Editorial Feature

Nanotechnology in Brazil: Market Report

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Brazil, located in the eastern part of South America bordering the Atlantic Ocean, has an overall area of 8,514,877 km2. As of July 2012, it had a population of 199,321,413.

The manufacturing, agricultural, mining, and service sectors of the country are well developed. Brazil is regarded as South America’s prominent economic power. With a GDP of $2.294 trillion in 2011, Brazil is the world’s seventh largest economy.

Technological research in the country is garnering worldwide recognition. Research activities are well backed by the government and pursued by many research institutes and public universities. Brazil has been recognized as a pioneer in nanotechnology research among the Latin American nations.

Nanotechnology Organizations

Brazil has several organizations and networks dedicated toward supporting and exploring nanoscience. A short introduction to the leading nanotechnology-related organizations in Brazil is provided below.

Laboratório Nacional de Luz Síncrotron—LNLS runs the only Synchrotron Light Source in Latin America. Designed and built with Brazilian technology, LNLS was started in 1997 and offers access to the business and scientific community across the nation and abroad. The laboratory has been a development partner for national industry projects in the areas of chemicals, energy, and pharmaceuticals.

Rede de Nanotecnologia Molecular e de Interfaces (Renami)—It is a study center for the advancement of nanostructured materials, devices, and interfaces for molecular nanotechnology. The network includes a number of research groups from 17 institutions.

Centro Brasileiro-Argentino de Nanotecnologia (CBAN)—It is a joint venture supported by the Ministério da Ciência e Tecnologia e Inovacao to combine the developments in the field of nanotechnology of both Brazil and Argentina. The areas that have been effectively covered are nanophotonics, nanobiotechnology, nanobiostructures, nanotech molecular nanobiomagnetism, nanocoatings, nanosciences, nanocosmetics, simulation/models nanoglicobiotechnology and CNT.

Cooperative Research Network for Semiconductor Nanodevices and Nanostructured Materials (Rede Cooperativa Para Pesquisa Em Nanodispositivos Semicondutores E Materiais Nanoestruturados)—The network carries out research on nanostructured semiconductor materials; semiconductor nanodevices based on Si and SiC, wide gap materials, ceramics and polymers; optical properties and transport in nanostructures and low dimensional semiconductor devices (wires, wells, and quantum dots); and nanodevices for applications such as physicochemical detectors and optical sensors.

Nanotechnology Companies

Nanotechnology is a diversified field that has applications in numerous industries. The activities of leading Brazilian nanotechnology companies are briefly described below.

BIOLAB—It is a Brazilian pharmaceutical corporation that develops, produces, and markets medicines for orthopedics, cardiology, geriatrics, rheumatology, endocrinology, general practice, pediatrics, and dermatology.

NANOX®—It is one of the largest national nanotechnology companies (associated with the branch of chemistry) headquartered in São Carlos, in the state of São Paulo. São Carlos is recognized for hosting large academic centers and for being the creator of knowledge and research. NANOX® is a company that develops, manufactures, and commercializes solutions for the nanotechnology sector.

Nanum Nanotecnologia—This company is dedicated to the synthesis of nanoscale metal oxides. It is a pioneer in Latin America in the manufacture and marketing of post-nanostructured ceramics and has a command over different methods for converting them into new high value-added products.

Nanotechnology Education and Research

Brazil is home to several universities that offer research and educational openings in nanotechnology. Listed below are some of the Brazilian universities and the research opportunities or academic courses they offer.

University of Campinas—Promotes Micro and Nanoelectronics Technologies for Intelligent Integrated Systems (NAMITEC).

Prof. Adalberto Fazzio Research group—The focus of the research performed by this group is to gain insights into the structural and electronic properties of clusters and solids. It is a part of the Instituto de Física da USP.

Instituto de Ciências Biológicas—Affiliated to the Universidade de Brasília, the institute offers a postgraduate program in Nanobiotechnology and Nanoscience.

Oswaldo Cruz Institute—Offers a postgraduate course in chemical and pharmaceutical nanotechnology.

PUC-Rio—Provides multidisciplinary research opportunities in nanotechnology. Scientists and students can work with molecular structures, simulators, computer quantum molecular electronics, and nanostructured materials and devices. PUC-Rio has a number of well-equipped laboratories, and also provides undergraduate and postgraduate courses.

Recent Developments

The first Brazil-Canada workshop on nanotechnology was hosted by Brazil in December 2012, in São Paulo. The aim of the workshop, which was set up by Nanotechnology Coordination at the Brazilian Ministry for Science Technology and Innovation, and the Energy and Nuclear Research National Institute (IPEN), was to find potential nanotechnology projects that could be controlled as joint ventures between the two nations. The workshop involved numerous companies including CelluForce, the company that developed Cellulose Nanocrystals (CNC), and other eminent guests from the academia and industry.

In October 2012, the National Health Surveillance Agency (Anvisa) of Brazil conducted a meeting to address the potential influence of nanotechnology in different fields and how the technology could be put to use to benefit the nation’s priorities of industrial development and public health. Anvisa is happy to take on the role of facilitator of the technology, and guardian of public health. Representatives from the government agencies and the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation attended the meeting.

In August 2011, experts from the Brazilian Competitiveness Forum on Nanotechnology came together in São Paulo for a debate over the effective regulation of nanotechnology for the industrial sector, as well as to create possible laws, standards, and guidelines for nanotechnology regulation in Brazil.

According to a new report from RNCOS, Brazil, in collaboration with other developing countries such as Korea, China, and India, has been investing a lot of money into nanotechnology R&D. This has resulted in a high volume of nanotechnology publications and patents, spearheading the way in the Latin-American region, with Mexico a distant second.

The lack of a good legal and regulatory framework means that long-term economic development is questionable. Corruption is a big problem and growth in the private sector has been stalled by an onerous regulatory environment. This has also led to a decline in foreign investment and business confidence.

The Brazilian economy has survived the GFC well and continued to progress. This progress has not translated to the science and technology sector with SMEs exhibiting little tendency to innovate. This could be attributed to a challenging framework and social challenges such as low levels of education and poverty.

Brazil’s 2008 GERD was 1.08% of GDP, which is below the OECD median. They have recognized innovation as a national deficit and it is a core issue for “The Greater Brazil Plan 2011-14.” This involves altering the legal framework. They have also formulated the National Strategy in Science, Technology, and Innovation (ENCTI) to try and close the technology gap with other developed nations.

A number of initiatives in Brazil, such as Programa Primeira Empresa Inovadora, and PRIME, promote entrepreneurialism and urge others to help nurture modern companies that may be interested in nanotechnology. However, the development of green technology is a huge area of focus of Brazil’s STI approach that may distract attention away from nanotechnology, unless it involves nanotechnology.

Brazil has expressed some dedication to increasing funding levels for R&D and has been doing its best to become a challenging competitor. This is proved by their high levels of research publications; however, the fact that their publications are not in any top-level journals reveals they still have some way to go. Moreover, there seems to be a thrust for the development of green technologies, which could be detrimental to the progress of nanotechnology.

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