilian scientists in the upcoming international meetings on the environment and sustainability.
The foundation also provided strong support for transportation for the researchers by sending students and scientists from São Paulo abroad and by bringing in overseas researchers. In 2012, 903 research grants were awarded abroad, 334% more than in 2011. The growth is explained to a certain extent by the creation of the Research grant for Overseas Internship (Bepe), and the key recipients were the United States, Canada, Australia, France, England, Spain, Portugal and Germany.
Another important activity involved bringing foreigners to Brazil and bringing back Brazilians who were living abroad. Postdoctoral FAPESP research grants in Brazil have been awarded to a growing number of researchers from abroad that are attracted by research opportunities at universities and institutions in the state of São Paulo. In 2012, researchers from other countries accounted for 15% of postdoctoral grants, with greater emphasis on the exact sciences and Earth and biological sciences. The foundation also funded 254 visiting researchers from abroad last year.
In 2012, a FAPESP pilot program was created: the São Paulo Excellence Chairs (SPEC), which seeks to establish collaborations between São Paulo State institutions and high-level researchers who work outside the country. In this program, the researchers continue to be employed by their institutions of origin but commit to staying in Brazil for at least 12 weeks per year for the duration of the projects that last a minimum of five years. They coordinate a group of FAPESP fellows, including post-doctoral, doctoral and scientific initiation students. Two thematic projects were approved under the program last year. One of the projects brought in two scientists to Brazil, Victor and Ruth Nussenzweig, a Brazilian couple who had been living in the US since the 1960s, and they became a reference in research on malaria vaccines and treatments. A project of Andréa Dessen de Souza e Silva, a Brazilian living in France, was selected in the program to lead a research group at the Brazilian Biosciences National Laboratory (LNBio) in Campinas. “The SPEC program complements the strategy of international connections, creating a flow to São Paulo of international leaders in research from renowned institutions,” says Carlos Henrique de Brito Cruz, scientific director of FAPESP.Republish