Economy & Energy

Ano XII-No 71

December 2006 - January 2007 
ISSN 1518-2932


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Science and Technology

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Science and Technology

Iberê Mariano da Silva (*) 

The science and technology area (S&T) is an expression of the National Power of a sovereign state, together with the military, psychosocial, economical and political expressions. This area is also a gap between the nations that are submissive and the ones that yearn to project themselves.

In general, S&T is used as a compound word. However science is one thing and technology is another one. In a simplistic way, science is the pure part, which has no owner and belongs to all mankind. For example, the laws of Newton, Ohm and Boyle-Mariotti, the atomic model etc. On the other hand technology is the part which is commercialized. It is sold, traded or hidden. In some business agreements, one of the clauses is the technology transfer. That is the point where our problem begins. Many times the people chosen do not have the necessary pre-knowledge to receive the technology transfer. In this case it is lost, so causing a loss to the country.

Let’s look at some problems of the researchers and scientists. In general they are considered by institutions not prepared for them as “trouble makers”. This is due to the fact that they are permanently looking for another solution or different manner to face the problem. The researcher and the scientist, in general with associability (AQ) and intelligence quotients (IQ) above the average, must live in groups. Their reasoning dynamics, their jokes, conversation and main interests are others. It is a whole different emotional condition. For this to happen, and for a State to benefit from their knowledge and productivity, the existence of centers or research institutions is necessary.

Scholarships abroad are given to the most promising and those, in a few years, will come back. When they return, they cannot find research institutions where it is possible to continue their researches and interests, contributing to what they have learned abroad. They get frustrated with a series of problems of organizational and administrative character, and they either leave the country or accommodate.

Then there is a brain drain. There is a loss for the country. There is no return on the capital invested by the taxpayer. Those who stay, don´t have many opportunities to retransmit their knowledge. They get older, and no longer improve themselves, get out of date, feel a technological solitude and, without disposition, don’t spread around their knowledge to the young. Regarding remuneration, they end up exchanging their idealism and vocation by reality and abandon the research area.

Another type of knowledge drain occurs due to the odd manner of Capes assessment. Those who publish papers and articles abroad earn points. We donate to the institutes outside the country the results of our universities researches. They continue the research, turning it into technology and soon after that we are buying their products.

Turning back to the researcher’s problems, he has to be aware of the policies’ change and personalized guidelines. At a certainpoint , the researcher’s work is considered very important and it is provided with funds to continue the work, and soon after the interest may totally disappear. Another problem is the flow of resources assigned to the research. The researcher may have a hiatus of funds supply, sometimes for months, especially at the beginning of each fiscal year.

A simple component which is needed can take months to get through the purchase’s section, the bidding and other bureaucratic processes, until delivery by the supplier and the proper procedures of the warehouse. Sometimes the most daring researchers, wanting to see the results, buy the component with their own money.

If it is the case of equipment or apparatus or other more expensive item, when the researcher receives what was ordered , it is been a long time since he has moved to another activity. The Law No 8.666, which was made to prevent fraud and show transparency, was not effective. Funds deviation and fraud still happen, and the honest workers are impacted.

To drive the S&T area several procedures should be established. Well-equipped technological centers and research institutions should be created, but real and not just demagogically. A database should inform the status of the research that is being carried out, where it is located and its physical financial schedule, so that other researchers in other institutions can aggregate efforts.

It should be disclosed to the taxpayer that only about 10% of the researches achieve a positive and profitable result. The other 90% have as a positive result to show that this was not the right way. It should be established that the royalties paid by a technological innovation should be shared (in percentages to be discussed) among the researcher’s group, the financial institution, the institution where the research was developed and the institution the researchers belong to.

It should be encouraged the coordination between research institutes, universities and industry. At the first one, an issue is created and innovated, at the second one the new knowledge is disseminated and at the third one the product is developed so that the society can have a return. All of them with their profits.

There is a successful example practiced at the Rio Grande do Sul Federal University (UFRGS). It seeks companies and industries with specific problems (or is sought by them). Then students are designated, as needed, to solve the problems in their course’s final report and masters or doctorate’s degree thesis. The companies donate to the university the equipment that may eventually be necessary to carry out the research. The students, many times get a job when they finish the course. So everyone benefits from this process.

Several inventors, researchers and autonomous scientists have a hard time finding out what to do or whom to appeal to in order to carry on their projects, both in financial and commercial sense. When this happens, several innovations are lost.

Another factor that should be looked closely is that regarding the National Institute of Industrial Property (INPI). Patents are expensive and time-consuming for natural person. In several companies there are solutions that should be protected by patent . The INPI could be more effective. This might be reason of the low number of patents in Brazil. The INPI should have a more compatible budget. The return is guaranteed.

From another point of view, several technologies are denied to us and are in a list of the American Defense Department. For example: graphite, spatial research, nuclear research, fine chemistry research, nuclear-pure graphite, carbon fiber, inertial guidance, etc. Several times our researchers acquire knowledge on those areas. As soon as it is known that we have the specific technology or are a step from it, the prohibition is removed from the list and the item is commercialized at a lower price. Our institutes stop the research and relocate the researchers. As soon as we are no longer a potential producer, the item is removed from the market and re-enters in the prohibition list.

Other obstacles are the foreigner non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that do everything to create difficulties and stop the researches about subjects that they don’t want to be developed in our country. This is the case of transgenes, stem cells, superconductors etc.

They always find a way to stop the research: they hire the leading researchers, promote the transfer of the research institutes activities or the transfer of the researchers to another area, interfere in favor of shut down of institutes, create public opinion unrest (terrorism through ignorance) or motivate creation of self-controlling laws.

Today, there is no developed and truly sovereign nation without an active S&T activity.


(*)Brigade general, military engineer in reserve, post-graduation at the Military Institute of Engineering (IME) and at École Nationale Supérieure de l’Aéronautique et l’Espace (France), graduation in Politics, Strategy and Top Management Course of the Army (CPAEx).


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