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Web Exclusive | September 2017

Global linkages vital for innovation & growth

Collaboration with academia, building international tie-ups and leveraging financial resources to effectively transform ideas into commercial products will help with industrial innovation and growth.

The State of São Paulo in Brazil has been promoting the aforementioned concepts to build a vibrant industrial and innovation ecosystem. As part of growing and continuing international linkages, a delegation from São Paulo visited Lubbock, Texas, recently which included personnel from São Paulo Research Foundation (FAPESP), a public funding agency which began operating in 1962 and university academics.

Financial resources and human talents are becoming difficult to obtain these days, which are influenced by many factors, both domestic and international. Competition from sister industries and other competing fields is a factor. Disruptive technologies that have immediate consumer acceptance have become fewer and far between, which emphasises the need for multipronged collaborations.

The State of São Paulo in Brazil has realised this need since the early 1960s and has been effectively leveraging state funds to support industrial innovation and growth. One aspect they are actively pursuing is establishing formal research collaborations with institutes in many countries. This way, it benefits their industry and academia as well as those from other places such as Texas.

Speaking to an attentive audience recently in Lubbock at an event organised by Texas Tech University, Dr Carlos Brito Cruz, Science Director of FAPESP, São Paulo highlighted the collaborations they have been able to forge with global companies such as GSK, Shell, etc. Unicamp, a state university in São Paula has been a pioneer in startups culture in Brazil, which has helped with the creation of about 454 companies that has resulted with over 21,000 jobs.

While speaking at the above event, Dr Lawrence Schovanec, President of Texas Tech University emphasised the importance of international collaboration and stated, “research universities that aspire to address global and grand challenges in research and education should focus on international collaborations.” He added, “international linkages enable us to understand the culture and people of different nations, in addition to strengthening academic and research tie-ups.”

In the State of São Paulo, industries have a higher share in R&D expenditure followed by the state and federal governments. Industries contribute to about 57 per cent in the total science and technology, research expenditure in the state and have an active role in the undertakings of R&D projects in big research centers funded by public agencies such as FAPESP. Perhaps, this is a valuable message for public funded centres in the United States and other countries.

More recently, the US government is supporting many industry-academia collaborative centres as part of revitalising its manufacturing sector. One such centre related to textiles is led by Cambridge, MA-based Massachusetts Institute of Technology called Advanced Functional Fabrics of America (AFFOA).

Considering the State of São Paulo as a model, industries and academia can work together to effectively unitise human and financial resources to advance to their next stages of growth and development, such as job creation and entrepreneurial ecosystem.

(By: Seshadri Ramkumar, Texas Tech University, USA)
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