The December 3, 2010 issue of Science has an article by Antonio Regalado on “how Brazil’s fast-growing economy and oil discoveries have been propelling the country’s scientific enterprise”. Brazil is described as an “enthusiastic country” with a fast growing economy that is affecting all aspects of life, including science.
In a podcast interview, the author analyzes the research paths scientists in Brazil have been pursuing, concluding that the country “is much more focused on agriculture, clinical medicine, biology, and space science as compared to countries in Asia and in Eastern Europe, which tend to be a lot heavier in physics and chemistry”.
The conclusion is that Brazil is pursuing a “bioenvironmental model of research”. Gilberto Câmara, head of Brazil’s space agency, says in the article that “the new Brazil will be a natural knowledge economy”.
The article recognizes that Brazilian leaders have been committed to science, and the amount of funding for research in the country has grown very quickly over the last 10 years. Visibility and recognition are also growing. Executive Director of Embrapa, José Geraldo Eugênio de França, says: “for the first time in history, we have a recognition that something is changing in Brazil”. Instead of “asking where Brazil needs help”, developed countries now ask “where they could work together with Brazil”, he says.
But translating knowledge into innovations remains a challenge and “Brazil is still trying to rewrite its laws to encourage industrial innovation” Regalado says. However, he recognizes that “innovation is definitely becoming a big subject in Brazil” and describes several examples of new projects that are starting up.
You can read the Article “Brazilian Science: Riding a Gusher” here (HTML) and here (PDF) (Subscription needed).
You can access a Podcast interview with Science’s correspondent Antonio Regalado here.