A study by a Brazilian researcher examining interaction between universities and companies has documented positive societal, economic and environmental impacts as well as increases in academic productivity. Researchers and research groups who collaborate with industry are scientifically more productive, the study found.
The study, conducted by Renato de Castro Garcia, a professor at the University of Campinas Economics Institute (IE-UNICAMP) is published in the journal Science and Public Policy. Its findings are based on a questionnaire answered by 1,005 researchers and representatives of research centers who reported collaboration with firms to Brazil’s National Council for Scientific and Technological Development.
“We divided the researchers into those who interacted regularly and those who interacted only once with business organizations. We found that commercial factors were important for both groups. However, those who interacted regularly saw intellectual benefits such as new ideas for projects or scientific publications as most important,” Garcia said.
Garcia is also co-editor of the book “Case studies on university-business interaction in Brazil” with Márcia Rapini of the Federal University of Minas Gerais (UFMG) and Silvio Cário of the Federal University of Santa Catarina.
“In Brazil the sectors that interact with universities are often not those considered science-intensive or close to the knowledge frontier, such as electronics, pharmaceuticals or aerospace, for example,” said Rapini.
Another finding she highlighted was that interaction occurs in firms with their own internal research and development (R&D) departments. “When a firm produces knowledge internally, it tends to want to reach out to academia. Firms that merely survive don’t produce knowledge. This was a lesson we learned. If the firm doesn’t want to do it, it doesn’t happen. If the basic demand isn’t there, there won’t be any interaction,” Rapini said.
“The book was made possible by a team who brought actual case studies from each state. Some chapters analyze partnerships between universities and non-traditional industries. We obtained different results from those reported in studies conducted elsewhere, mainly in developed countries. We learned a great deal about our own reality,” Rapini said.