In September, the Nesta-led Global Innovation Policy Acceleator programme concluded its fourth run with its largest-ever cohort of senior innovation policymakers, this time from Brazil.
The Brazil Global Innovation Policy Accelerator (GIPA) programme has built capability within the Brazilian innovation policy system, fostered a new network of innovation policy expertise, and strengthened connections between the UK and Brazilian innovation policy systems.
The nine-month executive development programme is driven by the challenges and needs of developing country innovation systems, and draws on the diverse innovation policy expertise from across the UK system.
To date, GIPA has worked with 17 teams of innovation policy directors drawn from 70 agencies and ministries across 11 developing countries. Through its projects, events and workshops, it has reached over 1,000 people on three continents, and connected to officials from over 40 UK innovation policy institutions and organisations. In 2019, GIPA ran with a cohort of 26 senior Brazilian innovation policymakers, drawn from a wide variety of agencies and organisations across the Brazilian innovation policy ecosystem.
Each team of policymakers visited the UK twice for an intensive week, and through GIPA’s carefully-structured programme they were introduced to a new suite of policymaking tools, techniques and approaches, and developed a collaborative innovation policy project they were supported to deliver across the 9 months in the UK and Brazil.
Below are three examples of the GIPA Brazil cohort teams and their projects.
The team sought to explore new policy mechanisms which would improve the support for clusters of more-traditional industries to embrace digitalisation in production - improving their competitiveness.
They focused on the well-established textile sector in the state of Pernambuco. Following an investigative phase surveying companies in the cluster on current digital maturity and running workshops with business owners, the team identified that the real needs from digitalisation of the businesses was different from that assumed, and through SEBRAE-PE went on to pilot far more individualised intervention plans for digitalisation with companies, based on their direct needs.
Going forward, they will trial a suite of better pre-defined innovation support products and services, and strengthen the skills and range of digitalisation support providers focused on improving innovation the textiles cluster.
The team aimed to raise the profile of sanitation challenges and solutions within the Brazilian innovation system, as it is a huge area of social development where innovation could reap rewards.
They met with dozens of stakeholder organisations: public, private and charitable foundations, as well as collecting new data from a survey of 16 sanitation companies and undertaking 3 co-creation workshops around the country to identify potential solutions and raise the profile of the challenge focus with relevant innovation funders.
Successes from the project so far cover the inclusion of sanitation theme in the latest Finep start up call, in Procel public call in energy efficiency, and in the technology programmes of SESI-SENAI in Rio de Janeiro state.
Next steps for the project include getting a specific innovation investment clause for sanitation into law, modelled on the existing ones for oil and gas, and electricity sectors, and launching a sanitation-sector specific Finep support programme.
There's a lot I can take back to my work in Brazil to promote better social innovation such as methods from the UK innovation system and new connections with Brazillian colleagues.Eliane Carvalhar Damasceno, Firjan
The team aimed to develop some specific programmes to help change the mindset of companies and academics that they were from different 'worlds' and couldn’t work together, or for each other, effectively: a major challenge in Brazil.
After completing an extensive review of the literature, supported by the University of Manchester in the UK, the team also interviewed and undertook a workshop with a range of universities and science and technology companies, looking particularly at structural barriers to skills moving between academia and more entrepreneurial businesses.
Their early solution is a new 'Doctor Entrepreneur' ('Doutor Empreendedor') programme: co-funded support for post-doctoral fellows for two years to work with entrepreneurial companies on a bespoke identified consulting opportunity, while also being provided other support such as for business plan writing, coworking spaces, entrepreneurship training and an academic tutor.
They are seeking to launch a prototype of the programme in the six months, focused on Rio Grande do Sul, before potentially rolling out the programme nationally supported by FAPERGS, CNPq and SEBRAE.
This blog is cross-posted from the Newton Fund: http://www.newtonfund.ac.uk/news/success-stories/developing-the-capability-of-senior-innovation-policymakers-in-brazil/