Study examines technological capacity and innovation in human health biotech in Brazil
A new study titled “Accumulation of Technological Capacity for Innovation in Human Health Biotech Companies in Brazil: Exploratory Analysis and Practical Recommendations” was the first of its kind in Brazil and highly innovative in relation to international research. Coordinated by Professor Paulo Negreiros Figueiredo of Fundação Getulio Vargas’ Brazilian School of Public and Business Administration (FGV EBAPE), the study is highly significant for Brazil for two main reasons.
Firstly, biotechnology, especially for human health, offers countless opportunities for learning and accumulating technological capacities for significant innovations with very high added value, particularly in developing countries. Developing capacities for innovation in human health biotech at a national level also contributes to the much-needed structural transformation of the Brazilian economy.
Second, building up technological capabilities for innovation in biotech for human health at Brazilian companies has important socioeconomic implications:
- Brazil’s 203 million people are placing growing demands on the country’s universal public health system, which is enshrined in the Federal Constitution, leading to increasing pressure for government spending on public health services. Demographic factors and new therapies available in the public health system have increased the demand for biotech drugs and active pharmaceutical ingredients.
- During the critical phase of the COVID-19 pandemic, Brazil’s imports of inputs and technologies reached around US$20 billion. Limited domestic supply has led to a substantial increase in Brazil’s imports of biopharmaceuticals and active pharmaceutical ingredients, generating a continuous trade deficit in this area.
Professor Figueiredo’s study, funded by the National Council for Scientific and Technological Development (CNPq), lasted three years. This unprecedented (and challenging) study produced new evidence and analysis, at an appropriate level of detail and depth, which will serve as inputs for governmental and business initiatives aimed at growing and strengthening human health biotech activities in Brazil through the accumulation of technological capacities for significant innovations.
Based on an innovative methodology, the study identified different levels of technological capacity for innovation, its main sources and impacts in a group of 30 Brazilian biotech companies, including startups and established pharmaceutical companies.
The study was carried out by a multidisciplinary and inter-institutional group involving:
- Paulo N. Figueiredo, professor at FGV EBAPE and coordinator of the school’s Research Program on Technological Learning and Industrial Innovation in Brazil;
- Daniela Uziel, adjunct professor and innovation coordinator at Rio de Janeiro Federal University’s Center for Health Sciences;
- Marcela Cohen, adjunct professor at Fluminense Federal University’s Production Engineering Department and researcher in innovation management;
- Bernardo Cabral, adjunct professor at Bahia Federal University’s Economics School and researcher in biotech economics;
- Lohanna Palhinha, who is doing postdoctoral research in cellular and molecular biology at Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (Fiocruz);
- Pedro Gomes, who is doing a master’s in science and technology policy at Campinas State University and has an MBA in management of innovation and technological capacity from FGV;
- João Viana, who has an undergraduate degree in chemical engineering from Rio de Janeiro Rural Federal University and an FGV EBAPE scholarship.
- Caio Lemos, who is doing an undergraduate degree in administration at Rio de Janeiro Rural Federal University and has an introductory scientific research scholarship from FGV EBAPE.
The group is keen to interact with different stakeholders in the Brazilian biotech ecosystem in order to share and disseminate the results and recommendations of this study.