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[RIO DE JANEIRO] The Brazilian president Luiz Inácio 'Lula' da Silva took steps earlier this month to remove some of the barriers that make it difficult for public sector researchers and private companies to collaborate.

Legislation to this effect, signed by the president on 2 December, is seen as an attempt to stimulate research innovation.

According to Francelino Grando, secretary for technological policy and innovation at the Ministry of Science and Technology, the law highlights the government's view that science and technology play an important role in Brazil's economy and development.

The law encourages the public and private sectors to share staff, funding and facilities such as laboratories. Until now, such collaboration was not officially permitted. Public sector researchers had to ask permission to work on privately funded projects, even when this did not interfere with their university positions. In addition, they could not accept pay for such projects.

The law allows private companies to give funds to public institutions to carry out research on their behalf. For the first time, researchers will be paid for the time their work on these partnerships. 

Grando says the private sector drives innovation, while the universities create the human resources innovation requires by producing researchers

He hopes the new law will improve communication between the two sectors, both of which were invited to contribute to the drafting of the new law.

Paulo Skaf, president of the São Paulo Industries Federation, told the Gazeta Mercantil that the project represents a solid guarantee for Brazilian industry. "This is an important step to participate competitively on the international market," he said.
The executive director of the National Association of Innovative Enterprises in Research and Development, Olívio Ávila, also supports the government's initiative. In an interview with the same newspaper, he said the law should improve integration between industry and public institutions.

He added, however, that the industrial sector would only be satisfied once they knew the details of the law will be implemented. The government expects to release these in April 2005.

Link to the legislation (in Portuguese)

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