FAPESP and CONICET want more collaboration between Brazil and Argentina
April 16, 2015
By Heitor Shimizu, in Buenos Aires
Agência FAPESP – Building closer ties between researchers in Brazil and Argentina, extending existing scientific collaborations and creating opportunities that stimulate the development of new partnerships were the goals highlighted at the opening of FAPESP Week Buenos Aires on April 8.
“We know close ties already exist between Brazilian and Argentinian researchers, but we want these relations to be strengthened further with this series of meetings involving renowned scientists from our two countries,” said FAPESP President Celso Lafer.
“The themes proposed are a substantial reflection of the work done jointly by Argentinian and Brazilian researchers, who have a significant track record of academic cooperation, for geographical, political, economic and cultural reasons.”
Lafer stressed that partnerships are increasing not just among researchers but also among institutions, which are offering new opportunities for cooperation.
“Since October 2010 FAPESP has had a cooperation agreement with CONICET, Argentina’s National Scientific & Technological Research Council, to expand scientific collaboration between Argentina and São Paulo State through the funding of joint research projects and other scientific activities,” he said.
“The agreement between FAPESP and CONICET has already resulted in three joint calls for proposals, leading to the selection and current funding of 39 research projects in various knowledge areas.”
Lafer also mentioned the example of the radio telescope for the Large Latin American Millimeter Array (LLAMA), which is supported by FAPESP, the University of São Paulo, and Argentina’s Ministry of Science, Technology & Productive Innovation (MINCyT).
The next speaker was CONICET President Roberto Salvarezza, who also highlighted the importance of international research collaboration.
“In a world where knowledge and the representation of knowledge are drivers of the development of countries and their societies, international collaboration plays a fundamental role,” Salvarezza said.
“In Argentina’s case, international cooperation in its science and technology system is very strong. An example is scientific production. In 2014, 40% of the 11,000-odd articles published by Argentinian researchers were the result of work done in international collaborative projects.”
According to Salvarezza, a large part of this collaboration involves partnerships between Argentinian and Brazilian researchers, supported to a significant extent by CONICET on Argentina’s side, and on the Brazilian side by FAPESP, the Ministry of Education’s Office for Faculty Development (CAPES), and the National Scientific & Technological Development Council (CNPq).
“But scientific collaboration between Argentina and Brazil can increase much more, and FAPESP Week Buenos Aires represents an excellent opportunity to multiply these partnerships by bringing together scientists from both countries to discuss such important topics as energy, health, food, nanotechnology, Latin American history and integration, science education, and how better to integrate universities and industry, a key issue for our countries and the world,” Salvarezza said.
The last speaker in the FAPESP Week Buenos Aires opening ceremony was Alejandro Ceccatto, Argentina’s Vice Minister of Science & Technology. He stressed the importance of “strategic relations between Brazil and Argentina, and fostering the already strong ties between researchers in our two countries”.
Meeting with Argentina’s minister of science and technology
On April 7 Lafer and Carlos Henrique de Brito Cruz, FAPESP’s Scientific Director, arrived in Buenos Aires for talks with Science, Technology & Productive Innovation Minister Lino Barañao.
The agenda for the meeting included a proposal to extend research collaboration between higher education and research institutions in Argentina and São Paulo State, the backdrop for the conference.
Minister Barañao told the FAPESP officials how Argentina’s science, technology and innovation system works, and outlined the important changes it has undergone since the ministry was established seven years ago.
According to Barañao, growing investment in scientific and technological research in Argentina has led to a concern with the internationalization of research and research outcomes, a process to which Latin American integration is indispensable.
He expounded the view that science entails union and obeys a logic that ignores frontiers as limits to integration.
“Our integration is strategic, but if it is to materialize we must change some facts on the ground,” he said. “For example, there are fewer researchers in our public universities than in some companies. On the other hand, we must find ways to harness the creativity of Latin American researchers, who have always had to work very hard with very scant resources,” Barañao said.
Lafer and Brito Cruz provided Barañao with a profile of research institutions in São Paulo State. They also explained where FAPESP’s budget comes from, how it funds institutions and researchers, and how it partners with institutions in other countries to provide joint funding for collaborative projects.
On this latter point, Lafer pointed out that the process of research internationalization promoted by FAPESP involves a great deal of collaboration with Argentinian researchers, highlighting the wide variety of areas in which researchers in the two countries are working together and the potential for even more intense collaboration.
Brito Cruz noted the number of projects supported jointly by FAPESP and CONICET.
“As a result of a joint call for proposals with CONICET, with which FAPESP has a cooperation agreement, there are now 39 ongoing research projects,” he said. “However, we have the capacity to increase this number. There is growing demand for support for joint research, including large-scale projects in all kinds of discipline, and we’re in a position to meet this demand.”
An example is the June 2014 agreement between FAPESP, the University of São Paulo (USP) and Argentina’s ST&I Ministry (MINCyT) establishing the conditions for implementation of the Large Latin American Millimeter Array (LLAMA), a collaboration between Argentina and Brazil that calls for construction of a radio telescope at millimeter and sub-millimeter wavelengths on a site in northwestern Argentina more than 4,700 meters above sea level.
Once the project has been completed, it is expected to put Argentina and Brazil at the forefront of international research in radio astronomy.
The terms of the FAPESP-CONICET agreement require each institution to contribute about the same amount of funding for a five-year period, including an initial capital injection equivalent to US$17 million.
“What we want to do is assure the requisite conditions for joint research projects to be carried out,” Barañao said. “That means not only funding for basic research but also the means for application of the jointly obtained knowledge.”
For more information, go to: www.fapesp.br/week2015/buenosaires.
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