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Policy background

Transport research priorities are established by the Steering Committees for each of the transport Sectorial Funds, based on the strategic actions of the Government Plan. The integration of these Sectors is managed by the Sectorial Funds Coordination Committees. The Steering Committee is integrated by ministry representatives from the Ministry of Science, Technology, Innovation and Communications (MCTIC) and the Ministry of Infrastructure, government agencies, universities, enterprises and funding institutions.

The Plan for Logistics and Transportation (PNLT), developed by the Ministry of Transport with the Ministry of Defence and first launched in 2007, is a long-term planning document that is updated periodically. It includes a broad investment programme that aims at a shift from road towards rail and waterway freight transport. The 2013 Transport and Urban Mobility Plan focuses on the expansion of transport infrastructure and increased use of energy-efficient modes of transport.

Institutional framework of transport research

The Ministry of Science, Technology, Innovation and Communications (MCTIC) is the government institution responsible for creating, implementing and managing research policy and operation in Brazil. The Ministry manages funding agencies and 26 Research Support Foundations (FAPs) which are located in each federal state and at the Federal District of Brasilia. These research support foundations aim to assist the research and innovation community in their respective state.

There are two main funding institutions in Brazil: the Innovation Agency (FINEP) and the National Council for Scientific and Technological Development (CNPq) which both operate under the Ministry. The following organisations are responsible for the operation of four Sectorial R&D funds in the transport sector:

These Sectorial Funds are part of the wider National Fund for Scientific and Technological Development (FNDCT). The objective of these funds is to promote R&D investments to increase the competitiveness of their respective sectors. In general, the Sectorial Funds promote R&D programmes and projects in transport-related areas such as materials, techniques and process of construction, repair and maintenance; training of human resources; development of industrial technology and implementation of infrastructure for research activities.

While FINEP manages the resources of Sectorial Funds and receives additional funding for its own innovation programmes, CNPq is the main public source for research funding:

  • The FINEP gives non-reimbursable funding for the Sectorial Funds. The Sectorial Funds distribute resources through bid invitations for sponsorship of cooperative projects between the universities and the private sector in order to foster technologic innovation cooperative networks, institutional projects, academic meetings and consultancy studies. The Sectorial Funds support all kinds of projects from basic science to more specialised areas, including transport research. The FINEP also provides reimbursable funding for research in transportation, with own or transferred resources. The proposals can be made anytime of the year. The grace and amortisation periods differ according to the characteristics of the project and the borrowing institution. The credits are repayable with a long-term interest rate plus spread (2-6% p.a.)
  • The CNPq encourages the academic community to sponsor tuition scholarships and aid. The CNPq funds research scholarships in universities, think-tanks and enterprises (small and medium-sized) within the country and abroad. Also, the CNPq gives aid for project implementation and sponsors students and researchers to participate in top scientific national and international events, meetings and to publish in scientific journals.

In addition, the FAPs are the Innovation Support Foundations. They provide tuition scholarships and research funding for projects and/or studies within the country or abroad. The scholarships go to research in graduate studies (including postdoctoral) at Brazilian or foreign universities (sometimes as part of a sandwich doctoral programme). The research funding includes regular financial aid for research, equipment reparations, arrival expenses of guest researchers, organisation and participation in scientific or technological meetings, and stipends for publications.

There is also funding from private sources but on a much smaller scale. 

Funding Sources and Support Initiatives - Current ongoing programmes:

  • Inova Talent Programme: Seeks to increase the number of qualified innovation professionals active in Brazil's business sector
  • Brazilian-Swiss Joint Research Programme: Projects in information and communication technologies and water (related to the environment) are eligible for funding
  • EU-Brazil Cooperation Agreement