Accelerating Innovation in Brazil


After several years of focusing on monetary and fiscal policy at the macro-level, and creating a more stable and predictable economic environment for industry, Brazil embarked over the last several years on a large-scale effort to address structural issues around building innovation capabilities with the country. In the face of increased global competition, particularly from Asia, many Brazilian workers and industries are at a competitive disadvantage when it comes to capturing higher skilled and value-added work that can translate into higher productivity and a higher standard of living.  This competitive disadvantage has been exacerbated by the country’s current economic and political crisis. Given recent headwinds, the innovation agenda is more important than ever to Brazil and to the Brazilian government’s effort to support and drive economic growth.

SENAI, Brazil’s National Service for Industrial Training, is also turning its attention and resources to the issue of innovation in Brazil. Because of SENAI’s vast network of workforce training institutes across the country and its long history of working collaboratively with industry, it has been charged with the creation of 25 SENAI Innovation Institutes (ISIs), each of which will focus on a particular technology or group of technologies associated with one or several industries in which Brazil has existing capabilities. Over half of the Institutes are operational as of 2016 and the rest will be launched in the next two years. SENAI’s goal is to create a network of institutes that will work with industry on applied research, and also act as catalysts within the national and regional innovation “ecosystems” to spur greater innovation, more open collaboration across institutions, and the development of the next generation of globally competitive Brazilian firms, both established and emerging.

Collaboration with MIT and the Industrial Performance Center

In its collaboration with SENAI, MIT’s IPC builds on two decades of research on national and regional systems of innovation around the world. In this program of research we have collaborated with governments and private organizations responsible for promoting innovation in a wide range of countries, including Taiwan, China, Finland, the United Kingdom, Norway and Japan.  An important goal of this work has been to understand the sources of variation in national and local systems of innovation, and in particular, to seek practical insights into how the role of research and educational institutions can be enhanced in these different contexts.

The IPC’s research agenda with SENAI on Brazil’s innovation ecosystem focuses on three primary areas of research: 1) national and regional institutional context for innovation, 2) industrial organization and structure, including global value chains with an initial focus on three industries:  biopharma, information and communication technology (ICT) and oil and gas and 3) the ISIs individually and collectively as part of the network of innovation institutes across the country.

The IPC holds a spring and fall seminar series on the topic of innovation (one semester focused on Brazil). For more information about the seminar series or the project in general, please contact

Advisory Board

 Glauco Arbix, Professor of Sociology, USP, Former President, FINEP
 Rafael Bottos, CEO, Welle Laser
 Carlos Henrique de Brito Cruz, Scientific Director, FAPESP
 Ricardo Felizzola CEO HT Micron; MEI Representative
 João Fernando Gomes de Oliveira, Professor USP; Former President, Embrapii
 José Eduardo Fiates, CEO, CV Ventures
 Bernardo Gradin, CEO, GranBio, MEI member
 Fernanda de Negri, Director of Studies and Industry Innovation Policies, Regulation and Infrastructure, IPEA 
 Carlos Pacheco, Director, FAPESP
 Fernando Reinach, Principal, Pitanga Fund

Accelerating Innovation in Brazil Working Paper Series


2017 Working Papers

Guerra, Susana Cordeiro
Finding the Fringes of Formality: Organizational Capability in Street-Level Bureaucracies in Brazil
MIT-IPC Working Paper 17-008

Nascimento, Andre Acetose
The SENAI SESI Call for Innovative Projects: 2015 - startups' perspective
MIT-IPC Working Paper 17-007
Download (PDF)

Reynolds, Elisabeth B. and Fernanda de Negri
The University as an Engine of Innovation: Critical Case Studies from Brazil and the U.S.
MIT-IPC Working Paper 17-006

Piore, Michael and Cauam Ferreira Cardoso
SENAI + ISIs: The Silicon Valley Consensus Meets Organizational Challenges in Brazil
MIT-IPC Working Paper 17-005
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Limoeiro, Danilo and Ben Ross Schneider
State-led Innovation: SOEs, Institutional Fragmentation, and Policy Making in Brazil
MIT-IPC Working Paper 17-004
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Lima-de-Oliveira, Renato and Timothy Sturgeon
From Resource Extraction to Knowledge Creation: Oil-Rich States, Oil Companies and the Promotion of Local R&D
MIT-IPC Working Paper 17-003
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Zylberberg, Ezequiel
Beyond RTO Benchmarking: Towards a Typology of Innovation Intermediaries
MIT-IPC Working Paper 17-002
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2016 Working Papers

Martínez-Vela, Carlos
Benchmarking Research and Technology Organizations (RTOs): A Comparative Analysis
MIT-IPC Working Paper 16-005
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Reynolds, Elisabeth B., Ezequiel Zylberberg, Victoria Del Campo
Brazil's Role in the Biopharmaceutical Global Value Chain
MIT-IPC Working Paper 16-004
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Zylberberg, Ezequiel
Redefining Brazil's Role in Information and Communication Technology Global Value Chains
MIT-IPC Working Paper 16-003
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Lima de Oliveira, Renato
Resource-Led Industrial Development in the Oil & Gas Supply Chain: The Case of Brazil
MIT-IPC Working Paper 16-002
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Sturgeon, Timothy J.
Brazil in Global Value Chains
MIT-IPC Working Paper 16-001
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A new study by IPC Senior Researcher Timothy Sturgeon and co-authors assesses the Brazilian automotive sector’s position and recent performance in the context of the automotive Global Value Chain (GVC) and the ‘New’ Digital Economy. The purpose is to provide insight and analysis to support the development of Brazil’s new automotive industrial policy: Rota 2030. Download the study here.

IPC Industry Roundtables, Spring 2016