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Unicamp invests in innovation

Inovacamp is going to evaluate the demands of the private sector in order to direct research

On the 15th of May, the State University of Campinas (Unicamp) launched the Innovation Agency of Unicamp (Inovacamp), coordinated by Carlos Américo Pacheco, a professor at the Economics Institute and ex-executive secretary of the Ministry of Science and Technology (MCT). The Agency has as its objective the organization of the research work carried out by the university and improving the relationship with companies and the governments. One of the first challenges for Inovacamp will be implanting a technology park in Campinas, which will put bring together companies with interests in technological innovation. The first step is carrying of a study to define how this park will be and what type of the industrial segment it pretends to attract.

“The information technology companies will most certainly be present because Campinas already has various companies in this area, but we could also bring in the newly born sector of biotechnology”, Pacheco says. Unicamp received R$ 2.8 million from the Financier of Studies and Projects (Finep) to carry out the study that will be completed in one year. An important role for Inovacamp will be improving the relationships with strategic partners, such as Petrobras and Embraer, who have already developed various research projects with Unicamp without a central coordination to lay out a long term work plan. “Today, for example, we can have two or three pieces of research happening in parallel within two or three Petrobras departments without there being any integration between them”, Pacheco explains.

In order to attend to strategic partnerships, Inovacamp will have a specialized technical body that will do the mediation between the company and the researchers, centralizing all of the information about the ongoing research projects. Thus, the intention is to understand the strategy of the company’s performance and make it fully realize what Unicamp has to offer. According to Pacheco, the important thing is that with this information the group of technicians can define what will have to be done in the long term. The Agency will strive to facilitate the access of researchers to sources of funding. This work is already being done, but will become more active. “Let’s see what the real demands of the private sector are, and at the same time demonstrate to the companies the research that is currently going on. Many fine ideas only remain in the university as they do not find channels that lead them to the marketplace”, he says.

Product registration
One of the ways to identify the type of research that better attends to the needs of the private sector is the carrying out analysis of some areas, identifying directions, tendencies and challenges. The idea is not necessarily to increase the number of partnerships, which is already large, but mainly to anticipate theneeds. Last year Unicamp closed some two hundred and eighty agreements with companies and institutes in the private sector. Intellectual property will also receive attention. Unicamp was responsible for eighty-eight of the two hundred and thirty four patents registered by public research institutions between 1997 and 2000.

The challenge now is to turn these registered patents into products. “Today a patent is merely a cost. We want to transform it into a technology license”, he explains. For Pacheco, this is a favorable moment for initiatives that will attempt to facilitate the relationship of universities with the public and private sectors as there is a national conscience about the importance of technological innovation for the development of Brazil.