Research & Innovation
Research and Innovation Observatory – Horizon 2020 Policy Support Facility

Service tools

Navigation path

RIO Country Report Brazil 2015

The RIO International Country Report for Brazil analyses and assesses the Brazilian research and innovation system, including the main challenges, framework conditions, regional R&I systems, and international co-operation, including with DG JRC.



1. Overview of the R&I system

Brazil is currently facing a political and economic crisis with an impact on the investments in R&I. Since 2014, the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation has a cut 37% of its budget. From 2012 to 2016, four Science, Technology and Innovation Ministers were nominated as a reflection of the political instability. Additionally, in May 2016 the merger between the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation and the Ministry of Communications was announced, as part of the strategy to streamline the public administration, reducing from 32 to 23 the number of ministries. In 2013, whereas R&D intensity (GERD/GDP) was 1.24% (up from 1.15 % in the previous year), the share of private sector R&D in 2013, was 42.3%. The share of public sector (federal and state) R&D increased to 57.7%. Overall investment in S&T was 1.66% of GDP in 2013. In recent years, there were significant advances in the STI policy including the improvement in the number and qualification of human resources has and the R&D infrastructure expansion. Actions aimed at establishing guidelines for a "national strategic framework" are taking place in the country. Brazil has recently published the new STI Strategy (2016-2019). The fundamental mission of the strategy is to promote the STI as one of the structural axes of national development. In this context, the strategy highlights the need to strengthen the link between STI policy with other government policies and between the various actors. Brazil has clear national competitive advantages when it comes to social and biodiversity aspects and its potential for the production of commodities. The country is at the scientific and technological forefront in research and agricultural production in tropical regions as well as in the control, prevention and treatment of tropical and neglected diseases. Other areas with relative technological expertise are the aeronautical sector, oil and gas, and nuclear.

2. Public and private funding of R&I and expenditure

Regarding public spending on R&I, in 2013 Brazil invested €3.75 billion, almost half of the funds invested by the federal government. São Paulo stands out as the main contributor, accounting for 58.6% of the sum of state expenditures. As it is the case in federal scale, the growth rate of investment in R&I by state governments is high and there is a growing participation of northern states, the Northeast and Midwest. In 2013 the sum of investments in R&I of the federal and state governments was €12 billion, while business investments in S&T totalled €9,5 billion in 2013.

3. Framework conditions for R&I

The research system has effectively developed during the past decade – this, in spite of its still unbalanced geographic productivity and low network-based research implementation. By contrast, the innovation system, which began to be deeply structured from 2005 with the passing of the federal innovation law, still presents key structural bottlenecks such as a small number of networks involving industry, regional and local authorities, weak private sector research in terms of number of firms and expenditures and government incentives with limited scope and reach. However, the creation of cooperative controlled environments for technological companies places the country in a promising situation, especially when Brazil is about to celebrate thousand companies located in 30 operating technology parks. Another big boost to technological developments, reflected at the ENCTI 2016-2019, concerns the 400 incubators present in the country.

4. Smart specialisation approaches

In Brazil, the concept of smart specialisation is close to the Local Productive Arrangements (APLs), which represent local innovation systems, local production systems, clusters, among others. These various denominations have in common the emphasis on the importance of local aspects of the development and competitiveness of enterprises. In the set of productive development policies, APLs assume an auxiliary function to various initiatives focusing on different industries or production systems. Among the systems for which local production arrangements represent an important role are included some considered knowledge-intensive (aviation industry), large-scale (shipbuilding) and traditional (textiles and clothing, leather, footwear and artefacts; wood and furniture, agribusiness).The local systemic perspective is an opportunity to promote greater coordination within production networks and to promote processes of generation and dissemination of knowledge and technology. In this dimension, the APLs are also focused on STI policy programmes.

5. Internationalisation of R&I

Brazilian foreign policy for cooperation in science, technology and innovation is universal, directing to countries from all continents and different levels of development. There is an interest in prioritising and strengthening of partnerships with countries of South America, especially MERCOSUR, and with similar scientific and technological dimensions. Particular attention is given to the political and strategic relationship with the countries of the IBSA (India, Brazil and South Africa) and BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa), as well as to the strengthening of scientific and technological relations with traditional partners. Brazil has been working in partnership with countries and international organisations for nearly six decades. Technical cooperation projects and programmes generate important benefits for social development, governance, environment, energy, agriculture, education and health, which allowed build stronger institutions able to perform their duties at a higher level of excellence. The cooperation between the European Union and Brazil on research and innovation is governed by the Agreement for Scientific and Technological Cooperation (signed in 2004, entered into force in 2007 and renewed in 2012 for the next 5 years). A Cooperation Arrangement under the existing bilateral Agreement was signed on 24 January 2013 in Brasilia between the Joint Research Centre (JRC) and the Brazilian Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (MCTI). In the area of Fusion Energy Research, an agreement (under the Euratom Treaty), was concluded in 2009 and entered into force in January 2013. Brazil is one of the first non-ITER parties with which Euratom has signed a bilateral cooperation agreement. The importance of cooperation on research and innovation in addressing the shared economic, environmental and societal challenges within the context of the overall EU-Brazil relations has been reiterated at the EU-Brazil Summit of February 2014.

6. Conclusions

Despite the progress made within the Brazilian legal framework to promote R&I activities and specially innovation in the country, there are still many promising fields to receive proper research infrastructure. In the current scenario of global competitiveness and complex social challenges, Brazil, which faces serious internal problems, should increase investments in STI. Following the precepts presented in the RIO report for Brazil, there is a great expectation that the National Strategy for Science, Technology and Innovation for the period 2016-2019 (ENCTI 2016-2019) will consolidate the planning effort unfolded in Action Plans to address in detail the priorities and resources for the implementation of programmes and projects related to the strategic themes for the National STI system. Similarly, it is expected that the budget constraints that hamper progress in the sector will be overcome, especially concerning the recovery and the strengthening of the National Fund for Science and Technology.

Geo coverage
Report year
Official publication date
Tuesday, 20 December, 2016
Last update: 25/02/2020 | Top | Legal notice | Contact | Search