Brazil changes tech minister and demands quick results

Dilma Rousseff brings in economist Clélio Campolina to set priorities for the sector: "Brazil is in a hurry"
Written by Angelica Mari, Contributing Writer

As Brazil places more emphasis on its technology agenda, president Dilma Rousseff has brought in a new minister with a clear remit of defining priorities and delivering them fast.

The Science, Technology and Innovation Ministry (MCTI) will now be headed up by economist Clélio Campolina, a former professor at the University of Minas Gerais and a specialist in economic development, with a PhD on the subject from the University of Rutgers in the United States.

When taking over from previous minister Marco Antonio Raupp on Monday (17), Campolina said president Rousseff had invited him to take up the job with the specific brief of giving continuity to the ongoing MCTI programs, but more importantly, create a project to drive economic growth through science and technology and boost the quality of Brazil's output in that field.

"Brazil is in a hurry and has the ability to define and prioritize areas of technology and science that are critical to the transformation of the Brazilian business environment," Campolina said.

"We need to have a big program [science and technology] program for Brazil, have a forward-looking vision and deliver fast," he added.

Foreign investment and skills development

One key area of focus for minister Campolina will be to attract international businesses to build research and development centers - and therefore invest - in Brazil.

"All developed countries have done this. They increased the internationalization of their research efforts - the United States brought in European companies to do research there, which is what China is also doing, " the new minister said.

"We are facing a restructuring of the global order. We have to show that Brazil is a viable country and has potential - and foreign companies will bring their research capabilities here when they are convinced that is the case," he added.

According to the minister, another major area of attention will be policies to boost the creation of science and tech skills in Brazil.

"Creating a policy of human resources development is an absolute priority. Brazil already has very advanced academic programs in that field, but they need to be supplemented mainly by [improvements in] basic education and an interface with businesses," Campolina said.

"The journey is not easy. It takes political and social awareness of these issues, as well as acting objectively and permanently to seize opportunities, which is only possible with a great deal of determination and hard work."

Campolina plans to hear his new colleagues at the MCTI and the science and tech community in business and academia before announcing any major changes.

As he stepped down, former minister Marco Antonio Raupp highlighted the achievements of his two-year mandate, mainly around the progress of Inova Empresa, a $14mi program built to boost innovation in the private sector through the provision of subsidized loans for specific projects.

"I am sure I have done my duty, both from a personal and institutional perspective, as a scientist and as a citizen," Raupp said.

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