How Has Innovation Been Impacted By Brazil's Historical Insecurity?

The country is now stable, but previous instability has impacted innovation


Brazil keeps showing its steady growth and rather promising future in the innovation and technology areas. However, the existing gap between the technological development and the economic performance of the country has raised many questions about its capability to sustain its economic growth which was demonstrated in the past few years.

The situation has been complicated since the 1980s with the pronounced degree of economic instability and the cycles of recession. It is only recently that we have been able to witness a steady growth, producing a trend which we have not seen elsewhere in the world. When discussing innovation development in Brazil, there is a strong link between an actual innovative stream and historical events. It seems that the country has been quite literally having ups and downs.

Until The Second World War, Brazil had a small number of scientists and only an incipient institutional research base. Science and technology were simply not in favor of investments and further development. The industry was almost at an embryonic stage and was based only in traditional areas. Historically, there was a lack of appreciation for innovation in business field which resulted in limited possibilities for developing sectors which were potentially more dynamic and had a prospect for growth.

A positive move came when the Ministry of Science and Technology (MCT) was established in 1985, signalling the country's drive for further development of innovation and technology sectors. The MCT managed to obtain significant budget increases for its projects. Due to the fact that the system had been developed spontaneously, its expansion appeared equally unplanned. Disciplines such as mathematics, physics and some areas of biological and medical sciences had strong leadership, attracting a significant financial support and students’ interest.

However, despite this positive step it was not all plain sailing. Political instability, along with economic difficulties in the late 1980s and early 1990s, meant that further growth had to be put on hold. The MCT was closed down twice and underwent complete restructuring.

Since then, the situation has stabilized and Brazil’s technological innovation found temporary success due to relative political and economic improvements. The most significant improvement in the S&T sector happened towards the end of the 1990s because of the creation of the Sectoral Funds for Science and Technology. By the turn of the millennium, despite the challenges, the country had built up a scientific community consisting of over 50,000 researchers with PhDs, becoming the largest and best qualified such body in Latin America.

Nowadays, we can see a positive trend in the country’s innovation sector and that it is capable of maintaining this growth. Bureaucracy and the difficulty of creating innovative and competitive businesses is unfortunately not just a matter of law and legal procedures though, and there is still a cultural bias toward monopoly and privilege which hold back Brazil from achieving greater success.

It’s important to identify companies’ capabilities for innovation and the ability to break in to the new markets. Innovation is often a major part of the invisible dispute between the system, global economic growth and individuals who want to bring it to life. As a sector, It is being pulled in many directions, leaving it little chance to expand and prove itself a worthy investment for the future economic growth of the country. 

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