Brazil’s Scientist-Entrepreneurs Unfettered

Herton Escobar – Science Magazine, 01/12/216

Full-time professors at public universities in Brazil will now be allowed to carry out research in the private sector—and get paid for it, without having to drop their academic jobs. The change is the result of a new law, signed yesterday by President Dilma Rousseff, designed to bring science and industry closer together.

The law authorizes universities and public research institutions to collaborate more freely with companies, including a mechanism for giving companies access to public research facilities. The changes are meant to put Brazil “on a new path to innovation,” says biologist Helena Nader, head of the Brazilian Society for the Progress of Science here, who helped draft the legislation.

Ties between academia and industry are common practice in the United States and Europe, “which is why they are so much ahead of us,” Nader says. In Brazil, she says, cultural and regulatory hurdles have in the past thrown up barriers between public and private research that have often left innovations languishing in academia. “A revolutionary technology isn’t worth anything if it just sits on a laboratory shelf,” Rousseff said in announcing the new law in Brasília.

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