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The new strategies of the CNPq

The objective is to strengthen the regional participation in S&T

This year, the National Council for Scientific and Technological Development (CNPq) will enjoy a budget of R$ 688 million. Of this total, R$ 498 million is intended for the payment of the program of grants for training and qualifying scientific personnel. The Minister of Science and Technology, Roberto Amaral, has now announced that the CNPq is going to finance over 4,400 grants and to create another 10,250 to support pupils in their secondary schooling, researchers with greater experience (level IA), besides paying the Bench Fee (additional resources of grants for specific uses) to ensure better conditions for carrying out thesis projects, starting in March. One of the main objectives of the present management is to make young researchers and laboratories from all the regions of the country participate in the system for scientific production”, explains Erney Camargo, a former director of the Butantan Institute, in São Paulo, recently installed as president of the CNPq.

To do so, Camargo promises a “vigorous” resumption of the policy of over the counter development. “We are going to give a lot of attention to spontaneous demand, where the researcher presents his project, to attend to sectors that are outside the major research projects, like, for example, those connected with genomics and biotechnology”, he details. The increase in the number of grants will be carried out with funds from the budget, but there is no money for increasing their value, unless the budget is supplemented.

CNPq is also beginning to review the policy of quotas for the various states. “This is a dangerous policy. The distribution of grants has to be a product of the real demand. The tendency is for the quota system to end and to be replaced by limits”, he discloses.

Synchronized action
He stresses that the CNPq is going to “honor” all the programs now under way – mentioning as examples Pronex and Millennium – and to pay in full the benefits granted. “We will not be doing any cuts or alterations, and this is important for maintaining the credibility of the organ”, he guarantees. He also explains that the emphasis on the policy for over the counter development does not exclude support for induced research programs, which will occur to the extent that financial releases permit. “We will only support projects with the resources guaranteed”, he stresses. The expectation is to expand the number of major projects and programs with resources from the Sectorial Funds. “Over the last few years, the idea has been growing that the CNPq only supports grants. Basic research is also the CNPq’s responsibility, and it will be developed using resources from the funds”, he claims.

To achieve this new project, the CNPq, the Financier of Studies and Projects (Finep) and the Coordination for the Perfecting of Higher Level Personnel (Capes) harmonized their objectives, “particularly as far as the training of personnel is concerned”, says Camargo. “Together, the three bodies will be setting up a national program for Science and Technology”, he reveals.

Stimulating the regional S&T structures will also be a hallmark of the Ministry of Science and Technology (MCT) in the Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva government. From this perspective, the State Research Support Foundations (the FAPs) and the Scientific Societies will play a strategic role. “The CNPq will be the MCT’s arm for implementing this policy”, says Camargo. One of the probable measures will be to support the action of the FAPs with resources from the Sectorial Funds. Camargo revealed that the CNPq, Capes and Finep are going to negotiate with FAPESP “an intelligent policy for São Paulo”.

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