BRASILIA, March 15 (Xinhua) -- Brazil's determination to boost innovation and productivity of local companies is being realized by the Financing Agency for Studies and Projects (FINEP), which helps fund the research and development of new enterprises in the country.
Glauco Arbix, president of the biggest agency in South America that promotes innovation, highlighted FINEP's important role in helping carry out new initiatives on Tuesday.
"It is difficult to find an agency like ours in the world. FINEP's range of activities is very large. The three legs of our activities are repayable loans, non-refundable loans (for universities), and economic subsidy for companies," he told Xinhua.
According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), Brazil is the country that invests the most in research and development among Latin American countries, accounting for 1.28 percent of its GDP, followed by Chile with 0.7 percent, Argentina 0.5 percent, and Mexico 0.37 percent.
Associated with the Ministry of Science and Technology and with an annual budget of 4.2 billion reais (about 2.5 billion dollars), FINEP provides funds for scientific and technological development, from research and development for large companies to local innovation systems.
FINEP manages the National Fund for Scientific and Technological Development, which is funding the strategic areas of the country and receiving resources from 16 sector funds.
"We provide financing for 3,000 companies annually, most of which are small ones and many of them are start-ups. In addition to supporting major Brazilian companies like Embraer to launch new aircraft, we also finance foreign companies established in Brazil," Arbix said.
Arbix said the Brazilian business tradition is not very innovative, with a tendency toward protectionism. But nowadays, while investment demand in general is decreasing, the demand for investment in innovation is growing.
"This year the Enterprise Movement for Innovation was launched with the participation of the main entities of the productive sector. It is an unprecedented event in Brazil," he said.
Arbix recalled that Brazil started the Productive Development Plan in 2008, with the main guidelines being investment and innovation.
"The goal is to keep the Brazilian competitiveness in areas that the country has already been a leader, such as agribusiness, ethanol and regional aircraft, and create competition in areas that are not well developed, such as software, pharmaceuticals, clean energy, semiconductors, nanotechnology," Arbix said.
"We also developed a very large project in information and communication technology, with applications in medicine and education, and we are accelerating in the software industry," he said.