Universities and Science Minister hails huge potential of science ties with Brazil

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Universities Minister Willetts hails huge potential of science ties with Brazil

Britain and Brazil will be forging stronger scientific links during a high-level conference bringing together leading researchers from both countries, that will also see the announcement of a number of new important bilateral research agreements.

Global energy provider BG Group will supply joint five-year funding for a new $20 million Gas Innovations Centre to be set up in Brazil, while both Manchester University and Imperial College (University of London) are signing cooperation agreements with Brazil’s leading regional scientific funding agency, the São Paulo Research Foundation (FAPESP). New Brazil-based research projects are also being announced.

The two and a half day conference sponsored by FAPESP is being held at London’s prestigious Royal Society 25th – 27th September. It will bring together  science policymakers and researchers from across Europe, and is being opened by Universities and Science Minister David Willetts. He said:

“Brazil has a growing reputation for developing cutting edge research, particularly in life sciences where there are huge growth opportunities. It’s essential that the UK works closely with colleagues from Brazil to maximise this potential.”

Willetts, who travelled with Prime Minister David Cameron to Brazil in 2012 and at that time visited the FAPESP headquarters in São Paulo, added: “This conference will bring the brightest minds from both countries together, allowing scientists to create networks that could make a huge difference for years to come.”

According to a report commissioned by Willetts’ own Department for Business Innovation and Skills, higher education links with Brazil are already worth over  £200 million to the UK economy. FAPESP’s academic partnerships, visiting professorships and commercial agreements with companies like  Glaxo SmithKline (GSK) come on top of this.

As well as senior science policymakers from Research Councils UK and the Royal Society, the conference will be addressed by British researchers  from  Cambridge, Bristol, Manchester, and Leicester Universities as well as Imperial College. On the Brazilian side will be scientists from scientists at São Paulo’s top-ranked universities.

Key topics at the conference will be: Climate Change; Biodiversity; Biofuels; Health Science, and Nanotechnology. For European scientists, the conference will emphasize the career-enhancing opportunities that contacts with Brazil can offer.

According to Professor Carlos Henrique de Brito Cruz, Scientific Director of FAPESP and its senior policy spokesman: “São Paulo has a thriving environment for research and development. Now, we’re seeing an intensification of international research collaboration, and this will be decisive for the economy.”

Prof Brito Cruz will identify further cooperation opportunities for UK academic institutions, research agencies and commercial companies during a speech in which he will say: “Research collaboration between scientists in São Paulo and the UK has been growing strongly, thanks in part to the agreements that FAPESP has with UK Research Councils and leading UK universities.

Already, FAPESP has an annual research budget of around US$500 million and recently announced that it has assembled US$680 million worth of long-term funding to be spent over 11 years on projects in 19 designated areas.

Prof Brito will tell the conference that São Paulo is Brazil’s research powerhouse,  with one quarter of all its scientists. What’s more researchers in the São Paulo author 50% of the scientific articles published by researchers in Brazil in international scientific journals. Additionally, the state generates 45% of the PhDs approved in Brazil every year.

The FAPESP Week conference is partly sponsored by the British Council and includes a full programme of scientific events designed to raise awareness of  how rapidly Brazil is developing into a knowledge-based society – all thanks to its universities and their research base.


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