University of São Paulo: The challenges that Brazilian science poses for the next government

During the covid-19 pandemic, the work of Brazilian researchers and scientists stood out for its relevance in studies to combat the disease. But the scientific area continues to face challenges due to the lack of government investment in the sector.

In an interview with Jornal da USP in Ar 1st Edition , Professor Glauco Arbix, from the Department of Sociology of the Faculty of Philosophy, Letters and Human Sciences (FFLCH) at USP and coordinator of the Innovation and Competitiveness Observatory (OIC) of the Institute for Advanced Studies (IEA), discusses the topic that will be debated in a series of seminars in partnership with Luiz Eugênio Mello, scientific director of the Foundation for Research Support of the State of São Paulo (Fapesp).

Arbix emphasizes that Brazilian science is very active in combating the pandemic and gives an example of the professor at the Faculty of Medicine (FM) at USP, Ester Sabino, who sequenced the genome of the coronavirus and contributed to the development of vaccines. The professor, however, sees that the current Brazilian government develops a bad policy in relation to science, education and universities: “Countries are moving towards a new economy, towards a new digitalized society, with all its impacts in the area of ​​Intelligence Artificial and robotics. These are very strong advances and Brazil is out of it, it cannot keep up with this evolution”. “We are very late. This is the great disastrous legacy that the federal government is leaving,” she adds.

In 2020, Decree No. 10,534 of the National Innovation Policy established, within the scope of the federal public administration, the purpose of guiding and coordinating strategies and programs to encourage innovation in the productive sector. The OIC coordinator talks about the lack of concrete goals and objectives and budgets in these documents: “We cannot imagine that the Brazilian Science, Technology and Innovation system works based on documents, on paper. We cannot understand in these documents exactly what potentials Brazil has. This mapping of our potential is the only way that allows us to link our activity with our objective”.

Glauco Arbix realizes that the cuts in funding flows provided by the government in the country’s innovation programs negatively affect the perspective of young people of the new generation in Brazilian science. In addition, the professor draws attention to the presence of the public sector in countries where science is developed. “In countries that have advanced and that continue to advance in science, we do not find a situation in which the government ‘comes out’. Even American universities [such as] Stanford, Harvard, and Columbia are universities in private rights, but they live largely financed by public funds. Because? Because science needs high-risk activities and it has a very big return for society,” he argues.

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