clusters that create regional and national centers of economic development and that facilitate new technology, Mr. Lehrman observed. “Eventually, that is the goal of all of us,” he said, “which is economic development, the development of new products, and commercialization of technology.”
Mr. Lehrman said the panel is fortunate to have four experts on clusters, science parks, and technopoles, and how they contribute to the innovation systems of their nations and regions.
State Secretary Duque Portugal began with a few facts about Minas Gerais. The state is located west of Rio de Janeiro, Brasilia, and Sao Paulo, has a population of 20 million, and covers a territory about the size of France.
The state’s economy has been growing “reasonably well,” Dr. Portugal said. It has a GDP of $122 billion and the nation’s second-largest industrial park. The state is a leader in mining, metallurgy, coffee, biotechnology, and other industries. For Brazil, Minas Gerais has roads, railways, airports, and other infrastructure, and is responsible for 18.5 percent of the nation’s energy generation.
By many measures, Brazil has been making good strides in terms of scientific output, he noted. The number of Brazilian articles published in scientific journals has grown from less than 5,000 a year in the early 1990s to more than 30,000 in 2008, and its global share of such papers has risen from about 0.5 percent to 2.6 percent. Master’s degrees awarded annually have surged from around 5,000 in 1993 to 33,360 in 2008. Ph.D degrees have risen sharply, to 10,711. That is a good output for a Latin American country and emerging nations, he said.
The big challenge “is how to transfer this science and technology into production, productivity, quality, competitiveness, and better employment,” Dr. Portugal said. He displayed a slide that shows the “technology intensity” of foreign trade in Brazil. In 2006, Brazil imported more than twice as many “high-technology” goods, valued at around $21 billion, than it exported. Brazil also imported more “medium high-technology” goods than it exported that year. The country enjoys a large surplus in “medium-low technology” and “low technology” products. He noted that these data are a bit out of date. While there is improvement, however, the balance isn’t substantially different.
Brazil exports a lot of agricultural goods and raw materials, such as iron and soybeans, which require technology. Such products, however, don’t have a lot of aggregate value, he said. “So the big challenge we have is how to provide more value to the economy through innovation.”