Brazil to Earmark US$ 23 Billion for Science and Technology

Science and Technology minister Sérgio Rezende Brazil's President, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, is expected to launch in November the National Science and Technology Plan. The information was supplied by the Brazilian minister of Science and Technology, Sérgio Rezende, during a radio interview at Radiobrás, Brazil's state radio.

According to the minister, the plan will count on 41 billion Brazilian reais (US$ 22.8 billion) in funds for actions to be implemented up to 2010.

"The plan should probably be announced by president Lula in the second or third week of November," stated Rezende.

"It is a four-year plan, from 2007 to 2010. The actions to be taken in 2007 had already been planned out, so they are already underway. The plan will receive 41 billion reais (US$ 22.8 billion) in funds from the federal government, to be used in every sector related to science and technology," he said.

"We had never had a four-year plan, let alone this amount of funding, of 41 billion reais," he claimed. According to the minister, the plan has four basic priorities: expansion and consolidation of the Brazilian National Science and Technology System; promotion of technological innovation in companies; research and development in strategic areas; and science and technology for social development.

According to Rezende, for the most part, the plan's funding comes from the Ministry of Science and Technology. But there is also funding from the Ministry of Mines and Energy, by means of Petrobras (the Brazilian national oil company) and Eletrobrás (the national energy company).

These funds come also from research organizations linked to the Ministry of Defense; from the Ministry of Education, by means of the Foundation for Improvement of Higher Education Students (Capes); and from the Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation (Embrapa), linked to the Ministry of Agriculture.

Rezende stated that one of the greatest challenges to the country is to have Brazilian companies carry out research activities. "There are many initiatives [in the plan] aimed at encouraging, stimulating companies to do research, development and innovation for them to become more competitive," he said.

The minister said that research must also be encouraged in strategic areas, such as biofuels. "Brazil is currently a large ethanol producer and we manufacture alcohol using traditional methods, using sugar cane. It is a good way of making it, Brazil is the world's most effective ethanol producer country.

"But we are aware that the demand for ethanol will increase a lot, and we need to do research so we can manufacture, for example, cane with higher sugar content, in order to have greater productivity."

Rezende also claimed that the country's science and technology system is a recent one – it started being developed in the 1960s – and needs to be made known to Brazilians. "Society as a whole is not aware of what takes place in the field of science and, more specifically, of what takes place in Brazilian science," he stated.

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