[RIO DE JANEIRO] The Brazilian Development Bank (BNDES) has created a fund worth 153 million reais (US$68.4 million) to support technology development.
The Technology Fund launched last week (21 June) will sponsor projects that relate to economic and social development in specific subject areas, including agricultural biotechnology, drugs for neglected diseases, software and semiconductors.
Research into generating energy from biomass — such as developing fuel based on alcohol derived from fermented sugar cane — will also be eligible.
The bank has already invested US$128 million in such projects. The existing projects will be competing with new ones for the technology fund's grants.
The fund is intended to support projects that find technological solutions to problems already identified by Brazilian research institutes and economists.
It also aims to promote innovation by backing ideas that look set to introduce new products onto international markets, something that Brazil has not excelled at to date.
Aluísio Asti, one of bank's economists who helped set up the fund, told SciDev.Net that the bank considers innovation a priority, as "technology and innovation are critical factors for the country's development".Asti said the Technology Fund would operate in line with the bank's innovation policy that was introduced in 2005.