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[RIO DE JANEIRO] The Brazilian government will invest almost US$30 million in a new nanotechnology programme during 2005 and 2006.

The programme was launched on 19 August in Campinas by Brazil's president Luiz Inácio 'Lula' da Silva and science minister Sergio Rezende.

Its main aim is to strengthen networks and stimulate cooperation between universities, research institutions and technology-based companies in order to develop nanotechnology products and processes.

Funds for the National Programme for the Development of Nanoscience and Nanotechnology will be distributed nationwide to support projects as varied as work from young researchers to the creation of big laboratories.

The programme will involve five national research institutions, 70 public and private universities, more than 1,000 researchers and many private companies. Four nanotechnology networks sponsored by the National Council for Scientific and Technological Development are already up and running.

"Brazil must export knowledge", said Lula in his speech in Campinas.

He emphasised that industry, and science and technology were his government's priorities, and said that investment and integrated policies for these sectors were guaranteed to help the country develop.

Lula added that ensuring the availability of resources for science and technology was a particular concern of his, despite the economic difficulties facing the country (see Legitimising Brazil's freeze of research funds).