The Brazilian Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (MCTI) has outlined its priorities for 2014 and the development of the country's basic technology policies, as well as international development programs are on top of the list.
MCTI minister Marco Antônio Raupp announced the list of targets for this year, which include six key areas of focus. The first is the development of cybersecurity policies. According to the minister, a major target for the government within technology is to "develop technology, knowledge and new systems that give more security to the operation of public and private sector networks in Brazil."
The Brazilian government announced in October that it is looking to invest in startups specializing in cybersecurity and defense so that it can be better prepared for future threats.
As part of this workstream, a two-day Global Conference on the Future of Internet Governance will be held in April. As the event name suggests, the idea is to create a global governance model for the Internet. Representatives of the academic and technology community, the public and private sector and the civil society are set to take part, as well as representatives from other countries.
The Brazilian Internet Steering Committee (CGI.br) would be the main partner in the activities around cybersecurity and governance.
The approval of the Science Code is another priority. The law proposal of the bill 2177/2011, also known as the "Science Code" is aimed at making researchers' lives simpler. This would be done by setting specific standards for less bureaucracy in technology research and greater flexibility throughout the process of planning and implementation of projects, particularly in areas such as equipment imports and contracting services. "This new regulatory framework is essential to increase, facilitate and promote the activities of science, technology and innovation in the country," says minister Raupp.
Funding for infrastructure supporting technology research is also on the government agenda. According to Raupp, some R$420mi ($178mi) of the federal sector-focused infrastructure budget were allocated to the National Fund for Scientific and Technological Development. The money will continue to be invested in the implementation, modernization, expansion and refreshing the physical infrastructure of national research through public tenders. "I'd say we were pretty consistent in channelling resources to public science and technology institutions in in 2013," the minister says.
In a similar vein, the Brazilian government will be ploughing resources into technology-focused government agencies. The creation of four Centers for Strategic Technologies focused on the Northeast, the Atlantic Rainforest and the Wetlands will go ahead this year, as well as another facility for water resources.
Raupp took stock of the initiative to use advanced technology tools to monitor natural disasters across the country throughout the country, launched last May. So far, some 934 automatic rain gauges were delivered, as well as 771 semiautomatic rain gauges and two weather radars.
"We are seeing the result now, during the current summer rain season," says Raupp. "We are avoiding deaths by alerting the authorities to take action when needed and mitigate the effects of these natural disasters. This is a social program of great importance, because landslides and floods happen every end of year and cause massive disruption to the population."
After the shambolic launch of the Brazilian-Chinese satellite last year, Brazil now wants to build another one in 2014. The continuity of the Brazilian Space Program is a key item in Raupp's agenda and the launch of the new CBers series satellite, which was planned for 2015, will happen this year, according to the minister." We are accelerating the program of CBERS - 4 to compensate for the failure of CBers-3," Raupp says. Last year, the latest version of the satellite jointly developed by China and Brazil did not go into orbit due to technical issues in the launch vehicle.
The Brazilian government will also continue its educational, innovation and entrepreneurship programs focused on science, technology and innovation.
Key programs the MCTI wants to continue putting resources into are Science without Borders, an international scholarship program focused on technology and science students - since its start in 2011, the initiative has given 60,000 out of the 101,000 scholarships it has set out to award until 2015 - as well as Plano Inova Empresa, an innovation grant to private sector companies with a cash pool of R$32.9mi ($14mi).
Raupp also cited the progress made by Start-Up Brasil, the R$20mi ($8.4mi) initiative focused on backing entrepreneurs in Brazil and abroad - some 100 companies have been backed by the project so far, out of which 20 are from other countries. Further selection processes are expected to take place this year.
Another area of progress mentioned by Raupp is the creation of the training program Brasil Mais TI, which trained 103,000 people in 2013, as well as partnerships with global research and development centers of four companies including SAP. The idea, according to the minister, is to continue these workstreams and exceed last year's targets.