Letter IEDI n. 863 —Towards a more innovative Brazil
It is practically a consensus among entrepreneurs, public managers and specialists that the ability to innovate is crucial for the competitiveness of companies and nations. However, innovation cannot only stimulate economic growth but also help solve complex economic and social problems in areas such as health & safety, education, security, urban mobility, public management, equality and sustainability.
In this letter, the IEDI discusses some initiatives to advance innovation in Brazil, based on a study by Paulo Tigre, PhD in Science and Technology Policy at the University of Sussex (England) and (retired) Professor of the Institute of Economics, UFRJ. The work, whose full version is on our website (in Portuguese), is part of a series of fifteen studies carried out to support the elaboration of the IEDI's industrial strategy, to be announced soon. Some of them are already available: Letters IEDI n. 855, Jun 26, 2018; n. 856, Jun 28, 2018; n. 857, Jun 29, 2018; n. 858, Jul 2, 2018; n. 859, Jul 3, 2018; n. 860, Jul 5, 2018 and n. 862 of Jul 10, 2018.
According to the author, there are three lines of action that could improve the picture of innovation in the country:
1. Prioritize innovative activities with greater competitive potential. Knowing the technological needs of companies must be a permanent activity, and so does monitoring the diffusion of innovations. Such needs are not necessarily high-technology ones, as they may simply involve the adoption of the best productive practices that are already available. Supporting the interaction between technology users and suppliers has the advantage of channeling resources and technological efforts to concrete problems faced by economic agents.
The productive chains of the agricultural, mineral, industrial and services sectors open up many opportunities to attract providers of the innovative solutions that need to be developed and adapted to the national context. This includes technological infrastructure, development and operation of communication networks, internet of things, specialized machines and equipment, and software and technology services using artificial intelligence.
Many start-ups are emerging, bringing solutions to production, logistics and distribution, and thus contributing to increased quality and productivity.
2. Strengthen basic and technological education and promote their articulation with the productive sector. Public policies to strengthen basic and technical education, bringing them closer to the productive sector, are one of the fundamental steps for advancing innovation in the country. Various instruments are available, including the creation of specific courses at technical, undergraduate and postgraduate levels; funds and funding lines for university research in areas of social and economic interest; teacher qualification programs; introduction of new technologies in education; insertion of researchers in the industry; etc.
3. Design mission-oriented policies. The missions are an objective way of thinking about the dynamic interactions between horizontal (e.g. education, technological training, research and innovation) and vertical (health, environment, energy, etc.) policies. Mission-oriented policies contribute not only to giving greater focus and direction to R&D and innovation efforts but also to motivating and mobilizing the agents who will effectively implement them. Systematic public actions aimed at seizing technological opportunities to seek solutions to the great challenges of the Brazilian economy and society and to promote equity and sustainability can be a catalyst for mobilizing Brazilian science and technology.