An Investigation on the Contribution of Universities and Research Institutes for Maturing the Brazilian Innovation System

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Albuquerque, Eduardo M.
Suzigan, Wilson
Cario, Silvio
Fernandes, Ana Cristina
Shima, Walter
Britto, Jorge Nogueira de Paiva
Barcelos, Achyles
Rapini, Márcia Siqueira
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The positive feedbacks between science and technology are decisive features of mature innovation systems (Cohen et al, 2002). The literature on National Systems of Innovation (NSI) and on recent successful catch up processes suggests that universities and research institutes can make very important contributions to development (Mazzoleni & Nelson, 2007; UNIDO, 2005). These contributions are associated with the emergence of patterns of interactions between these components of NSI and business enterprises, whereby knowledge flows in both directions. These two-way interactive relationships promote virtuous circles in the production and diffusion of knowledge in both the scientific and technological dimensions. Current research on university-industry linkages (henceforth, UILs) throughout catch up process indicates that the "modes of interaction" between universities/research institutes and firms change as the country develops (Eun et al, 2006). The dynamic relationship between these two key components of a NSI reflects the co-evolution of factors such as the research capabilities of universities and research institutes on the one hand, and the absorptive capacity of firms on the other. These factors define different "modes of interaction" and their changes over time. In the case of Latin American countries, the interactions described above do not seem to be working fully. Anecdotal evidence, case studies, and a limited amount of statistical data indicate that, while some firms are indeed benefiting from their contacts with universities and public labs, for the most part there is little fruitful interaction. This is limited to a handful of different business sectors. But while one can see areas of fruitful interaction between university and industry, these seem the exception not the rule. This paper investigates the academic side of the university-industry linkages, reporting PRELIMINARY results from a survey applied to research groups from universities and public institutes in Brazil. This version is very descriptive, and the discussions during Globelics will help to improve the analysis of these data and to shape a more elaborated version of this research report. As the focus is the academic side, from this standpoint the survey allows us to investigate issues like the nature of these interactions, their sophistication, how they differ across different science and engineering fields and across different industrial sectors. A very important issue is also to inquire about how research groups located in universities and public research institutes may benefit from these interactions with firms and other institutions.
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