Event highlights strong links with Brazil

Brazil seminar

A senior delegation from one of Brazil’s leading Universities visited Cambridge recently to explore the potential for further collaboration.

The Rector of Universidade Estadual de Campinas (Unicamp), Professor Fernando Ferreira Costa, met with the Cambridge Vice-Chancellor Professor Sir Leszek Borysiewicz last Friday (2 March), before a day-long seminar involving academics from both institutions.

Unicamp is a research-intensive university located in the state of São Paulo. It is widely recognised as one of the top-ranked Latin American institutions of higher education.

It contributes 17% of the country’s scientific output and produces 10% of Brazil’s PhDs. Through its technology transfer office, Inova Unicamp, it has become the country’s leading university in the production of Intellectual Property. Cambridge Enterprise is working with Inova to share best practice in technology transfer, in a collaboration funded by the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

The seminar, “Research collaborations: Opportunities, Policy and Practice”, was organised by Cambridge Enterprise in partnership with Inova.

It was funded by the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s Prosperity Fund, and coordinated by the International Strategy Office, the Research Strategy Office and the Institute for Manufacturing.

Making his opening remarks, the Vice-Chancellor commented on Cambridge and Unicamp’s shared belief that “research must not only be of the highest quality, but must be for the benefit of society.” He added that “friendship and solidarity are essential” for successful collaboration, and hoped the Rector of Unicamp would feel that “he was very much among friends.”

Professor Costa gave an overview of Unicamp’s activities and said: “I am sure this is the beginning of increasing and real cooperation between our universities.”

Speaking on behalf of the UK government, Professor Sir Adrian Smith, Director General of Knowledge and Innovation at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, declared: “Our aim is to maintain and extend the UK’s position of as one of Brazil’s top partners in science and innovation. We also want the UK to be a gateway for Brazil’s internationalisation.”

After keynote speeches by Dr Jennifer Barnes, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for International Strategy, and by Professor Ronaldo Pilli, Unicamp’s Provost for Research, the meeting broke up into two parallel sessions to discuss opportunities and challenges for collaborative research in biological sciences and energy.

On Thursday, Professor Costa had the opportunity to visit the School of Clinical Medicine, the Cambridge Institute for Medical Research, the Wellcome Trust Stem Cell Institute and the Centre of Latin American Studies.

The University of Cambridge has a long tradition of engagement with Brazil. As was pointed out by Professor Steve Oliver, one of the panellists on the biological sciences session, the University Herbarium holds samples of plants collected by Charles Darwin during his famous voyage on The Beagle.

The prestigious Simón Bolívar Chair of Latin American Studies, a visiting professorship for distinguished Latin American intellectuals, has been held by notable Brazilians including economist Celso Furtado, former president Fernando Henrique Cardoso, and sociologist José de Souza Martins.

There are currently many existing research collaborations in areas as diverse as infectious diseases, plant biology, animal welfare, renewable energy, cancer studies and stem cell research.

One of the purposes of the seminar –which focused on research in biological sciences and energy—was to explore ways in which these links can be strengthened, and new links developed.

Cambridge University Press opened its Brazil branch in 1998. Today, with a head office in São Paulo and an office in Rio de Janeiro, CUP is one of the largest international publishers in this important market.

Brazil is a growing market for English-language teaching and ESOL examinations.

The U.K. is Brazil’s second largest partner in scientific research. Engagement with Brazil is a key strategic priority for the University of Cambridge for the coming decades.

Cambridge has agreements with Brazilian funding bodies such as CAPES (Federal Agency for the Support and Evaluation of Graduate Education) to offer scholarships to Brazilian citizens.

One of the purposes of Unicamp’s delegation is to explore the possibility of sending Unicamp graduate students and post-docs to Cambridge through the mobility scheme Science Without Borders, announced last year by the Brazilian president, Dilma Rousseff.

The Rector of Unicamp and Professor Pilli were joined by fellow academics Professor Roberto Lotufo, Professor Rubens Maciel Filho and Professor Gonçalo Pereira.

Pictured are (l-r) Professor Fernando Ferreira Costa, Professor Sir Leszek Borysiewicz and Dr Jennifer Barnes, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for International Strategy