Building Brazilian Bridges

Nessa Carey, International Director at PraxisUnico recently met a number of delegations from Brazil  at the request of the FCO and IPO.

In November 2014, the IPO hosted a delegation from Brazilian universities and research organisations, with the aim of exploring possibilities for joint working with UK research institutes and, where possible, facilitate transfer of technologies between the UK and Brazil.

As part of this Nessa met with representatives from SENAI (National Services for Industrial Apprenticeships), ANPEI (the association dedicated to research and development in innovative businesses) and a large group of Brazilian government officials involved in energy innovation. All the delegations were keen to learn more about UK approaches to technology transfer/knowledge exchange and commercialisation (TT/KEC).

They also wanted to understand how PraxisUnico interacts with its members, what services it provides and how it designs and delivers training to support the TT/KEC community. Brazil is investing at a high level in education and research but faces a number of challenges to the effective transfer of innovation from the academic to the commercial environments. These include a relatively conservative mindset in the investment community, based on historical concerns.

The delegations emphasised the heterogeneity in Brazil. It shouldn’t really be a surprise that in a country of Brazil’s size there is considerable variation in different regions in business and innovation cultures and economies. There is no “one size fits all” approach that will work in such a complex environment, and much of the work that is ongoing at the moment, for example via a collaboration between SENAI and MIT, is mapping the various sectors, regions and institutions to identify the most likely sources of transferable innovation.

This is accompanied by research to find the most appropriate commercialisation models for the different situations. The topic that resonated most strongly with the various delegations was IP, which was clearly a big issue for most of the individuals and their organisations. All of them were very interested in the Lambert toolkit, and responded positively to this model of identifying IP issues and defining the most appropriate routes forwards.

With the recent refreshing of Lambert for the home community, there seems to be a good opportunity for the UK to work with countries such as Brazil to create versions applicable to the specific legal, economic and cultural drivers there. Brazil is of course one of the countries which is being targeted by the Newton Fund, and our hope is that this will increase the opportunities for interactions, both for PraxisUnico and for our members.